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Herald's a winner

HERALD writer Patrick Freyne has scooped the Critic of the Year accolade at the inaugural ceremony of the National Newspapers of Ireland Journalism (NNI) Awards.

Patrick was presented with the award at a gala lunch in the Four Seasons Hotel in Ballsbridge.

All Ireland's national and reigonal newspapers were represented at the event, the first of its kind, organised by the NNI.

Judges congratulated Mr Freyne on his television and radio columns for the Herald which "combine humour with insight, energy with intelligence and a sparkling style with substance".

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Freyne (36) thanked the Herald for letting him "continue to give out about Irish television and radio".

"It's my first award so I'm very excited," he said. "Some suggested that I could put [the trophy] on a shelf or use it as a shoe horn but I'll probably put it in a special place because it's the first time in my life I've ever won anything ... I think I came third in a sack race and that's about it."

Mr Freyne started working in journalism in his 20s but he pursued a career in music before returning six years ago to the media industry.

The judging panel had to sift through 546 separate entries across 13 categories to decide the winners.

Four other Herald writers were nominated for the prestigious awards.

David Diebold's careful style stood up in the Feature Writer of the Year category, while former Leinster and Ireland rugby player Neil Francis was Sports Journalist of the Year nominee.

Niall O'Connor (22), who covered the current presidential campaign, was in the ranking for Young Journalist of the Year prize and our wizard moneyman Dan White was Business and Economics Journalist of the Year shortlisted.