Munster and Ireland fly-half Ronan O'Gara picked up the 2004/05 award for Guinness/Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year at a banquet at the CityWest hotel on Tuesday night.
Other winners whose achievements were celebrated on the night were: Shannon RFC (Club of the Year), Fr. Michael Shiel (Tom Rooney Memorial Award for "an exceptional contribution to Irish rugby", and both Mike Gibson (NIFC, Ulster and Ireland) and Michael Carroll (Terenure College). were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Irish Independent rugby journalist Kieran Rooney, vice chairman of the Rugby Writers of Ireland, and Michael Whelan of sponsors Guinness presented the winners with their trophies.
The following are biographies on the award winners.
Educated at Presentation College, Cork, he represented Ireland at Under-21 level and having made his senior international debut against Scotland in 2000, he won his 52nd cap last season against Wales. He has scored 525 points for Ireland made up of seven tries, 97 penalty goals, nine dropped goals and 86 conversions. He also holds the individual scoring record by an Ireland player of 32 points in an international. Ronan is also the leading points scorer in the Heineken Cup.
He scored all 17 points when Ireland beat South Africa 17-12 on November 13, 2004, Ireland's first win over South Africa since 1965. He then scored all 21 points when Ireland beat Argentina a fortnight later. He was an ever present in the Six Nations series and scored 14 points in Ireland's 19-13 win over England.
He played a major part in helping Munster to win the Celtic Cup and in the summer was a member of the Lions squad in New Zealand, earning his first Test cap in the final Test. Ronan was named as Ireland's Sports Personality of 2004 by RTE and this is the second time he has won the Guinness/Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year Award - a feat achieved by only one other player previously.
Tom Rooney Memorial Award
Fr. Michael Shiel SJ
For his long standing contribution to the game in Ireland most particularly in the very important area of coaching, Fr Michael Shiel is a very worthy recipient of the Tom Rooney Memorial award.
This award is designed for people who have made and continue to contribute so much and he follows in a long and distinguished line of men who have been honoured with this award for their coaching prowess such as Eddie O'Sullivan, Brian O'Brien, Niall O'Donovan, Declan Kidney and Harry Williams.
Fr Michael has a long distinguished association with the game at schools level, Mungret, Gonzaga, Belvedere and in particular Clongowes Wood College. He coached Clongowes to success in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup in 1978 - the college's first win in the competition since 1926, his involvement is much more wide embracing than in the schools sphere.
He made a very significant contribution from the early days of organised coaching in this country since the time of the courses that used to be held in Mosney. He was involved with the coaching scene in Muster when he was based in Limerick and in Leinster and when the IRFU appointed a panel of Irish Staff coaches well over 30 years ago, Fr Shiel was one of those appointed. His contribution through the years has been immense.
Club of the Season
Yet again a season of remarkable achievement by the most successful club in the modern era, Shannon. The club retained The AIB All-Ireland League title and won it for a record seventh time.
Shannon also won the Munster Senior Cup for a record sixth consecutive season and retained The Munster Senior League and the Limerick Charity Cup.
It is a reflection on the strength in depth of the Shannon club that, in addition to their clean sweep at senior level, the club also won The Transfield Cup, The McInerney Cup, the North Munster Under-20 League and The North Munster Under-14 League.
Hall of Fame
Mick Carroll was educated at Terenure College and after playing for the college in the schools cups, he joined the Terenure College Club and gave outstanding service as a player to Terenure then a junior club. He won every honour open to him at junior level including interprovincial honours but resisted the many opportunities that came his way to move to a senior club.
His dedication and commitment to Terenure were rewarded when the club gained senior status and he played a leading role in helping to bring that about.
Having helped to fashion the Terenure tradition as a player, he enhanced his reputation and that of his club as an outstanding administrator, at both provincial and national levels. He was the first Terenure man to be elected as president of the Leinster Branch, an office he filled in 1973/74 and the first to become chairman on the Leinster and the Irish Selection Committees.
His ability as an administrator was recognised by the IRFU when just 25 years after his club had gained senior status, he was elected president of the IRFU in 1984/85, and occupied that office when Ireland famously won the Triple Crown and the Five Nations Championship that season.
Hall of Fame
Educated at Campbell College, Trinity College Dublin and Cambridge University, Mike Gibson won the first of the 69 international caps against England in Twickenham in 1964 just a few weeks after he had given an outstanding display for Cambridge University in the annual Varsity match.
From the outset of his representative career, it was evident that here was a very special talent. That was to asset itself in and against all the major rugby playing nations in the world in an international career that spanned 16 seasons, a remarkable tribute to his dedication, no less than his great skill.
His outstanding ability was reflected in the fact that he made no fewer than five lions tours, a record he shares with another Irishman Willie John McBride. He made 12 test appearances for the Lions. His performance during the 1971 Lions tour to New Zealand cemented by his reputation as the best midfield back in the game and he played a major role in the Lions winning the series.
After helping Ireland to win the role in the Five Nations Championship in 1974 he was a member of the Lions team that went unbeaten in South Africa in 1974. He was on the Ireland side that beat Australia in Sydney in 1967 and played in both tests when Ireland won the series 2-0 in Australia in 1979, and became the first European country to win a test series in the southern hemisphere. He retired after the tour with 69 caps a then World record and still a record for an Irish back. He scored 115 points for Ireland.
A former Ireland captain, he also captained Cambridge University. He played for Ireland in three different positions, fly-half, centre and on the wing. He also played for the Barbarians and played his club rugby for NIFC after leaving Cambridge University.