The annual Munster Rugby Awards, in association with the Irish Examiner, took place at Thomond Park on Friday night with eleven awards presented to worthy recipients involved in domestic and professional rugby across the province.
While the Munster team played out a 22-6 Magners League victory against Connacht, squad players not involved such as Keith Earls, Donncha O’Callaghan and David Wallace joined domestic game volunteers in recognising and honouring rugby achievements in Munster.
James Coughlan was named Munster Player of the Year, fighting off competition from fellow nominees Earls, Doug Howlett and Ronan O’Gara.
Coughlan has made 23 appearances for Munster this season, scoring four tries and playing right across the back row.
The Corkman featured in all of Munster’s Heineken Cup pool games, Amlin Challenge Cup games, 14 Magners League ties and famously captained Munster in their 15-6 win over Australia in November.
He now joins previous winners Mick O’Driscoll, Wallace, O’Gara and John Hayes in receiving the individual accolade.
The Young Player of the Year was awarded to Buttevant’s Ian Nagle. The 22-year-old second row has enjoyed a very successful season in his first year on the senior panel.
He has made a total of 10 appearances in the Magners League and put in a man-of-the-match performance against Australia in November.
Academy scrum half Conor Murray was the worthy recipient of the John McCarthy award for Academy Player of the Year.
Making his European debut against Brive in the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final, Murray’s season started when he came on as a replacement against Australia and he went on to play on seven occasions in the Magners League. The 22-year-old Limerick native advances to the senior ranks next season.
The other award winners on the night included:
Senior Club of the Year – Bruff RFC. The Limerick club enjoyed All-Ireland and provincial success this season, winning the Bateman All-Ireland Cup and the ODM Financial Munster Senior Cup.
Hall of Fame Award – Tom Nesdale. Captaining Pres to win the Schools Senior Cup in 1952, the second row went on to play his club rugby with Garryowen.
Tom represented Munster over a period of ten years and was a member of the squad that drew with Australia in 1958 and lost narrowly to South Africa in 1960.
Women’s Player of the Year – Siobhan Fleming. After taking up rugby in 2007, the Tralee flanker made her provincial debut in August 2010 and featured throughout Munster’s successful interprovincial campaign.
Her rise in rugby continued when she was chosen in this year’s final Ireland squad for the Women’s Six Nations Championship.
Referee of the Year – George Clancy. This is the second year Clancy has been awarded the honour of Referee of the Year, having first won it in 2007. The Bruff man has been selected to officiate at the 2011 Rugby World Cup and will take charge of the opening game between New Zealand and Tonga.
This year he refereed his first Tri Nations game as well as two games in the RBS 6 Nations Championship.
Junior Club of the Year – Cashel RFC. After gaining promotion to the senior ranks for next season, the Tipperary side has enjoyed a wealth of success this year winning such titles as the Munster Junior Challenge Cup, the Gleeson League, the Webb Cup and the Munster Junior Cup.
Club Youth Section of the Year – Waterpark RFC. For the second year in-a-row Waterpark RFC have won this award, as their youth squads once again had a successful season with the Under-17s and Under-19s both winning their respective Avonmore Milk Munster Youths Cups.
Club Mini Section of the Year – Ennis RFC. The Clare club prove worthy winners with over 190 registered players at mini level and 18 qualified mini coaches, and all are fully compliant with player registration.
They took part in a number of mini rugby blitzes including a national Under-12 blitz and also participated in a blitz in Frankfurt, Germany.
School of the Year – Rockwell College. The Tipperary school has had a very successful season, winning the coveted Avonmore Milk Schools Senior Cup, clinching their 24th title, and winning the Meteor Munster Schools 10-a-side tournament. They were also beaten finalists in the Under-15 A & B Munster Schools League.