Some of Ireland’s most talented club rugby players gathered in Dublin tonight for the second annual Ulster Bank League Awards where Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt handed out nine awards to representatives from Divisions 1A, 1B, 2A and 2B.
Fresh from their nail-biting Ulster Bank League title success last weekend, Clontarf – and Division 1A runners-up Old Belvedere – dominated the awards, scooping four and two awards respectively.
Clontarf winger Michael McGrath took home the Top Try Scorer award, while his team-mate David Joyce bagged the Top Points Scorer and Rising Star of the Year gongs.
Old Belvedere full-back and captain Daniel Riordan was named as the Division 1A Player of the Year with ‘Belvo’s head coach Paul Cunningham taking home the Division 1A Coach of the Year accolade.
Fresh from helping Terenure College complete a clean sweep of 18 league victories, flanker Robert Duke received the Division 1B Player of the Year award.
Galwegians star Jerome Harimate will bring the Division 2A Player of the Year award home to Galway, while Derek Corcoran of Division 2B champions Nenagh Ormond was chosen as the Player of the Year in that division.
The Ulster Bank League award winners were selected from a shortlist compiled by a panel of judges, including Ulster Bank rugby ambassadors Alan Quinlan and Bryn Cunningham and club rugby journalists Adam Redmond, Kieran Rooney and Donn O’Sullivan.
Speaking at the Ulster Bank League Awards, Stephen Cruise from sponsors Ulster Bank said: “The Ulster Bank League Awards is such a fitting end to what has been an outstanding season of rugby.
“Division 1A came to a dramatic close last weekend which saw victory snatched from Old Belvedere by Clontarf in the dying minutes of both sides’ fixtures.
“That’s what makes club rugby brilliant. These awards bring a greater meaning to the club game, for those who play it. It’s only right that these players should be rewarded and celebrated for their dedication and passion.
“Without club rugby, Ireland would not be producing the kind of talent capable of winning the RBS 6 Nations. It is so important to nurture and support our club rugby players and that’s what the Ulster Bank League Awards are all about.”
Players from 13 Ulster Bank League clubs, across all four provinces, were nominated for the 2013/14 awards.
This year’s awards also saw the introduction of two new categories – the Ulster Bank Coach of the Year in Division 1A and the Ulster Bank PRO of the Year, which was introduced to commend the work done by club PROs to promote their club and club brand.
ULSTER BANK LEAGUE AWARDS – 2014 WINNERS:
Ulster Bank Player of the Year – Division 1A
Winner: Daniel Riordan (Old Belvedere); Nominated: David Joyce (Clontarf), Ian Hirst (Clontarf)
Ulster Bank Coach of the Year – Division 1A
Winner: Paul Cunningham (Old Belvedere); Nominated: Bobby Byrne (UCD), Andy Wood (Clontarf)
Ulster Bank Rising Star Award – Division 1A
Winner: David Joyce (Clontarf); Nominated: Jack Conan (Old Belvedere), Andrew Boyle (UCD), Dan Goggin (Young Munster)
Ulster Bank Top Points Scorer – Division 1A
Winner: David Joyce (Clontarf)
Ulster Bank Top Try Scorer – Division 1A
Winner: Michael McGrath (Clontarf)
Ulster Bank Player of the Year – Division 1B
Winner: Robert Duke (Terenure College); Nominated: Jack O’Donoghue (UL Bohemians), Finn Gormley (Corinthians)
Ulster Bank Player of the Year – Division 2A
Winner: Jerome Harimate (Galwegians); Nominated: Ian Porter (Banbridge), Peter McCabe (UCC)
Ulster Bank Player of the Year – Division 2B
Winner: Derek Corcoran (Nenagh Ormond); Nominated: Leonard Slattery (Thomond), Chris Keane (Skerries)
Ulster Bank PRO of the Year
Winner: Sam O’Byrne (Clontarf); Nominated: Sile Geraghty (Tullamore), Thomas O’Brien (Old Wesley)