Munster and Ireland legend Paul O’Connell was last night voted the 2015 Hibernia College IRUPA Players’ Player of the Year by his fellow players at the 13th annual IRUPA Awards ceremony.
Ireland captain Paul O’Connell has had an outstanding season, starting all of Ireland’s RBS 6 Nations games and earning his 100th cap for his country against Wales. This is the second time O’Connell has won the prestigious IRUPA award, taking the honour almost a decade ago in 2006.
He joins Gordon D’Arcy and Tommy Bowe as a two-time winner of the Players’ Player of the Year honour. Supporters echoed the views of the players with O’Connell also taking home the Newstalk Supporters’ Player of the Year for 2015.
Connacht and Ireland’s Robbie Henshaw has been named the Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year for an amazing third season in succession, making him the only winner to claim three awards in a row.
Nominated in three categories including the Players’ Player of the Year, the young centre added to his tally by winning the VW Try of the Year for his try against England at the Aviva Stadium.
O’Connell was delighted to receive the award, saying: “It is really great to win this award, it’s hard to believe it is nine years ago that I last won it! It’s been a fantastic season for Ireland and winning my 100th cap during the Six Nations was really special, so this tops it off nicely.”
As well as the honour of being Player of the Year, the Limerick man and all the winners received a Seiko watch kindly provided by Seiko and Fields Jewellers.
Joining Ireland’s heroes in the BNY Mellon IRUPA Hall of Fame was Munster and Ireland flanker David Wallace. Leinster’s Darragh Fanning collected the 3 Unsung Hero award, voted for by the public on the 3 Mobile’s Twitter account.
Connacht stalwart Michael Swift was awarded the Hibernia College Medal for Excellence, which rewards on-field effort combined with off-field commitment to the game.
The Zurich Contribution to Irish Society award was presented to Alan Quinlan in recognition of the significant impact made to society through his work raising the profile of mental health and depression in Ireland.
The BNY Mellon Women’s Sevens Player of the Year for 2015, as voted for by members of the Ireland Women’s Sevens squad, was presented to Lucy Mulhall for her consistent performances.
In a season of standout performances and memories, members of the public voted Ireland’s RBS 6 Nations title win as the Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa as the Rugby Moment of the Year via Twitter. The award was collected by Sean O’Brien and Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt.
Omar Hassanein, CEO of IRUPA, commented: “I am really pleased for Paul, he has led the Irish team admirably from the front, and this award is a superb reflection of the fantastic season he has enjoyed.
“Winning an IRUPA award is the highest honour a player can receive in this country, Paul and all the winners and nominees should be congratulated for the high recognition they have received amongst their peers.”
Dr. Sean Rowland, President and founder of Hibernia College, added: “In what has been another tremendous year for rugby in Ireland, Hibernia College is proud of our association with the Awards and our strong relationship with IRUPA. I would like to congratulate Paul and all the winners on their success and wish them the very best for the rest of the season and the upcoming Rugby World Cup.”
2015 HIBERNIA COLLEGE IRUPA PLAYERS’ AWARDS:
HIBERNIA COLLEGE IRUPA PLAYERS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR –
Winner: Paul O’Connell (Munster)
Nominations: Robbie Henshaw, Conor Murray, Paul O’Connell and Jonathan Sexton
NEVIN SPENCE YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR –
Winner: Robbie Henshaw (Connacht)
Nominations: Jack Conan, Robbie Henshaw and Jack McGrath
VOLKSWAGEN TRY OF YEAR –
Winner: Robbie Henshaw (Ireland v England, RBS 6 Nations)
Nominations: Craig Gilroy (Ulster v Scarlets, GUINNESS PRO12), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland v England, RBS 6 Nations) and Kieran Marmion (Connacht v Leinster, GUINNESS PRO12)
HIBERNIA COLLEGE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE –
Winner: Michael Swift (Connacht)
Nominations: Chris Henry, Felix Jones and Michael Swift
BNY MELLON IRUPA HALL OF FAME –
Inducted: David Wallace (Munster)
3 UNSUNG HERO –
Winner: Darragh Fanning (Leinster)
Nominations: Callum Black, Darragh Fanning and Denis Hurley
NEWSTALK106-108FM SUPPORTERS’ PLAYER OF THE YEAR –
Winner: Paul O’Connell (Munster)
POWERSCOURT HOTEL RESORT & SPA MOMENT OF THE YEAR –
Ireland winning the RBS 6 Nations title – voted by the public on Twitter @PowerscourtHtl – #PHMoment15
BNY MELLON WOMEN’S SEVENS PLAYER OF THE YEAR –
Winner: Lucy Mulhall
ZURICH CONTRIBUTION TO IRISH SOCIETY –
Winner: Alan Quinlan