The stars of the Ulster Bank League were honoured at the annual awards held in Aviva Stadium tonight. Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt presented the awards in 16 categories, including the all new #UBLTry of the Year.
Lansdowne topped off an amazing season, following their recent Division 1A and Bateman Cup final victories, by taking home four awards. Their hugely-influential head coach Mike Ruddock was crowned the Division 1A Coach of the Year having led his team to the title, winning 18 of 20 games.
Talismanic out-half Scott Deasy claimed the Top Points Scorer gong for his outstanding club record-breaking 219 points tally this season, while Lansdowne’s young centre Harry Brennan claimed the Leinster Player of the Year award.
Winger Daniel McEvoy, another of the headquarters club’s talented backs, also picked up the inaugural #UBLTry of the Year award – as decided by an online vote. He finished off a terrific team effort against Young Munster on the Aviva Stadium’s main pitch.
McEvoy beat off stiff competition from fellow Ulster Bank League Try of the Month winners – Ben Kilkenny (Young Munster), Jack Maybury (Old Wesley), Bain Champion (Seapoint), Dan Kerr (Malone), Paul Devitt (Skerries), Marcus McAllister (Malahide) and Falemaka El Vave (Queen’s University).
Neil Cronin, who earned himself a Munster contract ahead of next season on the back of his performances with Garryowen this season, capped off an incredible year when he received the Division 1A Player of the Year award.
The Garryowen scrum half and captain, who skippered the Ireland Club International team this year, was also named the Munster Player of the Year. His Light Blues team-mate, young winger Liam Coombes, ensured a very successful evening for the Limerick club as the Top Try Scorer in Division 1A with 11 tries.
Remaining in Munster, Ireland Sevens international Alex McHenry, who excelled in Cork Constitution’s run through to the recent league final, claimed the Division 1A Rising Star of the Year award. In an historic year for UCC, their captain Paul Kiernan was acknowledged as the Division 1B Player of the Year for his role in leading the Cork students to promotion to Division 1A for the first time.
In Ulster, Rory Campbell, who was instrumental for Malone in their Division 2A title-winning campaign, won the Division 2A Player of the Year, while another of the province’s free-scoring backs, Banbridge’s Andrew Morrison was singled out as the Ulster Player of the Year.
Sligo’s Shane Boyle was named the Division 2C Player of the Year, while Galwegians’ ever-influential centre Brian Murphy took top prize as the Connacht Player of the Year.
Old Crescent had a superb campaign as they lifted the Division 2B trophy as the league’s only unbeaten team. They were rewarded for their work both on and off the field with 17-try star winger Val McDermott announced as the Division 2B Player of the Year and Frank Larkin being named the Ulster Bank Club PRO of the Year.
The Club Volunteer of the Year was awarded to an incredibly worthy recipient, Michael Silke from Buccaneers. He was singled out for his tireless work, dedication and commitment off the field and his willingness to help with any task for the Athlone club on training nights and his social committee work.
Speaking at the Ulster Bank League Awards, Carol McMahon, Head of Business Marketing & Sponsorship with Ulster Bank, said: “Ulster Bank is extremely proud to support grassroots rugby in Ireland. We understand the commitment and dedication that players, coaches and volunteers give to make their club the best it can be.
“All the nominees tonight are testament to the outstanding talent which has been displayed on countless occasions in clubs across the country throughout the season. On behalf of Ulster Bank, I would like to congratulate all the nominees, all the winners and the club members for a very successful season.”
IRFU President Philip Orr commented: “The Ulster Bank League allows clubs to showcase their talent, their communities and the values rugby represents. These awards are a welcome recognition of the dedication and commitment of not just the players but the volunteers in our clubs that represent the bedrock of our game.
“On behalf of the IRFU, I would like to congratulate the individual winners and their clubs and express our gratitude to Ulster Bank for their continuing support of our national club competition.”
2018 ULSTER BANK LEAGUE AWARDS – LIST OF WINNERS:
1. Ulster Bank Player of the Year – Division 1A: Neil Cronin (Garryowen)
2. Ulster Bank Top Try Scorer – Division 1A: Liam Coombes (Garryowen)
3. Ulster Bank Top Points Scorer – Division 1A: Scott Deasy (Lansdowne)
4. Ulster Bank Rising Star of the Year – Division 1A: Alex McHenry (Cork Constitution)
5. Ulster Bank Coach of the Year – Division 1A: Mike Ruddock (Lansdowne)
6. Ulster Bank Player of the Year – Division 1B: Paul Kiernan (UCC)
7. Ulster Bank Player of the Year – Division 2A: Rory Campbell (Malone)
8. Ulster Bank Player of the Year – Division 2B: Val McDermott (Old Crescent)
9. Ulster Bank Player of the Year – Division 2C: Shane Boyle (Sligo)
10. Ulster Bank Club Public Relations Officer) of the Year: Frank Larkin (Old Crescent)
11. Ulster Bank Club Volunteer of the Year: Michael Silke (Buccaneers)
12. Ulster Bank League Try of the Year: Daniel McEvoy (Lansdowne)
13. Ulster Bank Provincial Players of the Year – voted by the public through Ulster Bank Rugby social media:
– Connacht Player of the Year: Brian Murphy (Galwegians)
– Leinster Player of the Year: Harry Brennan (Lansdowne)
– Munster Player of the Year: Neil Cronin (Garryowen)
– Ulster Player of the Year: Andrew Morrison (Banbridge)
For more information on the Ulster Bank League Awards, go to www.facebook.com/ulsterbankrugby or find Ulster Bank Rugby on Twitter.