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Schmidt Is Philips Sports Manager Of The Year For A Second Time

Schmidt Is Philips Sports Manager Of The Year For A Second Time

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has been announced as the Philips Sports Manager of the Year for 2018, receiving his award from Brendan Griffin, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, at a function in Ballsbridge this afternoon.

Joe Schmidt beat off very stiff competition from eleven other monthly award winners, including Leinster’s double-winning head coach Leo Cullen, Graham Shaw, who guided the Ireland Women’s hockey team to the World Cup final, Dublin Gaelic football manager Jim Gavin and Dundalk’s league and cup-winning boss Stephen Kenny.

2018 was a year to remember for Irish Rugby with Schmidt steering Ireland to their third ever Grand Slam, a first series win in Australia since 1979 and another clean sweep of November Test victories, including that long-awaited maiden defeat of New Zealand on home soil.

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The New Zealander is only the fourth coach or manager to win the prestigious Philips Sports Manager of the Year award more than once. He was the winner in 2014 following his first Six Nations title in charge of Ireland. Brian Kerr (twice), Declan Kidney (three) and Jack Charlton (four) have also won the award multiple times.

Speaking to MC Des Cahill about his 2018 campaign with Ireland, Schmidt said: “We just didn’t want it to end. It was pretty special. It meant a lot to us and you saw what it meant to the people in the stadium (when we beat New Zealand). It’s not often you get those rewards in sport. You roll your sleeves up and look to get those rewards, but it’s great to get them when they do arrive.”

2019 brings a Six Nations title defence and the much-anticipated Rugby World Cup in Japan, with the Ireland boss highlighting the huge level of competition for places provided by some of the young uncapped players around the provinces.

“There’s a few (young players) that probably haven’t been on the stage yet that are starting to push up through. Young guys like Eric O’Sullivan, who played very well for Ulster last weekend, and Connacht’s Tom Farrell joined us at training. Those sorts of guys are starting to push through as well.

“We had a big group of 43 at training and I think 41 of them played during the autumn internationals, so it’s great to have those numbers and that competition within the squad, and then try to be as competitive outside of the squad.

“Whatever we do try to achieve (in 2019) it’s going to have to be with a little bit more than we did last year or the year before. You’ve got to keep building year on year. i’m sure England will come back in about eight weeks’ time looking to avenge what happened last time at the Aviva Stadium and in Twickenham.

“You don’t look too far ahead, but a lot of people are talking about some tournament at the end of the year,” he quipped. “That’s too scary for me to consider at this stage! I’ll just stay sorta short-term focused and have a look at that Six Nations and try to negotiate our way through that.”

On his fellow nominees, Schmidt added: “I watch a bit of the league and cup in soccer and what Stephen (Kenny) has achieved with Dundalk is fantastic. I watch Joseph O’Brien, particularly when he’s training (our horse) Cosmic Horizon obviously! He’s done a super job.

Willie (Mullins) and Gordon (Elliott) with the National Hunt, the way that they’ve dominated that. And what the hockey girls did, Graham (Shaw) with the hockey girls, that was super. I think our girls have come through in the boxing ranks really strongly in recent years.

“I’m a sports fan, I love watching it. I caught up with John Kiely a couple of days ago, and what Limerick did after a number of years of getting close was fantastic for them, and at the same time it’s so competitive in that hurling environment.

“I see what Jim (Gavin) has achieved with the Dublin footballers, four times. Some people are saying it’s boring and I haven’t seen Jim bored! Jim’s fairly excited about next year and I think that’s the way all of us are. We’re all kinda forward thinking and we don’t actually get a chance to reflect too often.

“It’s nice to get those opportunities, it’s nice to catch up with people that we see twice a year at these sort of functions and catch up with how everyone’s been going on the pitch and off the pitch.”