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Ulster Awards Double For McCann, While Hogan And Barrett Win Women’s Honours

Ulster Awards Double For McCann, While Hogan And Barrett Win Women’s Honours

David McCann, the Ulster Rugby Writers' Player of the Year and Bank of Ireland Men's Player of the Year, is pictured with Ethan McIlroy, Stewart Moore, and Jude Postlethwaite ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Ulster Rugby have revealed the winners of the 2023/24 Heineken Ulster Rugby Awards, including this season’s Women’s Player of the Year and Bank of Ireland Men’s Player of the Year, as voted by supporters last week. Click here for the shortlist of nominees.

The province would like to congratulate all of the 2023/24 Heineken Ulster Rugby Award winners, and to thank the individuals and clubs for the hard work and dedication they have invested into rugby in Ulster over the past season.

Winners will be invited to attend a special event at the Ulster Men’s home pre-season match against Benetton at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday, September 7, at which they will be presented with their trophies.



Danske Bank Boys Schools Player of the Year – Conor Magee (Banbridge Academy)

Conor Magee was part of the Banbridge Academy team that reached the quarter-final stage of the Danske Bank Ulster Schools Senior Cup. Prior to this, Conor was an integral part of the Ulster Under-18 Schools team that competed in the Interprovincial Championship last summer.

His performances throughout the season resulted in him being named in the Ireland Under-18 squad for the recent Under-18 Men’s Six Nations Festival in Parma – as one of three Ulster players included in the side that faced France, Italy, and Portugal.


Danske Bank Girls Schools Player of the Year – Niamh Fulton (Sullivan Upper School)

Niamh Fulton captained Sullivan Upper School in only their second year in the Under-18 Girls Schools competition. She led by example, playing some excellent rugby throughout the season, which led to her involvement in the extended Ulster U-18 squad in February, and the Ulster U-18 Sevens squad this May. Niamh has since joined Malone RFC, and continues to impress in both the Sevens and 15s format of the game.


Ulster Boys Youth Player of the Year – Dylan Fox (Malone RFC)

Dylan Fox has been a standout performer in the youth club game over the past number of seasons, and his performances with Malone RFC have seen him gain recognition with the Ulster U-18 Clubs side. Most recently Dylan was part of the squad that travelled to Limerick to play Munster U-18s Cluvs at Easter, and his consistent displays have been rewarded with inclusion in the Ulster U-18 summer training squad in preparation for the upcoming Interprovincial games.


Ulster Girls Youth Player of the Year – Erin McConalogue (Inishowen RFC)

Erin McConalogue has continued to raise the bar this season. She was one of the first Women’s National Talent Squad players this year – an IRFU programme running across the four provinces. Erin featured in both Interprovincial Championships for the Ulster U-18s and, after excellent performances, she was called into the Ireland Under-18 Women’s squad. This earned her a place in the squad that travelled to Wales for this season’s U-18 Six Nations festival.

Erin also put in a brilliant display of rugby in the recent Under-18 Sevens Interprovincial Series. The young player has been able to achieve all this alongside sitting her Leaving Certificate in school, and playing club rugby at Inishowen RFC.


Referee of the Year – Keane Davison (Omagh RFC)

Keane Davison has firmly established himself as a Level 1 Referee within the IRFU National Panel. He regularly referees in Men’s Division 1A of the Energia All-Ireland League, and is often an assistant referee in European Professional Cup Rugby (EPCR) and United Rugby Championship (URC) games.

This year, for the first time, Keane was in charge of a Rugby Europe tier 2 international fixture when Poland took on Romania. He has also served as Ulster Society of Rugby Football Referees (USRFR) Chairman of Activities for the past number of years. He has a very bright future ahead of him as an active referee.


Dorrington B Faulkner (Services to Rugby) – John Carleton (Grosvenor RFC)

John Carleton attended Grosvenor Grammar School where he was a talented all-round sportsman. He decided to restart his rugby career in the mid-1970s, beginning an involvement in club rugby that has spanned over 40 years. He mostly played 2nd and 3rd XV rugby, and was captain of a highly-successful 3rd XV in the 1982/83 season.

Under John’s captaincy they achieved a league and McCambley Cup double, and were Ravenhill Cup finalists. After his playing career, he became an active Grosvenor Management Committee member, and was elected President of the club in 1985. His energy and enthusiasm helped transform the club into one of the top junior sides in Ulster.

John was a founding member, club captain and past president of Perennials RFC, who have raised over £500k for various charities since their formation in 1989. A willing volunteer for Ulster Rugby, he has served on the Competitions Management Committee for over 20 years, mostly as chair.

Over the past number of decades, he has established himself as a popular, hard-working, highly-respected and dedicated servant of Grosvenor RFC, Perennials RFC and Ulster Rugby. Perennials RFC will be responsible for presenting this year’s Dorrington B Faulkner award to John.


Ken Goodall Club Player of the Year – Bradley McNamara (Instonians RFC)

Bradley McNamara has been part of the successful Instonians squad that have charged-up through the ranks – with their most recent promotion securing Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 2A status for next season. He has been ever-present in the full-back role, and his elusive running and fine finishing has caught the eye of many spectators over the past couple of seasons.

Most recently, Bradley was involved in the Instonians side that lifted this season’s Bank of Ireland Ulster Senior Cup after a dramatic final against Queen’s University. He scored a try in a thrilling game that went into extra-time with Inst emerging as 36-26 winners.


Kukri Club of the Year – Ballyclare RFC

The 2023/24 season saw unparalleled success on the pitch for Ballyclare RFC in the 75th year of the club. The 1st XV were crowned winners of the Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup, Ulster Rugby Championship Division 1, and the All-Ireland League Provincial Championship. Meanwhile, the 2nd XV claimed the Provincial Premier League 1 title and Crawford Cup. The 3rd XV were Provincial East 1 Phase 2 runners-up and Forster Plate finalists. For the 4th XV, they claimed third place in the Regional East 1 Phase 2, and were Butler Shield finalists. The club’s 5th XV were Regional Midweek League runners-up, and the Under-18s were the Provincial Plate winners.

Proudly fielding five adult playing squads, three youth squads, and a vibrant Mini section of over 170 players, the club also established the Clare Hares for players with a disability, and are actively participating in Ulster Rugby’s ‘Give It A Try’ programme to increase girls’ participation in rugby.

The club’s Committee has members ranging in age from early twenties to late seventies, and has embraced Ulster Rugby’s #respectURgame programme. With international referee Chris Busby affiliated to Ballyclare RFC, they were proud to see their club socks worn by Chris in this season’s URC Origin Round. Ballyclare RFC is a club open to all the community, and is a shining example of what can be achieved through the domestic game in Ulster.


Ulster Rugby Foundation Community Impact Award – Civil Service NI RFC

Following the launch of the Ulster Rugby Foundation last summer, with the aim of helping more people of all ages and abilities to get involved in the sport across the province, the inaugural winner of the Ulster Rugby Foundation Community Impact award is Civil Service NI RFC.

Chosen from three strong submissions, each representing a priority for the Foundation – Disability Rugby, Women’s and Girls Rugby, and Youth Rugby – Civil Service NI RFC were deemed the winners for their ongoing work within the Women’s and Girls game, and for their continued efforts to engage with their local community over the past season.

Having built-up their community outreach in the past while, Civil Service NI’s fundraising efforts for Breast Cancer Now also contributed to the club being crowned winners, as it reflects the Ulster Rugby Foundation’s founding principle that rugby has the power to have a lasting and positive impact on participants and our local community.


Young Women’s Player of the Year – Sophie Barrett (Enniskillen RFC/Railway Union RFC)

Sophie Barrett had an excellent Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship campaign this year with Ulster, leading to her involvement with the Wolfhounds team that won the Celtic Challenge competition for the first time. She went on to win this season’s Ulster Junior Cup with Enniskillen RFC, where she has played a major role in the success of the senior team, and was a runner-up in the Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division with her dual status club, Railway Union RFC.

Sophie was also selected in last year’s Ireland Under-20 Women’s squad. She continues to work hard, and is a young player who is growing in stature as demonstrated in her performances at club, provincial, and international level.


Young Men’s Player of the Year – Harry Sheridan (Civil Service NI RFC)

After making his debut for the Ulster Men’s team against La Rochelle last season, Harry Sheridan has gone from strength to strength, becoming a mainstay in the squad in the 2023/24 campaign. An aggressive, hard-working and vocal player, the 22-year-old forward has seen the majority of his game-time in the second row but can also play in the back row, showing his versatility.

Harry has seen a significant amount of minutes since new head coach Richie Murphy came to the province, starting seven matches since the Wicklow man’s arrival and being trusted to play a key part in some vital matches. His performances bode very well for the future, with stand-out displays against the Hollywoodbets Sharks and DHL Stormers, in South Africa, showing how far the youngster has come this season.


Rugby Writers’ Player of the Year – David McCann (Cooke RFC)

Back rower David McCann has built on the foundations he set in the closing period of the 2022/23 season, and has raised his game to the next level. The former RBAI talent has worked hard on the elements of his game and went into the season with more physicality and nous at the breakdown. His excellent decision-making through the campaign has seen the media who regularly cover Ulster vote him as their Player of the Year.


Ulster Rugby Supporters’ Club Player of the Year – John Cooney (Gonzaga College)

In a rollercoaster season for the province, John Cooney also experienced his own ups and downs. The fan favourite admitted to the press that he had not been enjoying his rugby and began to doubt himself, however a chat with new head coach Murphy rejuvenated the scrum half.

John made huge contributions towards the province’s push for the BKT United Rugby Championship play-offs and securing Champions Cup rugby for next season. His goal-kicking was excellent, with match-winning contributions against Cardiff, Benetton, and Leinster. His late match-winning kick against Leinster at a packed Kingspan Stadium will live long in supporters’ memories.


Women’s Player of the Year – Brittany Hogan (Ballynahinch RFC/Old Belvedere RFC)

A key member of the Ulster and Ireland Women’s teams, Brittany continues to shine for both province and country. The back rower has nailed down the number 8 jersey this season and has put in impressive performances in the Guinness Women’s Six Nations. Brittany was the player-of-the-match in Ireland’s 15-12 victory over Scotland at Kingspan Stadium, a victory that sealed third place in the table and qualification for next year’s Rugby World Cup.


Bank of Ireland Men’s Player of the Year – David McCann (Cooke RFC)

Recognised by supporters as the Bank of Ireland Men’s Player of the Year, McCann has excelled this season, becoming an ever-present figure in the back row. Many watching on have been impressed with his work-rate, ball-carrying and improvement in defence, with 13 turnovers and 158 tackles made in the BKT URC this season.

McCann (23) has become one of the most exciting back row players in Ireland, and will be certainly in the conversations for future international recognition with the rich vein of form he has showed throughout the current campaign.


Heineken Ulster Rugby Personality of the Year – Luke Marshall (Ballymena RFC)

Described by many of his team-mates and peers as a person who epitomises what it means to be an Ulster player, Luke Marshall is this season’s Heineken Ulster Rugby Personality of the Year. He has served his home province with distinction across the past fifteen years, from starting out in the Academy to becoming a key player in the senior Men’s team, and earning Ireland international caps.

Luke has shown great resilience during his career with some testing times due to injuries. On each occasion, he has gone through the gruelling rehab and got back into the starting XV. An experienced voice in the dressing room, Luke will be missed by all at the province and will forever be remembered as an Ulster Rugby legend.