City of Derry duo Andrew Semple and David Houston are among five Ulster nominees for the 2016 Ulster Bank League Awards which will held be presented by Ireland coach, Joe Schmidt, in the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday.
Scrum half Semple is in the running for the AIL Division 2B Player of the Year after some sparkling displays for Terry McMaster’s team despite the heartbreak of missing out on the title and promotion on the last day of the league season. Semple, who has been one of the top No. 9s in Ulster for a number of seasons now, is up against Highfield out-half, Paddy O’Toole, and back row Cyprian Jouve from Sundays Well in what looks a tight category.
Second-row Houston is Derry’s ‘Mr Consistent’ bringing some crucial ball-carrying and line-out ability to Derry’s pack. However Houston faces some stiff competition in the Ulster Player of the year category which encompasses players across all AIL Divisions. This award is decided by a public vote and lining up against Ballymena’s David Whann, Callum Lecky of Belfast Harlequins and Aaron Cairns from Ballynahinch.
The awards, which first began in the 2012/2013 season, recognise and celebrate the dedication and commitment shown by players, coaches and teams across all Ulster Bank League Divisions. Ireland Head Coach, Schmidt, will be joined by former Ireland, Lions and Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris to make the presentations.
The return of the awards comes on the back of Ulster Bank’s announcement earlier this year that they will remain title sponsors of the All-Ireland League and Official Community Rugby Partner to the IRFU until 2018.
The Ulster Bank League Awards have become an established event in the rugby calendar with a number of winners and nominees from the past years making the transfer to professional rugby. These include Leinster Academy and Lansdowne player, Cian Kelleher, who has made six appearances for Leinster to date with a move to Connacht on the cards. Also former Ballynahinch player Ross Adair, a 2015 ‘Rising Star’ and ‘Ulster Player of the Year’ nominee who spent time with Ulster and has completed a first season with Jersey.
It’s fantastic to see players rewarded, across all divisions, for their ongoing commitment and dedication throughout the season. All those nominated should be very proud.Stephen Ferris
Other Ulster players featured on the shortlist are Ballymena’s Rodger McBurney, a finalist in the Division 1B Player of the Year and won the Ulster Rugby Awards, Club Player of the Year Trophy last Thursday while Banbridge PRO Robin McGloughlin is shortlisted in the Ulster Bank PRO of the Year category.
Speaking ahead of the Awards evening Ulster Bank rugby ambassador Stephen Ferris said:
“This is the first year I have been involved in the Ulster Bank League Awards and I’m really looking forward to them. The Division 1A final between Clontarf and Cork Con at The Aviva showcased some top level rugby, demonstrating the importance of club rugby for the development of the sport in Ireland.
“It is fantastic to see players rewarded, across all divisions, for their ongoing commitment and dedication throughout the season and all those who have been nominated should be very proud of themselves.”
The Ulster Bank League Awards take place on Wednesday, May 18th in the Aviva Stadium. For more information go to www.facebook.com/ulsterbankrugby.
Shortlist of Ulster Bank League Awards as follows:
Division 1A Player of the year
Nominees: Mick McGrath (Clontarf), Ger Slattery (Young Munster), Conor Kindregan (Cork Constitution)
Division 1A Young Player of the year
Nominees: Joey Carbery (Clontarf), Peader Timmins (UCD), Gearoid Lyons (Young Munster)
Division 1A Coach of the year
Nominees: Andy Wood (Clontarf), Bobby Byrne (UCD) , David Corkery (Young Munster)
Division 1B Player of the year
Nominees: Sean Kearns (St Mary’s), Angus Lloyd (Dublin Uni/Trinity), Rodger McBurney (Ballymena)
Division 2A Player of the year
Nominees: Charlie O’Regan (UCC), Paul Tolofua (Naas), Ross McAuley (Skerries)
Division 2B Player of the year
Nominees: Paddy O’Toole (Highfield), Cyprian Jouve (Sundays Well), Andrew Semple (Derry)
Division 2C Player of the Year
Nominees: Brendan Guilfoyle (Old Crescent), Tony Cahill (Bruff), Matt Cosgrave (Sligo)
Ulster Bank PRO of the Year
Nominees: Maurice Davin (St. Mary’s), Robin McGloughlin (Banbridge), Billy Browne (Old Wesley)
Ulster Bank Provincial Player of the Year – Across all UBL divisions (Public Vote)
Sean Duggan (Young Munster)
Ed Leamy (Cashel)
Ger Sweeney (Cork Con)
Dan McCabe (Kanturk)
Max McFarland (Dublin Uni/Trinity)
Brian McKeever (Navan)
Barry Daly (UCD)
Danny Riordan (Old Belvedere)
David Houston (City of Derry)
David Whann (Ballymena)
Callum Lecky (Belfast Harlequins)
Aaron Cairns (Ballynahinch)
Rory Moloney (Buccaneers)
David Panter (Corinthians)
John Cleary (Galwegians)
Stephen Kerins (Sligo)