City of Derry RFC player Joe Dunleavy was the fans choice as he was voted Ulster Bank Provincial Player of the Year for Ulster at this year’s Ulster Bank League Awards.
Now in their fifth year the awards celebrate the very best in Irish club rugby and guest of honour at the Aviva awards ceremony was Ireland head coach, Joe Schmidt.
Joe Dunleavy, who is from Letterkenny, couldn’t attend the awards at the Aviva in Dublin due to school commitments and is pictured receiving his award from Ulster Bank Waterside branch manager Mark Linton.
Other Ulster winners included Stephen Irvine from Banbridge RFC who won Ulster Bank Division 2A Player of the Year and City of Armagh RFC were awarded for their work off the field with Ken Redpath named Ulster Bank P.R.O. of the Year.
Other winners on the night included Cork Constitution who topped off an amazing season following their recent Division 1A and Bateman Cup final victories by taking home four awards with influential out half Tomás Quinlan being awarded the coveted Division 1A Rising Star of the Year award and Top Point Scorer for his outstanding 200 points tally this season.
The Temple Hill club were also celebrating Captain Niall Kenneally picking up the Division 1A Player of the Year and head coach Brian Hickey being named as Division 1A Coach of the Year. It was almost a clean slate for the Cork side however Young Munster’s Colm Skehan pipped the clubs three nominees to the Ulster Bank Provincial Player of the Year for Munster title.
In Leinster, Lansdowne’s Daniel McEvoy’s 11 try season saw him awarded Top Try Scorer in Division 1A while his club mate Eamonn Mills was voted Ulster Bank Provincial Player of the Year for Leinster. Jack Keating of Greystones RFC was named Division 2B Player of the Year
Sligo’s Kuba Wojtkowicz left the Aviva Stadium celebrating a double win as he picked up the Ulster Bank Provincial Player of the Year for Connacht title along with being named the Division 2C Player of the Year while Buccaneers Jordan Conroy took top prize as Division 1B Player of the Year.
Ireland and Ulster player Darren Cave was a special guest at the awards along with past star players Luke Fitzgerald and Alan Quinlan.
This year’s awards saw a new category introduced, as each club could nominate someone for Club Volunteer of the Year, an award which was presented to Mick Dempsey of Naas RFC for his tireless work off the field and willingness to help with any task from lining pitches and cleaning dressing rooms to cooking for the team on training nights and his social committee work. As a former club Director of Rugby, Mick oversaw player and coach development at Naas RFC with the club’s first XV rising to the Ulster Bank Division 1B under his tenure.
Speaking at the Ulster Bank League Awards, Maeve McMahon, Director of Customer Experience and Products`, 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.
Our partnership with the IRFU for the past seven years has been extremely successful and we look forward to continuing our work together into next season.”
IRFU President Stephen Hilditch 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.”
For more information on the Ulster Bank League Awards, go to www.facebook.com/ulsterbankrugby