Institute’s Upton rewarded for superb season

RÓISÍN UPTON’S whirlwind 12 months came to a fitting end at the Burlington Hotel on Saturday night, as she was named U18 Female Player of the Year at the sixth annual ESB Electric Ireland Irish Hockey Awards.

The Raheen girl was a key member of Catholic Institute’s double-winning team in Munster and provided the backbone of the Crescent Comprehensive side that retained their Munster title and won bronze at the Kate Russell All-Ireland.

Upton, the sole Munster winner on the night, captained Ireland at U16 level at the 2010 European Championships, and was vice-captain at the Youth Olympics in Singapore.

Lisnagarvey took home the main prize as they were named Club of the Year. The Lisburn clubs’ men’s seconds came home with the Junior Cup with the firsts runners-up in the Irish Hockey League while their women annexed the Irish Hockey Trophy and a final berth in the IJC.

Add in a first Ulster Premier League title in six years, promotion to the women’s top tier and a string of junior league titles, it was a massive year for them.

In the player’s awards, David Ames and Emma Smyth took home the Irish Players’ Player of the Year prizes, voted for by their fellow Ireland squad members.

‘Garvey eyes were smiling once again as Mark Raphael was honoured with the Men’s Senior Club Player of the Year title, taking the title ahead of Leinster’s Shane O’Donoghue — a senior Ireland debutant at just 18 who scored 34 goals in his first 27 games of the season.

O’Donoghue was also a runner-up in the U18 section, Irish Senior Cup final star Ian Sloan the recipient after a bumper year at club, interpro and school level.

This included captaining Ireland U18 Boys to the gold medal at the Home Nations in Cork in July 2010; Ulster U18 Boys to the silver medal in the UK Schools and his school team to victory in the McCullough and Burney Cups, scoring hat-tricks in both finals.

Gold in the U18 interpros also came in November, but the coup de grace, though, was his ISC final man of the match performance, scoring twice and creating two as Cookstown won the title for the first time since 1986.

Railway Union’s Kate Dillon took the women’s senior equivalent, capping a superb year in which she was a powerhouse in the indoor and outdoor game.

In the coaching honours, Michelle Rainey took the top honour for her double-winning exploits with Pegasus after seven successful years with Ulster and Ireland’s U16 setup.

Alison McNeill won the U18 honour, marshalling Ulster U18s incredible victory in the UK School Games where they got the better of England, Scotland and Wales’ national teams. The province also claimed their third successive interpro championship.

All Ireland Kate Russell winners Lurgan College were the inaugural School of the Year, while Helen Johnston was a popular winner of the Volunteer of the Year award. Newbridge were named Developing Club of the Year, and David Foster took the Umpire of the Year prize.

Four new inductees to the Hall of Fame were also named including Olympic gold medallist and current chief executive of the Olympic Council of Ireland, Stephen Martin.

Violet McBride, capped 38 times for Ireland and 64 times for Great Britain is another to enter the Hall. Former Irish internationals, Cookstown man Mark Burns and Hermes’ player Gwen Doherty were also among the latest additions to the prestigious group.

Irish international rugby player Tommy Bowe — brother of women’s international Hannah — and ex-Irish football manager Brian Kerr were among the guest speakers at the event, with Darragh Maloney returning as MC.


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