Béibhinn Parsons' breakthrough season recognised with Women’s Player of The Year award

The late Garrett Fitzgerald with the Tom Rooney Award
Béibhinn Parsons' breakthrough season recognised with Women’s Player of The Year award

Beibhinn Parsons was named Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Women’s Player of the Year. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Béibhinn Parsons’ brilliant breakthrough season in 2019-20 was recognised when she picked up the coveted Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Women’s Player of The Year award.

Other recipients of the prestigious annual awards voted for by members of the Irish rugby media included Guinness PRO14 champions Leinster, Ireland Sevens stars Louise Galvin and Jordan Conroy and Ballynahinch RFC, while a career of service to Munster Rugby was recognised by honouring the late Garrett Fitzgerald with the Tom Rooney Award.

Parsons was a delighted recipient of her award, recognising the Ballinasloe winger’s emergence in Test rugby during 2019-20, capped by three tries in the 2020 Women’s Six Nations.

“Winning the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year award is a real ‘pinch me’ moment,” she said. “To follow in the footsteps of incredible players like Ciara Griffin, Claire Molloy and Sene Naoupu is just incredible.

“To even be nominated for an award of this calibre has exceeded all my expectations. I would have never considered myself to be in the same bracket of players with those women.” 

Former Munster Rugby chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald, who passed away last February, posthumously received the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Tom Rooney Award and was honoured as “a fantastic ambassador for rugby in Ireland” who first oversaw Munster’s transition into the professional game and then European Cup successes in 2006 and 2008, three Celtic Leagues titles and a Celtic Cup in 2005.

Leinster Rugby was named the Dave Guiney Team of the Year having retained their PRO14 title for third season in succession by going undefeated with 17 wins from 17 matches.

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen accepted the award on behalf of the team and wider organisation and said: “As I look back on the last year my overriding feeling is one of gratitude that we were able to get out there and train and play and we as a club and as a sport are extremely appreciative of all those that have made that possible. In particular to those on the frontline working to keep us all safe.

“It has been a challenging year for everyone and we feel very fortunate to be able to do what we do when we know so many others in our society have not been as lucky. We also feel fortunate we have been able to bring some enjoyment into the lives of supporters who have very much missed attending rugby games. The media play a key role in that too, promoting our games and our club and we very much thank the Rugby Writers’ of Ireland and Guinness for their continued support of the game of rugby in Ireland.” 

Conroy picked up the Men’s 7s Player of the year for the second year in a row having been crowned HSBC World Series Top Try Scorer and named in the World Series Dream Team as Ireland competed on the elite circuit for the first time.

Galvin’s recognition as Women’s 7s Player of the Year came after the Kerry native retired from the code last October having 96 World Series games for Ireland, scoring 22 tries.

Ballynahinch RFC’s award as Club of the Year came in recognition of the 2019 AIL champions’ outstanding community outreach work during the first Covid-19 lockdown while there were also two more inductees to the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Hall of Fame, Trevor Ringland and Fiona Coghlan.

Ringland represented Ballymena, Ulster, Ireland and the British & Irish Lions, playing 35 Tests between 1981 and 1988, one of them as a Lions against the All Blacks in 1983.

Coghlan played for UL Bohemians, Leinster and earned 85 Ireland caps (2003-14), captaining the 2013 Grand Slam-winning team in 2013 and leading them to the 2014 World Cup semi-finals.

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