Andrew Trimble’s Six Nations-winning campaign with Ireland gained further acclaim last night when he was named Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year 2014.
The Ulster wing, currently on the sidelines after suffering a toe injury last month, becomes the first serving Ulster player since David Humphreys in 1999 to win the coveted award.
The 30-year-old said: “It’s a huge honour for me to receive the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year Award. It’s always nice picking up an individual award like this, but I have to put it down to being part of such a successful Ireland team last season.
“It’s unfortunate to be injured at the moment, but watching the team play as well as they did against South Africa at the weekend makes me even more determined to get back on the pitch as soon as I can.”
Trimble and his Ireland colleagues were also recognised at the ceremony held in Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse as Joe Schmidt’s players were named the Dave Guiney Team of the Year after landing the RBS 6 Nations trophy in Paris last March.
Niamh Briggs picked up the Women’s Player of the Year award for the second season in a row. The Ireland full-back excelled during the Women’s Rugby World Cup victories over New Zealand, USA and Kazakhstan with performances that also earned her an IRB Player of the Year nomination.
Her former captain and coach of the side that got to the semi-finals for the first time in Paris in August were also among the prizes as Fiona Coghlan and Philip Doyle were joint recipients of the Tom Rooney Award for their services to rugby. Clontarf FC was voted Club of the Year after they secured their first AIL title, while former Ireland and British & Irish Lions player Hugo MacNeill was inducted into the Guinness Hall of Fame.
Having won 50 Test caps between 2005 and 2013, Trimble made the Ireland wing jersey his own last season. He scored tries against Scotland, Italy and the RBS 6 Nations title-clincher over France to earn the player of the championship award and was also recognised by his peers when named the IRUPA player of the season.
Trimble credited Joe Schmidt for turning his Test career around and giving him a run in the Ireland team during the Six Nations.
“Joe came in and obviously all the Leinster boys loved him and rightly so. The reputation he had with them was re-enforced with (the rest of) us and I just thought, ‘who knows what he’s going to be like?’ but at least it’s something new and things could only get better for me because I wasn’t really in the picture at that stage.
“I just put myself under pressure a lot and I’ve learned a lot from Joe and the environment he’s created which, as unpleasant an environment as it is at times, it’s the environment that gets the best out of me and I know I reacted well so I’m sure all the boys would say the same.”
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