There was a double celebration for Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year Conor Murray in Dublin last night, with Munster named Dave Guiney Team of the Year at the annual Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Awards.
At a gala evening at the Guinness Storehouse, Murray was honoured alongside his province, Women’s Player of the Year Claire Molloy, and Club of the Year Cork Constitution, while Michael Kearney picked up the Tom Rooney Award and Colin Patterson was inducted into the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Hall of Fame.
The Dave Guiney Team of the Year, like the other awards, voted for by the Irish rugby media, was recognition of Munster’s resilience and determination following the sudden death of head coach Anthony Foley, to reach a Champions Cup semi-final and a PRO12 final under leadership from Rassie Erasmus and his team.
“That’s great,” Murray said when told of the team award. “Actually, watching the Axel documentary recently kind of brought it all back about how big a year it actually was. I know we got to the Guinness PRO12 final and we lost to Saracens in the Champions Cup semi, but it was a good year. It’s not silverware but it’s definitely a big step in the right direction. Looking back, it was a tough year but I think we did really well and it’s another honour to get an award like that.”
Individually, Murray’s stellar year with Munster, Ireland, and the Lions saw the scrum-half become the only player in the northern hemisphere to have scored four Test tries against New Zealand.
“It’s an honour to win the award,” said Murray. “I got the Rugby Players Ireland Players’ Player of the Year in May, which was lovely as well. Every award is nice, it’s lovely, isn’t it? I can’t lie about it, it’s nice to get these things. You have to be realistic about it, you play in a good team and then you get credit, but it shows you that there are good squads to be involved in at the moment.”
Claire Molloy received the Women’s Player of the Year award, showing great leadership in captaining Ireland at the Women’s Rugby World Cup, her third time at the tournament. The former Galway minor footballer, an A&E doctor, plays flanker for Bristol.
“It’s a huge honour to receive the award and be recognised,” said Molloy. “It’s very humbling and it’s a product of the people I’ve been lucky enough to play with and to be coached by over the years, the experiences I’ve taken from them over the years.”
Cork Constitution were voted Club of the Year, marking an incredible, four-trophy season, winning their first Ulster Bank League Division 1A in seven seasons, a fifth successive Bateman Cup title, a fifth successive Munster Senior Cup, and the Cork Charity Cup.
The Tom Rooney Award is awarded to a person who has made a significant contribution to rugby in Ireland and was last night presented to former Ireland men’s team manager Michael Kearney.
Kearney worked alongside head coaches Declan Kidney and then Joe Schmidt and with them was credited with helping to create a team environment that has driven the on-field success.
He previously held similar roles with Leinster and the Ireland U20s and he is a past president of Landsdowne RFC.
Former Instonians, Ulster, Ireland, and Lions scrum-half Patterson was inducted into the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Hall of Fame. Patterson won the first of 11 Ireland caps in 1978 and played the first three Tests of the Lions series in South Africa two years later before a serious knee injury on tour ended his playing career.
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