The 21-year-old Ferrybank man was receiving the prestigious award for a third time, having first been honoured as a 17-year-old. Making the presentation, Pierce Flynn said that in those intervening four years John O’Shea has all but taken the soccer scene both at home and in Britain by storm. “He is the Mr Versatility of Manchester United, starring in whatever role is handed to him by Sir Alex Ferguson, and now that he has broken into the Irish team, an equally long and successful international career lies ahead of him,’’ said Mr Flynn.
He said everyone in Waterford had followed John’s progress with a sense of immense pride, and given his youthfulness, he is poised to become another of the legends of Old Trafford. Fr Pat Moran OSA, chairman of the adjudicating committee, said that since the inception of the awards scheme there have been a total of 142 winners. “In John O’Shea,’’ he said, “we are honouring a rare talent in what has been a great sporting year for Waterford.’’ The award winner’s father, Jim O’Shea, said John’s breakthrough into the Manchester United team has been a source of great pride and joy for the entire family, and the winning of the Park Hotel monthly award is very special also for them.
Replying, John said he is both proud and honoured to receive the award, recognition of his achievements by his own people. “This is an award not given out lightly, and hopefully there will be many more to come as my career progresses,’’ he said. John expressed confidence that United can still win the league championship despite their shaky start “and all the more so given the expected return of captain Roy Keane in the very near future.”
He said that competition for a place in the team is now “fierce’’ at Old Trafford, but he is delighted to have established himself as firmly as he has at such an early age. “Hopefully, things will continue as they have done for me to date,” he added.
Also present were John’s parents Jim and Mary, his brother Alan, and members of the adjudicating panel.