Preston’s Sean Maguire — named League of Ireland Player of the Year for his huge contribution to Cork City’s title-winning season — was another winner unable to fly to Dublin from Manchester in time for the show, while Roy Keane and a number of other players were similarly grounded by the snow.
Others honoured on the night included Cyrus Christie (Young International Player), Harriet Scott (Senior International Women), Josh Cullen (U21), Sean McLoughlin (Colleges and Universities), and James McClean who bagged Goal of the Year for his winner against Wales in Cardiff.
Damien Duff was enrolled in the Hall of Fame while Marco Tardelli was named International Personality and the late Jimmy Magee was honoured with a Special Merit award.
Skipper Seamus Coleman, who makes his long-awaited return to the Irish squad for this week’s training camp and friendly in Turkey, said that his protracted absence from the international scene had been especially tough to take.
“I think that was probably the hardest part of the whole injury, missing the campaign with Ireland,” he said.
“I felt we got off to a great start and then not being fit to help the lads and not being out there with them during that Denmark game to help them, that was probably the hardest bit for me. But, starting with the Turkey game, we’ve got to look forward now to the next campaign and I fully believe that we’ll qualify.”
Cyrus Christie knows that the return of captain Coleman will have implications for him but the recent Fulham signing believes he can still stake a claim to a first-team place in the Irish side.
“Seamus is a fantastic player and a fantastic captain but I see no reason why we both can’t play,” he said. “He’s the first choice (at right back), everyone knows that but I can play on the wing, I can play left back. It’s up to the manager, it’s his decision. I want to train hard, keep getting better and show the manager what I’m capable of.”
Meanwhile, Martin O’Neill has finalised the squad who depart Dublin today for Turkey. Goalkeepers Rob Elliot (back) and Keiren Westwood (groin) miss out due to injury. Ross County ‘keeper Aaron McCarey has been called in and, with Darren Randolph already excused the trip, Colin Doyle and Kieran O’Hara complete the goalkeeping line-up.
John Egan, Greg Cunningham, Harry Arter, and Liam Kelly, who had all been named in the provisional squad, also miss out on the final 25-man panel which includes eight uncapped players: Aaron McCarey, Kieran O’Hara, Matt Doherty, Declan Rice, Darragh Lenihan, Derrick Williams, Enda Stevens and Scott Hogan.
Ireland play Turkey in Antalya on Friday, kick off 17.30 Irish time.
Colin Doyle (Bradford City), Kieran O’Hara (Manchester United), Aaron McCarey (Ross County)
Seamus Coleman (Everton), Cyrus Christie (Fulham), Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Declan Rice (West Ham United), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Kevin Long (Burnley), Alex Pearce (Derby County), Darragh Lenihan, Derrick Williams (Blackburn Rovers), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United).
Alan Judge (Brentford), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), David Meyler (Hull City), Eunan O’Kane (Leeds United), Alan Browne, Daryl Horgan (Preston North End), James McClean (West Bromwich Albion).
Shane Long (Southampton), Scott Hogan (Aston Villa), Sean Maguire (Preston North End)