Ballina RFC were named Connacht Club of the Year at the Connacht Rugby Awards Ball last Sunday night with players and volunteers across the Club & Community game also being recognised for their achievements.
CONNACHT U18 PLAYER OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Top Oil
From Brideswell in Athlone, Buccaneers lock Niall Murray has enjoyed an outstanding season. After starring for the Connacht U18s as they fell just short in the Interprovincial campaign, winning two from three, the second-row forward went on to represent the Ireland U18 Clubs team and the Ireland U18 Schools team.
CONNACHT U19 PLAYER OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Edward Holdings
It has been a vintage season for Sean Masterson as he has represented Ireland at U20 level – making his Six Nations debut against France – and captained the Ireland U19s. Back row forward Masterson has also captained the Connacht U19s in the Interprovincial Series along with playing for his club side Corinthians.
CONNACHT U18 GIRLS PLAYER OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Mongey Communications
Ballinasloe RFC’s Sarah Dent is one of the most talented young players emerging through the club’s burgeoning youth setup. Sarah represented Connacht in the U18 Interprovincial Series this season and has trained with the Ireland U18s and the Ireland Girls Sevens squad.
CONNACHT WOMEN’S CLUB PLAYER OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Eventus
Emma Clery, Galwegians RFC
Emma Clery of Galwegians RFC was the outstanding performer for the Galway club as they reached the semi-finals of the Women’s All Ireland League this season. Emma, who plays centre, has emerged as one of the province’s leading players and captained Connacht in this season’s Interprovincial campaign. She also received this award for her outstanding performances in 2015.
CONNACHT WOMEN’S PLAYER OF THE YEAR, sponsored by My Club Finances
Flanker Grainne Egan was Connacht’s outstanding performer in the Women’s Interprovincial campaign and has been involved in the Ireland setup since 2015. Playing her club rugby with St Mary’s in Dublin, this is the second time Grainne has received this award having also collected it in 2015.
CONNACHT COACH OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Deloitte
Brett Wilkinson, Buccaneers RFC
Brett Wilkinson led Buccaneers to an incredible treble of All Ireland League Division 1B, Connacht Senior Cup and Connacht Senior League titles in just his second year as Head Coach at the Athlone club. Buccs reached the play-offs in Wilkinson’s first year at the helm and will be playing in the top tier of Irish club rugby next season after a phenomenal campaign that saw them lose just twice in 18 league games.
CONNACHT CLUB OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Ulster Bank
Ballina RFC are the 2017 Connacht Rugby Club of the Year after a phenomenal season of success and development across every aspect of the club. From regenerating the facilities in Heffernan Park to a thriving schools programme to competitive youths – girls and boys – at every level. Their incredible success underpins their senior men’s team which, alongside winning the Cawley Cup, claimed a first Connacht Junior League title in 32 years.
CONNACHT REFEREE OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Golden Eye Security
Karol Collins has been the outstanding referee in Connacht this year and has officiated at a very high level at home and abroad. Karol took up refereeing in January 2009 and quickly established himself on the domestic scene, winning Connacht’s Referee of the Year in 2012. He has been an Assistant Referee in the European Challenge Cup and the European Nations Cup and also refereed this year’s Connacht Junior Cup final.
CONNACHT JUNIOR CLUB PLAYER OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Radisson Blu Hotel
John O’Brien, Connemara RFC
Full-back John O’Brien was an integral part of the Connemara RFC side that were pipped to the Connacht Junior League title by Ballina. Capped by Ireland at underage level, O’Brien was a serious threat in a potent Connemara attack and his ferocious pace helped him touch down and set up a number of tries over the course of the season.
CONNACHT SENIOR CLUB PLAYER OF THE YEAR, sponsored by Keller Travel
Jordan Conroy, Buccaneers RFC
Flying winger Jordan Conroy enjoyed an incredible season with the Buccaneers man winning the AIL Division 1B title, representing the Ireland Sevens team, and playing for Connacht Eagles in the British and Irish Cup. His club form has been truly phenomenal in a Buccaneers side that has swept all before them with the winger topping the try-scoring charts in Division 1B of the All Ireland League.
OUTSANDING CONTRIBUTION TO RUGBY, sponsored by AIB
Chris Davies has been the driving force behind schools rugby in Connacht over the past decade and has made an outstanding contribution across the province. Chris went above and beyond with his efforts as Chairman of the Schools Committee. He steps away from the role after nine years in which he has played a huge role in the development of schools rugby as the number of games being played tripled in recent years.