The 39th annual PFA Ireland Awards were held in The Marker Hotel on Saturday 10 November. It was a night of celebration for all that is good in our domestic league.
Players from both divisions were honoured along with mangers and referees also. Michael Duffy capped an incredible season for himself and his club by taking home the Player of the Year gong. He was up against his fellow Dundalk team mates, Pat Hoban and Chris Shields in this category, emphasising the dominance of Dundalk domestically this year. Jamie McGrath beat off stiff competition from Daniel Kelly of Bohs and Dylan Watts of Shamrock Rovers to land the Young Player of the Year prize and to round it all off, Stephen Kenny was crowned Premier Division Manager of the Year, his 5th award in 6 years.
In the First Division, the champions UCD also did the double with Gary O’Neill the winner of the First Division Player of the Year and his manager, Collie O’Neill winning the First Division Manager of the Year. This will put the Students in good heart heading into the campaign ahead in the Premier Division.
It was also a special night for Áine O’Gorman who was presented with a Special Achievement Award for a glittering international career and for helping to take the women’s game in this country to a new level both on and off the pitch.
Denise O’Sullivan was voted Women’s Senior International Player of the Year by her fellow Irish internationals but unfortunately, due to an injury picked up she couldn’t be there to pick up her award.
This year’s Merit Award winner was the legendary Al Finucane. An incredible career spanning 28 years with Limerick, Waterford United and Newcastlewest, which included 634 league appearances, only booked 3 times in the course of those games and also captained his country. To top it off he is the oldest player to play in european competition at 43 years and 261 days old, quite some feat and those records will be difficult to surpass in the modern game.
The referees in both divisions were also honoured with Adriano Reale the First Division Referee of the Year and Neil Doyle winning the Premier Division honour, his 3rd time to win the award.
Our Guest of Honour on the night was Niall Quinn. The former Irish international is fondly remembered for some landmark goals for his country, most notably the goal versus Holland at Italia 90 and finding the net at Wembley Stadium against England and he spoke of these memories and also about the government giving tax breaks to those who may invest in football in this country which could help to grow the game here.
The full list of winners is as follows;
Player of the Year – Michael Duffy (Dundalk)
First Division Player of the Year – Gary O’Neill (UCD AFC)
Young Player of the Year – Jamie McGrath (Dundalk)
Women’s Senior International Player of the Year – Denise O’Sullivan
Premier Division Manager of the Year – Stephen Kenny (Dundalk)
First Division Manager of the Year – Collie O’Neill (UCD AFC)
Premier Division Referee of the Year – Neil Doyle
First Division Referee of the Year – Adriano Reale
Special Achievement Award – Áine O’Gorman
Merit Award – Al Finucane
Premier Division Team of the Year
Shane Supple (Bohemian FC)
Sean Gannon (Dundalk)
Sean McLoughlin (Cork City)
Sean Hoare (Dundalk)
Darragh Leahy (Bohemian FC)
Robbie Benson (Dundalk)
Chris Shields (Dundalk)
Bastien Hery (Waterford FC)
Kieran Sadlier (Cork City)
Patrick Hoban (Dundalk)
Michael Duffy (Dundalk)
First Division Team of the Year
Dean Delany (Shelbourne FC)
Conor Kane (Drogheda Utd)
Daniel O’Reilly (Longford Town)
Liam Scales (UCD AFC)
Derek Prendergast (Shelbourne FC)
Sean Brennan (Drogheda Utd)
Gary O’Neill (UCD AFC)
Daire O’Connor (UCD AFC)
David O’Sullivan (Shelbourne FC)
Georgie Kelly (UCD AFC)
Dylan McGlade (Longford Town)