IN REVIEW: 4/05-17/05

IN REVIEW: 4/05-17/05

Zurich Irish Rugby Players’ Awards 2019

Although 2018/19 might not have scaled the heights of last year, it is nevertheless important that we acknowledge the considerable achievements of professional rugby players in Ireland, both on and off the field.

On May 15th, the great and good of Irish rugby this season was celebrated at The Clayton Hotel on the Burlington Road. Current and former players gathered alongside many of the people who underpin the game in this country to reflect on a season full of highs and lows.

Hosted by Joe Molloy, with Andrew Trimble mingling with prize winners backstage, the event will be broadcast this evening on Virgin Media One at 10pm.

Congratulations to all of our prize winners, who were all given a Hugo Boss watch with thanks to Fields the Jeweller!

James Ryan – Zurich Irish Rugby Players’ Player of the Year

Anthony Brennan (CEO of Zurich Ireland) presents the award to James Ryan Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ciara Griffin – BNY Mellon Women’s XVs Player of the Year

Ciara Griffin is presented with her award by Janet Wright, Head of Fund Reporting, BNY Mellon ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Conor O’Shea – BNY Mellon Hall of Fame

RJoe Duffy, Head of Global Client Management, EMEA & Ireland Country Executive at BNY Mellon presents Conor O’Shea with his award Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Jack Carty – Virgin Media Sport Supporters’ Player of the Year

Jack Carty is presented with his award by Virgin Media Sport competition winner Shane Gubbins ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Shane Byrne – Zurich Contribution to Society

David O’Dowd, Managing Director of Zurich Life, presents Shane Byrne with his award ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Jacob Stockdale – Volkswagen Try of the Year

Gerrit Heimberg, Brand Director for Volksagen Ireland, presents the award to Rob Kearney, who accepted on behalf of Jacob Stockdale Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ireland v New Zealand – Druids Glen Moment of the Year

Peter O’Mahony receives the award on behalf of his teammates from Edward Stephenson, CEO Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

James Ryan – Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year

Nevin Spence’s former teammate Darren Cave presents James Ryan with the Young Player of the Year ward ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Terry Kennedy – Men’s 7s Player of the Year

Simon Scroope, Head of AIB Corporate Banking, presents Terry Kennedy with his award ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Darren Cave – Vodafone Medal for Excellence

Gerry Nixon, Head of Sponsorship at Vodafone Ireland presents Darren Cave with his award ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe – iZest Marketing Women’s 7s Player of the Year

Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe is presented with her award by Jenny Taaffe, CEO of iZest Marketing ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Darkness into Light

In 2009, in the Phoenix Park in Dublin, 400 people set-off on the inaugural Darkness into Light 5km walk to raise funds for Pieta House. From small beginnings, the movement has grown year on year to over 200,000 people taking part in 150 locations, in 16 countries across 5 continents. 

Whilst the demands of high-level rugby can limit participation, our members have been very supportive of the initiative. Tackle Your Feelings ambassadors Jack McGrath and Hannah Tyrrell have played their part with Hannah’s teammates rowing in behind the walk from Canada as they prepared for their World Series event in Langford. Meanwhile, members of the Irish Men’s 7s side donned their active gear in Ringsend.

Moving Parts

It was a hectic few days for Conán O’Donnell who packed his bags for Australia and turned out for Japanese outfit The Sunwolves in Super Rugby last week. O’Donnell will remain in Japan until the end of the season. Back at the prop’s former Galway haunt, Stephen Kerins steps up from the Academy while former Munster Rugby prop Rory Burke returns to Ireland from Nottingham.

In Munster, Players’ Player of the Year nominee Tadhg Beirne has seen his good form rewarded with a 2-year contract extension and will stay with the province until June 2022. U20 Grand Slam winner Craig Casey has been promoted to the senior ranks.

Our congratulations to former Leinster Rugby Academy player Conor Gilsenan who has signed a contract extension with Gallagher Premiership bound London Irish. Gilsenan will be joined at the Irish by Paddy Jackson who joins the side following a season with Top14 side Perpignan.

In the United States, Sean McNulty has joined Rugby United New York, while his New England FreeJacks teammate Tadhg Leader joins NOLA Gold Rugby on loan.

Touching Base

Ahead of Leinster Rugby’s Heineken Champions Cup Final bout with Saracens, we linked in with Richardt Strauss. Strauss, who was in Bilbao with the province last year, now spends his time on construction sites in his native South Africa.

Check out the interview here.

©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Some good news for former Munster Rugby flanker Barry O’Mahony who has secured funding from two Irish venture capital firms for his start-up Umba, which faciliates micro-loans to emerging economies in Africa.

Meanwhile, former Connacht Rugby scrum-half Conor O’Loughlin and Glofox have raised $10m in funding as they seek to expand into the United States.

While Strauss, O’Mahony and O’Loughlin have all moved on, Grenoble’s Duncan Casey is readying himself for life after rugby. Check it out here.


A smattering of Irish U20 Grand Slam winners and senior Munster Rugby players were part of Cork Constitution’s recent AIL Final victory. A special word for Duncan Williams who will be moving on from the province this summer and appeared off the bench at the Aviva Stadium. Well done to all!

Duncan Williams celebrates with his son Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

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