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Offaly woman wins huge Leinster Rugby award after calling time on international career

Offaly’s own Michelle Claffey was recognized by her fellow Leinster players on Saturday night at the province’s Awards Ball at The Clayton Hotel Burlington Road in Dublin.

Leinster players past and present celebrated the 2021/22 season to date and to say a fond farewell to a number of players who have contributed much to the success of Leinster over the years.

Leinster Rugby’s incoming President Debbie Carty opened proceedings and from there over 500 guests were in the company of Master of Ceremonies Michael Corcoran.

Josh van der Flier and Offaly’s Michelle Claffey were the big winners on the night as they won their respective Bank of Ireland Players’ Player of the Year awards, while Dan Sheehan and Ella Roberts won the LAYA Healthcare Young Player of the Year Awards.

Claffey had a rollercoaster week after announcing her retirement from international rugby with Ireland on May 31.

Frank Sowman, the former Irish Rugby team manager as well as past-President and former Wanderers FC player, was the latest inductee into the Guinness Leinster Rugby Hall of Fame. Sowman was also chair of the Leinster Rugby Academy Board and the Professional Games Board for over 12 years and is currently Trustee of the Leinster Rugby Branch.

There was also time to look back on the careers and the contributions of those who would not be staying with Leinster Rugby beyond this season.

Birr man Peter Dooley, as well as Seán Cronin, Dan Leavy, Devin Toner Rory O’Loughlin, Conor O’Brien, Jack Dunne, Adam Byrne, Josh Murphy and David Hawkshaw were all celebrated for all they had achieved with Leinster Rugby over the years. Dooley will move to Ulster next season after more than 100 caps with Leinster.

Other notable winners on the night were Terenure College RFC, Newbridge College, Wilson’s Hospital School and Portarlington RFC.

There were also special recognition awards to two loyal servants of Leinster Rugby, UCD RFC’s Ray Ryan who served as Treasurer of the Leinster Rugby Branch for over 15 years, and for Bective Rangers’ Johnny O’Hagan, who served as Kitman for over 30 years with the senior team.

Leinster Rugby CEO, Mick Dawson, who retired at the end of the season was also celebrated in front of his family and friends for over 20 years at the helm.

BANK OF IRELAND LEINSTER RUGBY AWARDS 2021/22:

1. Energy Development School of the Year
Presented by: Gary Ryan, Energy
Winner: Wilson’s Hospital School

2. Bearing Point Tackle of the Year
Presented by: Eric Conway, BearingPoint
Winner: Tommy O’Brien

3. Bank of Ireland School of the Year
Presented by: Sharon Woods, Bank of Ireland
Winner: Newbridge College

4. Beauchamps Contribution to Leinster Rugby
Presented by: Sian Browne, Beauchamps
Winners: Johnny O’Hagan & Ray Ryan

5.Nissan Try of the Year
Presented by: Seamus Morgan, Nissan
Winner: Rory O’Loughlin (vs. Munster Rugby)

6. Bank of Ireland Junior Club of the Year
Presented by: Oliver Wall, Bank of Ireland
Winner: Portarlington RFC

7. Energy Senior Club of the Year
Presented by: Gary Ryan, ENERGY
Winner: Terenure College RFC

8. BDO Supporters Player of the Year
Presented by: Ciaran Medlar of BDO
Winner: Ciarán Frawley

9. Guinness Hall of Fame
Presented by: Gavin Ó Broin, Diageo
Winner: Frank Sowman

10. LAYA Healthcare Women’s Young Player of the Year
Presented by: DO O’Connor of LAYA Healthcare
Winner: Ella Roberts

11. LAYA Healthcare Men’s Young Player of the Year
Presented by: Donald Clancy of LAYA Healthcare
Winner: Dan Sheehan

12. Bank of Ireland Women’s Player’s Player of the Year
Presented by: Laura Lynch, Bank of Ireland
Winner: Michelle Claffey

13. Bank of Ireland Men’s Player’s Player of the Year
Presented by: Laura Lynch, Bank of Ireland
Winner: Josh van der Flier

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