Newly-appointed Ireland U21 manager Stephen Kenny has been named SSE Airtricity/SWAI Personality of the Year for 2018 at the annual awards ceremony tonight.
The 47-year-old masterminded an SSE Airtricity League Premier Division and Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup double as his parting gift to Dundalk before ending a hugely-successful six-year spell at Oriel Park to take up his latest role with the FAI.
Dubliner Kenny is set to replace Mick McCarthy as Ireland senior boss after Euro 2020.
He saw off two of his former players in Lilywhites pair Chris Shields (runner-up) and Pat Hoban (third) to claim the prize for the third time at Dublin’s Conrad Hotel, having previously won it in 2014 and 2016.
“It’s been an incredible six years with Dundalk Football Club. It was just a brilliant period with an exceptional group of players and a very dedicated coaching team. It was unprecedented and a real privilege to see a group of young men develop and grow,” Kenny said.
“Last year with the takeover at Dundalk we didn’t know where we stood. To win the Double was amazing and with the points record and goal record, you can’t beat a season like that.
“Some of the previous winners of this award who managed Ireland – Mick Meagan, Liam Tuohy, John Giles, Eoin Hand and Brian Kerr – it’s an honour to follow in their footsteps.
“I’ve won this award three times now, you can’t predict how life will go. To be manager of the international Under-21 team is an honour. I feel like I’m representing everyone here and from my point of view it’s been a privilege.”
The other nominees were Michael Duffy (Dundalk), Bohemians manager Keith Long and UCD boss Collie O’Neill – winner of the First Division title.
Goalkeeper of the Year went to Shane Supple, who was a key player for Bohemians last season. A leader on and off the pitch, the 31-year-old earned a call-up to Martin O’Neill’s Ireland squad for the first time but he was forced to retire from the game in November due to a persistent hip injury.
‘It’s nice obviously. It’s a sad time for me realising I had to retire. As goalkeepers, we usually get longer in the game but I’ve had to retire and this award eases it a little bit,’ Supple said.
‘It’s a career I’ll ook back fondly on. The League of Ireland has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of my career. Especially the club I played for. Bohemians have given me great memories and I’ve made great friends.
‘I hope to stay involved in the game in some way. Bohs are a club close to my heart.’
Former winners Gary Rogers (Dundalk) and Mark McNulty (Cork City) were second and third respectively.
Meanwhile, Aine O’Gorman received the International Achievement Award after calling time on her Ireland career in 2018. The Peamount United star won 100 caps for the Girls in Green over a 12-year period.
Vincent Hoey also picked up the Liam Tuohy Special Merit Award for his years of service to the game as long-serving Drogheda United chairman.