Vinny Perth wins Personality of the Year at SSE Airtricity League/Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Diamond Jubilee Awards.
The 2019 SSE Airtricity League/SWAI Goalkeeper of the Year is Gary Rogers.
Dundalk were celebrating a double success after head coach Vinny Perth and goalkeeper Gary Rogers scooped the two prestigious prizes at the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road.
Perth stepped up to the top job at Oriel Park following the departure of Stephen Kenny and ensured the Lilywhites’ domestic dominance continued.
Perth saw off one of his own players to take the accolade with defender Seán Gannon finishing third in the voting. Runner up on the night was Shamrock Rovers midfielder Jack Byrne, who enjoyed a stellar 2019 with a call-up to the senior Republic of Ireland squad as well as helping the Hoops lift the FAI Cup for the first time in 32 years.
“This is a really special award, I’ve been coming here a long time, usually carrying the trophy to the back of Stephen’s (Kenny) car.
“It’s an awkward one to win, you’re competing against your own players, you see the job Keith Long has done with Bohs and it’s great to see Stephen’s (Bradley) quality to shine through at a big club and win a trophy.
“I’m proud to be part of this league and when I see someone like Jack Byrne get an Ireland call up on merit it just shows the ability there is here. I’m proud of what Jack has done.
“It’s a real honour to get this award but I’m particularly proud of Chris (Shields) Sean (Gannon) who epitomise what we’re about.”
The other nominees were Rovers boss Stephen Bradley, (Dundalk), Bohemians manager Keith Long and Dundalk midfielder Chris Shields.
Goalkeeper of the Year went to Rogers, who was once again a consistent and calming presence for the champions last season. A leader on and off the pitch, Rogers had the most clean sheets (27) in all competitions and now holds the record for European appearance by a League of Ireland player (45).
“Its a great way to start off the year. You’ve got to enjoy these moments,” Rogers said.
“I’m enjoying these great times at Dundalk. It’s been a really good period for the club and a purple patch with our success. I want to be part of contributing to that in the future.”
Rogers pipped second place Alan Mannus of Shamrock Rovers with Bohemians’ James Talbot in third.
Michelle O’Neill was honoured with the Liam Tuohy Special Merit Award after the Wexford official was assistant referee as part of the first female team to take charge of a major men’s European final in the UEFA Super Cup between Liverpool and Chelsea.
O’Neill, a referee in the FAI Continental Tyres Women’s National League and assistant in the SSE Airtricity League, also had the major honour of assisting match referee Stephanie Frappart for the Women’s World Cup final between the USA and the Netherlands.
On the domestic front, O’Neill officiated the Unite the Union Champions Cup between Dundalk and Linfield.
“I just want to say thank you very much because this is a fantastic honour,” she said.
“Being a part of the World Cup final, it was the realisation of all the hard work, walking out and achieving my dreams. That’s the pinnacle of my career.”
“Every time I step outside of Ireland and put on my referee kit I see myself as representing Ireland and I want to do the country proud.
“It starts all over again, another World Cup campaign, you never know, the Olympics is this year too!”
The night was capped off with Republic of Ireland and Celtic legend Packie Bonner receiving the International Achievement Award almost 30 years on from his penalty shootout heroics against Romania at Italia 90.
To mark the occasion of the SWAI’s 60th anniversary, a 48-page colour booklet was produced chronicling the winners of both monthly and annual awards. Guests on the night were presented with a copy of the booklet and an electronic copy of this collector’s item will be available to view shortly on our website, swai.ie.
The officers of the SWAI would like to place on record their gratitude to Totum Sports (@totumsport) for sponsoring the publication. We also thank Paddy Power (@paddypower) for their generous contribution towards making the annual banquet a night to remember.