Stuart McCloskey orders a double at Ulster Rugby gala awards

Paddy Elliott and Orla McMahon of Queen's University Rugby receives the Club of the Year Award sponsored by Kukri Sports from Terry Jackson, during the Heineken Ulster Rugby Awards held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel
Paddy Elliott and Orla McMahon of Queen's University Rugby receives the Club of the Year Award sponsored by Kukri Sports from Terry Jackson, during the Heineken Ulster Rugby Awards held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel
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International centre, Stuart McCloskey, picked up two of the key awards at Thursday night’s annual Heineken Ulster Rugby annual awards.

His impressive displays both in the European Champions Cup and Guinness PRO14 which saw him make 25 appearances this season to date saw him named as both the Bank of Ireland Ulster player of the year and the coveted Ulster Rugby Supporters Club (URSC) Ulster player of the year.

Backrow forward Marcell Coetzee denied McCloskey a hat-trick when he pipped him to the much sought after Rugby Writers’ player of the year.

Exciting young prop Eric O’Sullivan also missed out on the Writers’ award but was named as the BT young Ulster player of the year.

Another of this year’s growing talented prospects Michael Lowry saw off stiff competition to be named Abbey Insurance Academy player of the year. Claire McLaughlin was awarded the Deloitte Ulster Women’s Player of the Year.

Domestically, Zara Flack (Enniskillen Royal Grammar) was the first ever recipient of the Danske Bank Girls Schools’ Player of the Year award and it was a night of celebration for Fermanagh when Enniskillen RFC scooped the coveted Kukri Ulster club of the year gong.

The SONI Real Rugby Heroes winners were Victor Kearney (Donegal) and Heather Thornton (Rainey OB), while one of the great servants to the game, Barney McGonigle, received the Dorrington B Faulkner Award.

As well as the awards ceremony five players were presented with honours caps for reaching appearance milestones in the past year ; Rob Herring (150), Andrew Warwick (100), Iain Henderson (100), Stuart McCloskey (100) and Sean Reidy (100).

The list of awards and those nominated (with the winners in bold) were:

Abbey Insurance Academy Player of the Year: Michael Lowry

CD Group Ulster A Player of the Year: Aaron Sexton

Ulster Rugby Supporters Club (URSC) Player of the Year: Stuart McCloskey.

Rugby Writers’ Player of the Year: Marcell Coetzee

BT Young Player of the Year: Eric O’Sullivan

Deloitte Ulster Women’s Player of the Year:Claire McLaughlin (Old Belvedere RFC)

Bank of Ireland Player of the Year: Stuart McCloskey

Heineken Ulster Rugby Personality of the Year: Rory Best

Ulster Carpets Youth Player of the Year:Matthew Sands (City of Armagh RFC)

Danske Bank Boys Schools’ Player of the Year: Tom Stewart (Belfast Royal Academy).

Danske Bank Girls Schools’ Player of the Year:Zara Flack (Enniskillen Royal Grammar School)

SONI Real Rugby Heroes Award (Adult Category): Victor Kearney (Donegal Town RFC)

SONI Real Rugby Heroes Award (Youth Category): Heather Thornton (Rainey Old Boys RFC)

Dorrington B Faulkner Award: Barney McGonigle

Ken Goodall Club Player of the Year: Ross Adair (Ballynahinch RFC)

Kerr’s Tyres Referee of the Year: Peter Martin

Kukri Sports Club of the Year: Queens

U18 Girls Player of the Year: Kelly McCormill.