Leinster and Ireland flanker Sean O’Brien has been named Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year and received his award at a function in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, this evening.
In the 2010/11 season, O’Brien started all of Leinster’s nine Heineken Cup matches scoring four tries and picking up three Man of the Match awards along the way to overall success in Cardiff in May.
O’Brien also started all of Ireland’s RBS Six Nations 2011 matches, picking up the Man of the Match award against Italy.
He earned his first cap for Ireland against Fiji in the RDS in 2009 with a second cap coming soon after against South Africa.
Ulster Bank League champions Old Belvedere were voted Club of the Year and Leinster picked up the Dave Guiney Perpetual Award as Team of the Year in recognition of their Heineken Cup final success over Northampton Saints. Leinster also reached the Magners League Grand Final, losing to Munster.
Lynne Cantwell was named Women’s Player of the Year after an outstanding season. Cantwell is Ireland Women's most capped player.
The Tom Rooney Award, for making an exceptional contribution to the game, went to referee Alan Lewis, whose refereeing record includes two World Cups and a record number of European Cup matches.
Lewis has announced his intention to retire from refereeing at the end of this season. With 45 major international Test matches to his credit, including a Rugby World Cup quarter-final and games across the RBS 6 Nations Championship and Tri Nations, Lewis is one of the longest serving IRFU international referees.
Lewis also holds the record for matches refereed in European competition with an incredible 83 matches, 71 of which were Heineken Cup games, including three semi-finals and the Heineken Cup final in 2007.
Two new members were inducted to the Guinness Hall of Fame: out-half Ollie Campbell and winger Mick Lane.
Campbell was first capped in 1976 and had to wait until 1979 to be capped again, this time controversially against Australia in Australia where he was preferred to the incumbent Tony Ward.
Campbell more than justified his selection by kicking Ireland to a series win. Campbell then became a fixture on the Irish side although the selectors tried to accommodate both himself and Ward, but it was Campbell who wore the number ten shirt as he played a major part in the acquisition of Ireland's first Triple Crown since 1949 in the 1982 season.
Lane was a member of the great Irish side of the late forties and early fifties, missing out on the 1948 Grand Slam through injury, but he was on the side that took the Triple Crown in 1949 and the side that narrowly missed another Grand Slam in 1951.
In all, Lane won 17 caps between 1946 and 1953, was picked for the Lions Tour in 1950 and was capped against both New Zealand and Australia.
Peter O’Brien of Guinness and Brendan Fanning, Chairman of the Rugby Writers of Ireland, jointly presented the awards.