Liam Brady topped the bill at the Soccer Writers of Ireland awards in Dublin as the recipient of the International Achievement award.
It’s been a busy time for Brady. The Arsenal legend took leave of RTÉ after 25 years as a football pundit; there was a documentary about his life, when he revealed his love for Bob Dylan; and a riveting second autobiography – Born to be a Footballer – allowed him revisit his seven years playing in Italy and distinguished time in England.
Brady signed off from RTÉ on what seemed a sour note. In defending the challenge facing Stephen Kenny as Irish manager, the 67-year-old noted that it was the “worst group of Irish players” he’d ever seen.
“It’s a very young squad which reflected Stephen Kenny’s way of working and bringing players through,” said Brady speaking at the awards. “It will help his successor that there are players with plenty of games at international level under their belts and there is a squad of players to work with.
“For that, Kenny deserves credit.
“I got a reaction earlier this year when I said I felt this was one of the worst Ireland squads I’d seen. I meant it was one of the least talented in terms of where the players were playing compared to my time with Ireland when we had players at bigger clubs.
“We’ve a few more players playing in the Premier League this season which is also a help to the new manager who has got a fighting chance, I feel. He needs to be cute and find a way to get results, especially against the teams we are expected to beat. That’s where we’ve fallen down in recent campaigns.
“It’s disappointing to be missing out on the Euros next summer especially when so many teams are involved these days. I know getting to World Cup in 2026 will be difficult. Two years after Euro ‘88, we came second to Spain in our group and qualified for the World Cup. Now, second place only gets you a play-off, so that’s become harder.”
Peamount United captain Karen Duggan won the woman’s personality of the year award, after leading the club to a first League of Ireland title in three years while Shamrock Rovers four in a row manager Stephen Bradley was named men’s personality of the year.
Brian Kerr stole the show when presenting fellow St Patrick’s Athletic stalwart Phil Mooney with the Liam Tuohy Special Merit prize, awarded in recognition of Mooney’s service to Irish football.