Soccer writers honour Stephen Kenny for a second time
Dundalk manager named personality of the year after brilliant campaign
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny who won the SWAI Personality of the Year with Cork City goalkeeper Mark McNulty who won the Goalkeeper of the Year Award during The SSE Airtricity Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Awards at the Conrad Hotel in Dublin. Photograph: David Maher/Sportsfile
Stephen Kenny has been named as the Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Personality of the Year for the second time with the 45-year-old honoured once again by the press after a campaign in which he led Dundalk to a third straight league title and the group stages of the Europa League.
The Dubliner last won the award in 2014 and having missed out his former player Richie Towell 12 months ago, he edged out a number of the players he guided so successfully this time with Daryl Horgan, Andy Boyle and Chris Shields all having made the six strong shortlist.
It was an extraordinary year for Kenny whose other awards during 2016 included the Philips Manager of the Year.
He is, however, bound to remember it primarily for his team’s success on the field with the latest league title secured by seven points in the end while the club’s European run included wins over BATE and Maccabi Tel Aviv, both of whom have featured in the Champions League group stages in recent seasons.
The achievement was all the more remarkable that Towell, such a central figure in the previous year’s success, had departed for Brighton after having contributed almost 30 goals in all competitions during 2015.
Mark McNulty of Cork City, who conceded just 23 league goals in the 2016 campaign, was named Goalkeeper of the Year having also previously won the award in 2014. The 36 year-old was a key figure in the club’s FAI Cup success last year.
Former Ireland captain, Robbie Keane, was given a special presentation in recognition of his contribution to Irish football. The 36-year-old retired from the international game in August having scored his 68th goal in what was his 146th appearance for his country.
He had won his first cap back in 1998 under Mick McCarthy an also helped the Irish Under-19s to the European title in Cyprus that year.
The former Tottenham, Liverpool and LA Galaxy striker, in turn, made a presentation to Brendan Bradley, the League of Ireland leading scorer of all time with 235 goals over the course of his career.
The association’s Special Merit award, meanwhile, went to Joe Veselsky, the remarkable 99-year-old, who, having escaped communist Czechoslovakia after the second world war – during which he was a member of the resistance – represented Ireland in table tennis and has been involved with Dublin clubs Shamrock Rovers then UCD since the mid 70s.