It has been a progressive year for rugby sevens in Ireland, and that momentum was shown at the annual Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards ceremony in Dublin on Wednesday evening.
While James Ryan picked up the prestigious Players’ Player of the Year accolade, the duo of Terry Kennedy and Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe picked up the male and female honours for the sevens players of the year.
Murphy held off stiff competition from Louise Galvin and Lucy Mulhall to win the award. The Irish captain has been in fine form throughout the HSBC World Series this year and played a crucial role in their 11th place finish in Tokyo earlier this month. The 24-year-old scored a hat-trick of tries in their 43-5 victory over Brazil during the competition.
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This accolade caps her third success in as many years and has seen all her hard work from the age of 15 rewarded. She was first picked up by sevens coaches aged 18 and made her debut in the sport in 2014. Since then she has gone on to claim the record of the most Irish sevens tries and has recorded 49 tries in the World Series to date.
Meanwhile, Kennedy was rewarded for his starring role in ensuring Ireland’s participation in next seasons World Series, after a gripping victory over hosts Hong Kong last month. Kennedy played a crucial role in their win after converting a try to open up a 28-7 advantage. Next year’s World Series will mark the first occasion that the country has played a recurring role in the tournament.
However, they already have the London Sevens to look forward to, as they will play England at Twickenham to open the tournament in a mouth-watering tie. They will face stiff competition in Pool C, as they will also face off against New Zealand and Scotland. But, undoubtedly, it will be a task that Kennedy and his Irish teammates will be relishing.
The CEO of Rugby Players Ireland, Simon Keogh, was full of praise for the sevens winners as well as all the other winners on the night. Speaking to Irish Rugby, he said: “Winning a Zurich Irish Rugby Players award is the highest honour an individual player can receive in Ireland.
“To be acknowledged by your teammates and opponents in this manner goes some way to justifying the sacrifices that are required to make it at the top-level of the game. James Ryan has enjoyed a fantastic season, as have all those who have won awards tonight.”
Main photo: Irish Rugby