Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE Andrew Trimble has captured just about every major individual award in Irish rugby this season.
# Friendly Rivalry
Bowe praises Trimble's 'fantastic season' but wants his Ireland jersey back
The Ulster wingers are vying for the No.14 jersey but hope Joe Schmidt will find room for them both in the back three.

ANDREW TRIMBLE’S SEASON to remember has been marked with another personal accolade but is aware of the ever-present threat for his Ireland jersey.

The Ulster winger took home the IRUPA player of the year award last night and told Scott Quinnell, the ceremony’s M.C, that he had designs on spending some of his summer in Argentina with the Irish squad. With Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, who was also at the event, reflecting that he may rest hard-pushed players from next month’s tour of duty, Trimble’s response was sharp. He is not willing to give up that 14 jersey.

Trimble was on the fringes of the Ireland squad in 2012/13 but shone for his province as Declan Kidney opted for the likes of Tommy Bowe, Simon Zebo and Craig Gilroy. He scored 12 tries in 26 Ulster appearances and willingly travelled to North America when Less Kiss too over as caretaker coach. He scored against Canada but many expected him to drop down the pecking order when the recognised starters got back from the Lions Tour.

He missed out on the November internationals but injuries to Bowe, Zebo and Fergus McFadden gave him a start against Scotland in the Six Nations opener. He scored a vital try before half-time to wilt the Scots’ resistance and never looked back. He scored in Paris and his second-half break led to Jonny Sexton’s second try as Ireland won the championship.

Hibernia College IRUPA Rugby Player Awards 2014 Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE Trimble with Leinster player, and IRUPA chairman, Rob Kearney. Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

Ulster teammate Bowe was fit enough to feature in the final two games of Ireland’s championship but Schmidt stuck with the man who had delivered for him. The 30-year-old is back in tandem with Trimble as Ulster target a strong finish to the RaboDirect Pro12 season.

Speaking about Trimble at last night’s awards, Bowe told “He’s had a fantastic year and, I suppose, a fantastic two years. He was Ulster’s player of the year last season. He won that again and was the Irish player of the year as well.

It is amazing for Andrew and he has had a fantastic season. He’s had a tough time over the last couple of years [before 2014] in the green jersey but it is about taking your opportunity when it comes. He has absolutely grabbed it with two hands.

Upon receiving his Players’ Player of the Year award, Trimble said: “It is an honour to be recognised with this award, especially as it’s voted for by the players.  It’s been a great season and this really tops it all off.”

For all of his praise for his provincial teammate, Bowe has his sights on a starting Ireland jersey this summer. Whether he edges out Trimble or Dave Kearney is immaterial, as long as he gets the opportunity to remind Joe Schmidt of his talents.

“Having missed out on the Six Nations, the likes of Andrew, Dave and Fergus McFadden have come in. It is very much their jersey and it is up to us to come and get it off them. For me, I’ll need to be at the top of my game to earn that jersey back.”

Andrew Trimble voted the IRUPA Player of the Year

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