BRILLIANT WING KEITH Earls was named Munster’s Player of the Year at the southern province’s awards ceremony in Cork this afternoon.
The 30-year-old made his comeback from injury on Sunday, playing in red for the first time since January, but had already contributed five tries for his province in this campaign.
Earls also starred during Ireland’s Grand Slam campaign, with memorable moments delivered in both defence and attack by the Limerick man – not least a supreme take from a cross-field kick in Paris to inject vital momentum in Ireland’s late drive for victory.
The wing overcame opposition from Jean Kleyn and Rory Scannell for the award and is the first player to have won Academy, Young and senior Player of the Year with Munster.
Anthony Foley’s death in October 2016 is never far from the thoughts of this Munster squad. The former head coach, whose amazing European try-scoring record was just equalled by Simon Zebo on Sunday, was inducted into the Hall of Fame today. Foley’s wife Olive accepted the award at the ceremony.
“Inducting Axel posthumously into our Hall of Fame is a circumstance we never envisaged, all can agree it is an honour that would never have eluded him,” said Munster in this afternoon’s release of the award winners.
“There can be little doubt that such a figurehead is more than worthy of the honour.”
Centre Sam Arnold, a member of Ireland’s Six Nations training group, won the Young Player of the Year award. The 22-year-old established himself as a powerful presence in Munster’s midfield after an injury-plagued first season after his move from Ulster.
Second row Fineen Wycherley took the Academy Player of the Year award, while Joy Neville was named Referee of the Year.
Women’s Player of the Year went to Gill Bourke after the hooker’s integral role in Munster reclaiming the inter-provincial title. Bourke also played for Munster in the inaugural women’s Barbarian fixture before donning the BaaBaas jersey for a fixture in March.
Other categories announced at Munster’s 2017/18 awards ceremony:
Senior Club of the Year: Old Crescent RFC
Junior Club of the Year: Richmond RFC
Club Youth Section of the Year: Newport RFC
Club mini Section of the Year: Killarney RFC
School of the Year: Glenstal Abbey