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Ryan Byrne/INPHO Kenny and Dundalk: back-to-back league champions.
# Awards Season
Stephen Kenny wins Philips Sports Manager of the Year award
League-winning Dundalk boss recognised on the eve of decisive Europa League clash in Tel Aviv.

Updated 18.50

STEPHEN KENNY HAS been named Philips Sports Manager of the Year for 2016, a year in which he led Dundalk to a third straight Airtricity League title and a Europa League fairytale.

The Lilywhites boss topped a competitive shortlist which included Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill, Irish rugby coach Joe Schmidt, Connacht’s Pat Lam, and All-Ireland winning football and hurling managers Jim Gavin and Michael Ryan.

Kenny becomes only the third active League of Ireland manager to win the prize, joining Shamrock Rovers’ Jim McLaughlin (1986) and Drogheda United’s Paul Doolin (2007).

His wife Siobhán collected the award on his behalf at Wednesday’s awards lunch in Dublin.

Kenny and Dundalk are in Israel ahead of Thursday evening’s decisive Europa League clash against Maccabi Tel Aviv. A place in the last 32 is still up for grabs, although Dundalk will also need a favour from Zenit St Petersburg when they travel to AZ Alkmaar.

Kilkenny hurler Richie Hogan was among those to pay tribute to Kenny on Wednesday.

“I couldn’t think of a more deserving winner of manager of the year than Stephen Kenny,” the Cats All-Star tweeted.

After winning the league and cup double in 2015, Dundalk defended their Premier Division crown in 2016, finishing seven points clear of rivals Cork City in a two-horse title race.

But City had the final laugh as they struck deep into stoppage time in extra time for the only goal of the FAI Cup final, denying Dundalk a double-double.

Meanwhile, the Oriel Park side were making history in Europe with an unprecedented run which saw them come through the qualifiers to take their place in the Europa League group stages, and then record a series of historic results for Irish football.

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A 1-1 draw away to AZ Alkmaar was followed up by a 1-0 win against Maccabi Tel Aviv in Dublin.

But three straight defeats since have seen Dundalk slip into third place behind Alkmaar ahead of Thursday night’s final round of games.

– An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Dundalk’s 2016 league win was their second straight Airtricity League title; it is their third (2014-16).

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