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Red-hot Craig Gilroy clinches Player of the Year double

By Michael Sadlier

Craig Gilroy's current form landed him a double accolade at last night's Heineken Ulster Rugby Awards after he was named as both the Bank of Ireland Ulster Player of the Year and the Ulster Rugby Writers' Player of the Year.

The 23-year-old is currently the PRO12's leading try scorer with 11 with six of his current league total coming from the last five games.

Including European matches, Gilroy - who also this season became the youngest player to make 100 appearances for the province - has, so far, touched down an impressive 13 times for Ulster, who have made the play-offs for the third year running.

Skipper Rory Best was named Heineken Ulster Rugby Personality of the Year at last night's awards dinner which was held in the Culloden Hotel, while Darren Cave was presented with the Outstanding Player of the Season award by the Ulster Rugby Supporters' Club.

Stuart McCloskey secured the BT Young Player accolade and Sam Arnold lifted the Hughes Insurance Academy Player award.

Ballynahinch were named Kukri Club of the Year for the third year in a row, while Oisin Quinn from Randalstown won the Referee of the Year award.

Lauren Maginnes was selected as The Errigle Inn Womens' Player of the Year and Ballynahinch's Paul Pritchard won the Ken Goodall Award for Outstanding Club Player.

Armoy's Tom Christie took the Dorrington B Faulkner Award for services to rugby following a remarkable playing career that has spanned 40 seasons.

Full list of Ulster Rugby Awards winners

Heineken Ulster Rugby Personality of the Year: Rory Best

Bank of Ireland Ulster Player of the Year: Craig Gilroy

BT Young Player of the Year: Stuart McCloskey

Rugby Writers' Player of the Year: Craig Gilroy

URSC Outstanding Player of the Season: Darren Cave

Hughes Insurance Ulster Academy Player of the Year: Sam Arnold

Kukri Sports Club of the Year: Ballynahinch RFC

Referee of the Year: Oisin Quinn

The Errigle Inn Ulster Women's Player of the Year: Lauren Maginnes

Ken Goodall Club Player of the Year: Paul Pritchard, Ballynahinch

Dorrington B Faulkner Award: Thomas Christie, Armoy

Danske Bank Schools' Player of the Year: Robert Lyttle, MCB

Ulster Carpets Youth Player of the Year: Aaron Hall, Ballyclare High School

City of Derry stand between Ballynahinch and the Ulster League and Cup double this season.

The Ballymacarn Park side have home advantage as they look to retain the Stevenson Shield for a third consecutive year and will be fielding a stronger side following an unexpected 19-10 defeat at Armagh a fortnight ago.

Director of Rugby Ronnie Duncan said: "Playing in the top Division of the AIL presents a lot of challenges in terms of player management, particularly with the level of intensity needed.

"When you add in the extra demands of the Ulster League and Cup, you have to be able to call on a vast bank of players. One final effort will see them rightly earn the League and Cup double."

Ulster Juniors defeated Connacht 20-12 at the weekend but they need to overcome Munster at Carrickfergus today (5.00pm) to keep up their challenge.

Belfast Telegraph

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