Just make mine a treble, says Andrew Trimble
ULSTER'S rugby stars and achievements of 2013-14 were recalled and rewarded on Saturday night when established names, promising youngsters and unsung heroes were joined by past-masters, sponsors and supporters for the annual Heineken-sponsored awards night.
Club captain Johann Muller, who is retiring at the end of the season, was treated to a standing ovation when, in the final presentation of the night at Belfast's Europa Hotel, he went forward to receive the Heineken Ulster Rugby Personality of the Year award.
But even the ever-eloquent South African, who told the audience that the past four years with Ulster have been the best and happiest of his rugby career, had to concede that the star of the show was Ireland's Andrew Trimble.
The fair-haired wing, who scored tries against Scotland, Italy and France to help Ireland lift the 2014 RBS 6 Nations title in Joe Schmidt's first season as head coach, notched up another treble in the form of the Bank of Ireland Ulster Player of the Year, Ulster Rugby Writers and Broadcasters' Player of the Year and the Ulster Rugby Supporters Club Player of the Year awards.
Expressing his delight at having won the supporters' accolade, the 29-year-old highlighted those fans' loyalty through good times and bad. No sooner had he returned to his seat than he was called to the platform once again, this time to receive the writers and broadcasters' prize.
With typical good humour, he suggested that with the media tending to be fickle, he was happy to have their support at this stage!
And when his name then was announced as winner of the Bank of Ireland Ulster Player of the Year award, the smile as he strode forward for the third time confirmed the satisfaction of a player BBC's Jim Neilly had just described as being 'renaissance man' in view of the manner in which he has resurrected an international career which had appeared to be over.
In collecting the BT Young Player of the Year trophy, 22-year-old Paddy Jackson proved himself more than capable of trading quips with compere Stephen Watson.