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Callacher and Healy thrilled by top awards

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 13th May 2019 Northern Ireland Football Awards at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Belfast. Photo by Declan Roughan / Press Eye.
Danske Bank Player of the Year Award
Danske BankÕs Chris Marshall presents Jimmy Callacher with the Player of the Year Award.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 13th May 2019 Northern Ireland Football Awards at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Belfast. Photo by Declan Roughan / Press Eye. Danske Bank Player of the Year Award Danske BankÕs Chris Marshall presents Jimmy Callacher with the Player of the Year Award.
Pacemaker Press 13/05/19 Ballymena's Kofi Balmer and Manager David Jeffrey at the NI Football Awards at the Crowne Plaza in Belfast on Monday evening. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

By Steven Beacom

Linfield were celebrating another double last night at the NI Football Awards with defender Jimmy Callacher collecting the Player of the Year prize and David Healy winning the manager's trophy.

Callacher was immense for the Blues as they claimed league title success and the League Cup this season. He was an inspirational figure as Linfield racked up an impressive 21 clean sheets in their league programme and he scored nine league goals at the other end.

Those exceptional efforts were rewarded when he beat off stiff competition from fellow nominees Andrew Waterworth (Linfield) and Adam Lecky (Ballymena) to win the Player of the Year award at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast.

Last month he was named Ulster Footballer of the Year. Now he has another prestigious award voted for by the country's football writers.

"It's an honour to win this award. I have to pay tribute to the manager, the coaching staff and all the players at Linfield. They have been brilliant and really helped me this season," said the 27-year-old centre-back.

Healy also stated his award for Manager of the Year was very much a team effort. It is the second time he has won this particular award.

Northern Ireland's record goalscorer has collected many trophies for his heroics as a player. Now he is racking them up as boss. The other nominees were David Jeffrey, whose Ballymena side finished runners-up in the Danske Bank Premiership, and Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter, who led his players to Irish Cup and County Antrim Shield glory.

Unable to attend last night's ceremony, Healy was presented with his prize earlier in the day.

He said: "This trophy says more about the team and the backroom staff than me individually. It's about the team and what we've achieved this season."

Ballymena's gifted teenager Kofi Balmer was crowned Young Player of the Year. The 18-year-old defender has enjoyed a superb campaign and has the potential to become the latest winner of this prize to move across the water.

Balmer was nominated alongside Caolan Marron (Glenavon) and Ben Doherty (Coleraine).

The Championship Player of the Year was Martin Donnelly, who was instrumental in Larne winning promotion to the Premiership, while influential Queen's University star Ryan McCready was PIL Player of the Year.

Ards may have been relegated from the top flight but there was some consolation for striker Michael McLellan, whose stunning strike versus Cliftonville in September was Goal of the Season.

Billie Simpson knows all about scoring special goals. The Cliftonville Ladies ace won the Women's Football Personality of the Year.

Crumlin Star were deserving winners of the Non-Senior Team of the Year having won the Amateur League Premiership, Intermediate Cup and Border Cup.

Craig Cathcart would love to be celebrating FA Cup success this weekend. The Watford centre-back was handed a boost before Saturday's Wembley final versus treble-chasing Manchester City with the International Personality of the Year prize.

Cathcart has been outstanding for Northern Ireland in defence and is a worthy winner, overcoming fellow nominees Jamal Lewis and Stuart Dallas.

The former Manchester United player said: "I would have been at the ceremony but I'm preparing for the FA Cup final. I'm delighted to win this award."

The late, great Northern Ireland and Manchester United icon George Best was inducted into the Malcolm Brodie Hall of Fame last night with international team-mates Pat Jennings and Gerry Armstrong telling event host Adrian Logan and the audience about Bestie's brilliance.

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