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Carling Football Writers Awards: Crusaders' shooting star Stuart scoops rare double

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Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers Awards at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. Crusaders' Stuart Dallas was awarded the Carling Player of the Year at the Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers Annual Banquet last night at the Europa Hotel, Belfast

Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers Awards at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. Crusaders' Stuart Dallas was awarded the Carling Player of the Year at the Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers Annual Banquet last night at the Europa Hotel, Belfast

Northern Ireland international and Ipswich Town player Gareth McAuley was awarded the Carling International Personality of the Year award. Presenting the award to Gareth is Carling's Niall McMullan with  Carling girl Melissa Patton

Northern Ireland international and Ipswich Town player Gareth McAuley was awarded the Carling International Personality of the Year award. Presenting the award to Gareth is Carling's Niall McMullan with Carling girl Melissa Patton

Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers Awards at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. Linfield boss David Jeffrey receives the Carling Manager of the Year award from Carling's Niall McMullan and Carling girl Melissa Patton

Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers Awards at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. Linfield boss David Jeffrey receives the Carling Manager of the Year award from Carling's Niall McMullan and Carling girl Melissa Patton

Crusaders Stuart Dallas was awarded the Carling Player of the Year at the Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers star-studded Annual Banquet last night at the Europa Hotel, Belfast

Crusaders Stuart Dallas was awarded the Carling Player of the Year at the Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers star-studded Annual Banquet last night at the Europa Hotel, Belfast

Crusaders' Stuart Dallas is interviewed by Jackie Fullerton

Crusaders' Stuart Dallas is interviewed by Jackie Fullerton

Hall of Fame inductee Glenn Ferguson (right) with Jackie Fullerton

Hall of Fame inductee Glenn Ferguson (right) with Jackie Fullerton

Glenn Ferguson is presented with his Hall of Fame award by Mark McIntosh

Glenn Ferguson is presented with his Hall of Fame award by Mark McIntosh

Glentoran's Matty Burrows was awarded the Carling Goal of the Season. Presenting the award to Matty is Nigel Worthington and Carling girl Melissa Patton

Glentoran's Matty Burrows was awarded the Carling Goal of the Season. Presenting the award to Matty is Nigel Worthington and Carling girl Melissa Patton

Glenn Ferguson with Jimmy Jones

Glenn Ferguson with Jimmy Jones

Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers Awards at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. Crusaders' Stuart Dallas receives the Carling Young Player of the Year award from Gerry Armstrong  and Carling girl Catherine Jennings

Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers Awards at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. Crusaders' Stuart Dallas receives the Carling Young Player of the Year award from Gerry Armstrong and Carling girl Catherine Jennings

Linfield's Peter Thompson receives the Sunday Life Golden Boot award from Sunday Life Sports Editor Paul Ferguson. Also pictured is  Carling girl Catherine Jennings

Linfield's Peter Thompson receives the Sunday Life Golden Boot award from Sunday Life Sports Editor Paul Ferguson. Also pictured is Carling girl Catherine Jennings

Jackie Fullerton (left) speaks to Linfield manager David Jeffrey

Jackie Fullerton (left) speaks to Linfield manager David Jeffrey

Crusaders' Stuart Dallas was awarded the Carling Player of the Year at the Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers star-studded Annual Banquet last night at the Europa Hotel, Belfast. Pictured presenting the award to Stuart is Carling's Niall McMullan and Carling girl Melissa Patton

Crusaders' Stuart Dallas was awarded the Carling Player of the Year at the Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers star-studded Annual Banquet last night at the Europa Hotel, Belfast. Pictured presenting the award to Stuart is Carling's Niall McMullan and Carling girl Melissa Patton

Roy Coyle and Terry Brannigan pictured at The Crown Bar, Belfast

Roy Coyle and Terry Brannigan pictured at The Crown Bar, Belfast

Liam Beckett, Gerard Lawlor and Michael Clarke

Liam Beckett, Gerard Lawlor and Michael Clarke

Don Horner from Ballyclare Comrades was awarded the Carling Merit award. Pictured presenting the award to Eric is NIFWA Chairman Stephen Looney pictured with Carling girl Mellissa Patton

Don Horner from Ballyclare Comrades was awarded the Carling Merit award. Pictured presenting the award to Eric is NIFWA Chairman Stephen Looney pictured with Carling girl Mellissa Patton

Glenn Ferguson with Jackie Fullerton

Glenn Ferguson with Jackie Fullerton

Stuart Dallas was awarded the Carling Young Player of the Year. Pictured with him is Jordana Grimes and Denise Catney  from Carling

Stuart Dallas was awarded the Carling Young Player of the Year. Pictured with him is Jordana Grimes and Denise Catney from Carling

Hall of Fame inductee Jimmy Jones with Catherine Jennings and Paula Nesbitt from Carling

Hall of Fame inductee Jimmy Jones with Catherine Jennings and Paula Nesbitt from Carling

Paul Heatley was awarded the Carling Championship Player of the Year. Pictured presenting the award to Paul Heatley is Carling's Niall McMullan with Catherine Jennings

Paul Heatley was awarded the Carling Championship Player of the Year. Pictured presenting the award to Paul Heatley is Carling's Niall McMullan with Catherine Jennings

Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers Awards at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. Glenn Ferguson with his father Tommy (centre) and brother Gary

Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers Awards at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. Glenn Ferguson with his father Tommy (centre) and brother Gary

Hall of Fame inductee Jimmy Jones with Malcolm Brodie

Hall of Fame inductee Jimmy Jones with Malcolm Brodie

Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers Awards at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. Hall of Fame inductee Jimmy Jones

Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers Awards at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. Hall of Fame inductee Jimmy Jones

Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers Awards at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. Linfield boss David Jeffrey receives the Carling Manager of the Year award from Carling's Niall McMullan

Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers Awards at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. Linfield boss David Jeffrey receives the Carling Manager of the Year award from Carling's Niall McMullan

Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers Awards at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. Crusaders' Stuart Dallas was awarded the Carling Player of the Year at the Carling Northern Ireland Football Writers Annual Banquet last night at the Europa Hotel, Belfast

For only the second time in history, an Irish League player has scooped the Young Player and Player of the Year awards in the same season.

Eighteen years on from Bangor winger Paul Byrne’s double success, Cruaders youngster Stuart Dallas repeated the trick.

The fact that the ‘player double’ has only been achieved twice underlines the significance of the achievement and the promise and potential shown by the boy from Cookstown.

In 1993 Byrne netted both gongs before sealing a move to Celtic and many observers feel Dallas has the tools to prosper in the professional game across the water.

But that’s a question that will be answered in time. Last night Dallas was the toast of Carling, with the local football scribes recognising they have a special young talent in their midst.

Although the Crues finished the season without a trophy, Dallas’ 18 goals represent a stunning return during a campaign in which they reached the Irish Cup final, finished in the top two for the first time since they won the title in 1997, qualified for Europe and reached the semi-finals of both the Co-operative Insurance Cup and County Antrim Shield.

Few people had heard of Dallas when he was involved in a relegation battle with Coagh United in Championship One last season, but he’s already a household name in the local game after an explosive first campaign in the top flight.

Blessed with blistering pace, he’s at his best running at defenders and the boy also knows how to finish. While Dallas cherished his top player gong at the Europa Hotel last night — seeing off the challenge of Portadown’s Ross Redman and Glenavon’s Mark Haughey — the man who helped break his heart in the Irish Cup final captured the Manager of the Year prize for the eighth time.

David Jeffrey, who has now pocketed 28 trophies as Linfield boss, has guided his team to five doubles in six seasons.

It’s an extraordinary achievement, particularly at a club where the expectation levels and demands for silverware are so high.

The Blues were convincing league champions, romping home 11 points clear of second-placed Crusaders.

Jeffrey beat Lisburn Distillery’s Tommy Wright and Crusaders’ Stephen Baxter to the manager’s gong.

Wright had an excellent season at the Whites, masterminding a Co-operative Insurance Cup final victory and steering the club into the top six.

Baxter’s side played the best football seen on the Shore Road in 14 years and although their trophy cabinet has not been unlocked, the players can hold their heads high after a rather remarkable campaign.

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There is little doubt that this has been the best season of Gareth McAuley’s international career.

That is why the 30-year-old was named International Personality of the Year with top drawer performances set to net McAuley a move to the Premier League in either England or Scotland.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Jewell has confirmed that McAuley is to leave the club despite being offered a new contract, with West Bromwich Albion likely to beat Rangers to his signature.

Award winners

Carling Player of the Year: Stuart Dallas (Crusaders)

Young Player of the Year: Stuart Dallas (Crusaders)

Manager of the Year: David Jeffrey (Linfield)

Championship Player of the Year: Paul Heatley (Carrick Rangers)

Carling Non-Senior Trophy: Carrick Rangers

Merit Award winner: Don Horner (Ballyclare Comrades)

Hall of Fame inductees: Jimmy Jones, Glenn Ferguson

International Personality of the Year: Gareth McAuley

Goal of the Season: Matty Burrows (Glentoran v Portadown, October 6, 2010)

Carling Team of the Year: Blayney (Linfield), Redman (Portadown), Coates (Crusaders), Nixon (Glentoran), Smith (Ballymena), Garrett (Linfield), Gault (Linfield), Dallas (Crusaders), Morrow (Crusaders), Thompson (Linfield), Owens (Crusaders).

Belfast Telegraph