Aoife Dalton of Ireland in action against Italy’s Varonica Madia during the Women’s Six Nations Rugby Championship match in Parma last month. Photo: Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile

Young Player of the Year award for Clara woman

Clara native Aoife Dalton has been chosen as the Women’s Young Player of the Year at the Rugby Players Ireland Awards.

The Offaly woman was one of the standout players for Leinster in this year’s Interprovincial Series before joining up with the Ireland squad for the 2023 Six Nations campaign.

And having just turned 20 years of age, it has certainly been a breakthrough year for the Old Belvedere player. A former player with Tullamore RFC, Aoife is a past pupil of Moate Community School.

There was another Offaly winner in the Rugby Players Ireland Awards, with Ireland captain Nichola Fryday receiving the AIB Corporate Banking Women’s Try of the Year award. The Kilcormac native was chosen for the award by virtue of her try against Scotland in this year’s Six Nations.

Fryday was also among the nominees for the Bank of Ireland’s Women’s Players’ Player of the Year, which went to Neve Jones following a stand-out season from the hooker.

Meanwhile, Leinster and Ireland’s Caelan Doris was named as the Bank of Ireland’s Men’s Players’ Players of the Year for 2023.

Many of the biggest names in Irish rugby were present at the Clayton Hotel on the Burlington Road in Dublin earlier this week for what was a celebration of the season’s highs and lows across all teams.

Further accolades were presented to Irish player Andrew Smith who was named as the TritonLake Men’s 7s Player of the Year 2023 for the first time. Leinster’s Alex Soroka’s outstanding contribution through fundraising for the Ukrainian effort was also recognised in his winning of the Zurich Contribution to Irish Society Award, while Munster’s Jack Crowley was presented with the Nevin Spence Men’s Young Player of the Year Award.

Despite three strong contenders in the mix, Mack Hansen’s triumphant team try against South Africa last November prevailed to claim the MSL Mercedes-Benz Dealerships’ Men’s Try of the Year acknowledgement.

Ireland 7s Captain Lucy Mulhall claimed the TritonLake Women’s 7s Player of the Year.

Among those in attendance was Johnny Sexton who accepted the Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort Moment of the Year Award on behalf of the Grand Slam winning Irish rugby squad.