PAUL O’Connell has been awarded sports person of the year award for his “outstanding achievements in rugby”.
With the former Munster and Irish captain in France – where he will play his rugby with Toulon once his injury clears – Paul’s father Mick was on hand to collect the award at the 2015 People of the Year Awards on Saturday evening last.
The awards are organised by Rehab and were broadcast live on RTE. The Yes Equality campaign recognised with the Community Group of the Year award.
The organisers said Paul deserved the award not just for his many achievements in the sport, but also because of “the leadership he has shown in Irish rugby over many years”.
“On the pitch he has laid his heart and body on the line for club and country; in the dressing room he has inspired a host of team-mates; and off the pitch, his warmth, charm and modesty has endeared him to the nation,” Rehab said.
The People of the Year Awards offer a chance for the public to honour and celebrate “the extraordinary people among us who do extraordinary things, contributing to our society and to their local communicates, friends and families,” organisers say.
Other winners on the night included John McEvoy founder of the Men’s Sheds in Ireland, Aoibheann Mangan and Padraic Godwin were winners of the Young Person of the Year Award for their work on creating awareness to farm safety and Fr Brendan McBride and Philip Grant for their tireless work throughout the Berkeley tragedy in San Francisco this year.
“We are delighted to organise the People of the Year Awards for the 41st year, and are honoured to share the stories of this year’s winners with the nation,” said Mo Flynn, Rehab Group, and chair of the adjudication panel.
“These awards give us the opportunity to acknowledge unsung heroes from communities across the country and from abroad, whose stories and achievements inspire everyone around them.
“With nominations for each winner coming from the people of Ireland, these truly are the ‘People’s Awards’ and reflect all that is good about our society. We congratulate the winners and all of the previous winners from the past four decades on their achievements and successes,” she added.