The nominees for the 2019 SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland flagship awards have been announced today, Tuesday, December 17th.
The Personality of the Year and Goalkeeper of the Year awards will be presented at the banquet in Dublin’s Clayton Burlington Hotel on Friday, January 10, 2020, for what will be the 60th annual SWAI showpiece,
In the Personality of the Year shortlist, the six nominees are split evenly between three managers and three players, who all enjoyed memorable seasons in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
Dundalk boss Vinny Perth, Shamrock Rovers head coach Stephen Bradley and Bohemians manager Keith Long have all been shortlisted for their success in 2019.
Perth took over from Stephen Kenny and ensured the Lilywhites retained their Premier Division crown, while Bradley ended Rovers’ 32-year wait for the FAI Cup.
European football will return to Dalymount Park for the first time since 2013 after Long guided the Gypsies to a third place finish.
Dundalk duo Seán Gannon and Chris Shields have been recognised for their consistently excellent performances all year, while Jack Byrne completes the six-man shortlist having forced his way into the senior Republic of Ireland squad with his displays for Shamrock Rovers.
For the Goalkeeper of the Year award, Rovers, Dundalk and Bohemians once again make up the representation with Gary Rogers, Alan Mannus and James Talbot getting the nod respectively.
The Lilywhites’ No 1 had a record-breaking season domestically and in Europe while the Hoops stopper was the hero with his saves in the FAI Cup final penalty shootout.
At 22-years-old, Talbot is the youngest player nominated across both categories and he showed his class as he, too, was recognised with an international call-up by Mick McCarthy.
Personality of the Year
Stephen Bradley (Shamrock Rovers): Ended the Hoops’ 32-year famine in the FAI Cup to secure the first piece of silverware of his reign, having finished runners up in the league and negotiated one round of Europa League qualifying.
Jack Byrne (Shamrock Rovers): Forced his way into the senior Republic of Ireland squad on the back of exciting and effective performances. As well as contributing goals which caught the eye, the Rovers playmaker was also named PFA Ireland player of the year.
Sean Gannon (Dundalk): The right back was once again one of the best performers week in week out. Gannon is now well on course to become the most decorated League of Ireland player of all time and his importance to the Lilywhites’ cause was evident with 33 starts in 36 league games.
Keith Long (Bohemians): In his fifth season in charge at Dalymount Park, Long once again rejuvenated a Bohemians side that finished in third place, ensuring qualification to
the Europa League qualifiers for the first time since 2013.
Vinny Perth (Dundalk): Stepped up to the top job following Stephen Kenny’s departure and ensured Dundalk continued their dominance of the Premier Division. Recognised by the PFAI with their manager of the year gong, Perth ensured the Oriel Park faithful tasted success in the same style they’ve been accustomed to.
Chris Shields (Dundalk): Reached a milestone 300th competitive appearance for Dundalk as he continued to lead by example in the centre of the pitch. Dundalk once again set the standard in the Premier Division with the Dubliner a consistent force driving the champions to retain their crown.
Goalkeeper of the year
Alan Mannus (Shamrock Rovers): The hero of the FAI Cup final with his saves in the shootout, the former Northern Ireland international returned to the Hoops for a second spell and straight away helped to stabilise the defence. Helped Rovers to the best home defensive record in the top flight with just seven goals conceded.
Gary Rogers (Dundalk): Now holds the record for European appearances for a League of Ireland player (45) and continued to raise the bar with the most clean sheets (27) in all competitions during a single season, as well as equalling Alan O’Neill’s league record of 23 shutouts stretching back to 1991.
James Talbot (Bohemians): Considered quitting the game after returning home from Sunderland to play Gaelic football. Talbot signed as understudy to Shane Supple but when he was forced to retire the 22-year-old stepped up and his displays led to a call up to the senior Ireland squad. Marshalled a defence which helped secure European football.