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John Hayes (centre) with Munstere CEO Garrett Fitzgerald (left) and Irish Examiner Sports Editor Tony Leen
Lorraine O'Sullivan/Inpho
Munster Awards Dinner
4 April 2007, 6:52 pm
By Pat Geraghty
John Hayes won the Player of the Year Award at the inaugural Munster Awards Dinner held in the Morans Silver Springs Hotel last Saturday night while Darragh Hurley was voted Young Player of the Year at an event sponsored by the Irish Examiner newspaper.
No ALT tag specifiedOver 450 turned up for the black tie affair that had RTE Sports commentator Michael Corcoran as MC and the entertainment provided by Mario Rosenstock and former international Fergus Slattery.

It was however Rosenstock who had them rocking in the aisles with his take off first of Jose Maurinho, then Daniel O'Donnell and finally Roy Keane.

In coming up with the overall Player of the Year, four nominees were selected by the Munster squad and then an Irish Examiner poll selected Hayes ahead of David Wallace, Donncha O'Callaghan and Shaun Payne.

Hayes (33) was born in Limerick, educated in Doon CBS and lives in Nenagh. He started his rugby career in Bruff RFC before moving to No ALT tag specifiedplay in Shannon. He won the first of his 135 Munster caps against Edinburgh almost 10 years ago (August 1997) and has been a regular on the Ireland team since his international debut in Feb 2000 in the Six Nations game against Scotland at Lansdowne Road.

Hayes received his award from Munster Chief Executive Garrett Fitzgerald and Irish Examiner Sports Editor Tony Leen whose newspaper sponsored the event.

The Young Player of the Year, 21 year old Darragh Hurley from Kinsale, was educated in CBC and UCC and came through the Munster Academy system to make his Munster senior debut earlier this season in the Magners League game v Cardiff at No ALT tag specifiedThe Arms Park. A former Munster Schools, Ireland Schools and Under 21 international his 11 caps this season included a Heineken Cup start against Cardiff Blues. Munster captain Paul O'Connell was on hand to present Darragh with his award.

As Fiona Steed she was the most most capped Ireland Woman's International. Since then she married John Hayes and Fiona Hayes presented the Munster Woman's Rugby Player of the Year Award to Shannon RFC wing-forward Paula O'Connor. Now in her fourth season with Shannon, Paula has spent time playing rugby in New Zealand but won the award in just her first term with the provincial side.

The John McCarthy Award For Excellence recognises exceptional commitment and dedication within the Munster Rugby Academy. No ALT tag specifiedPrevious winners include Ross Noonan and Tomas O'Leary and this season Keith Earls from Thomond RFC won the award. Keith was unable to attend but his mother Sandra accepted on his behalf . Born in Limerick, Keith was a member of the Munster Rugby Academy at its inception in August 2004, and since January he has progressed to a full Development contract with Munster. The Award was donated on behalf of the late Count Dr John McCarthy by his family in honour of an exceptional sporting and academic character, John McCarthy.

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