After a magnificent season, it came as little surprise that Linfield scooped the top prizes at the annual NI Football awards in Belfast last night.
The newly crowned champions of the Danske Bank Premiership and Gibson Cup defenders saw their central defender Jimmy Callacher named as Player of the Year and their gaffer David Healy awarded BetMcLean Manager of the Year.
Paul McLean of BetMcLean.com told us how honoured he was to bestow the award to ex Northern Ireland striker David Healy after “An amazing season of football and a stunning display by Linfield throughout”. Healy has been in charge at Windsor Park for the last four years and now has two Premiership titles under his belt and now has his second Manager of the Year accolade, not bad for his first management role! Linfield finished fourth last year but Healy steadied the ship to finish ten points ahead of Ballymena and did the double by winning the Irish League title this season also, a very worthy winner by all accounts.
Healy was very humble in his acceptance saying “As a manager you’re only as good as your players and I’m so proud of them. I’d also like to thank the board and my back room staff for their dedication this season.”
Linfield’s central defender Jimmy Callacher saw off team mate and striker Andrew Waterworth and Ballymena forward Adam Lecky to be crowned Ulster Player of the Year and also Linfield Player of the Year. He has just shy of 200 appearances for the club under his belt and has been instrumental in the rock solid defense from Linfield this season. Callacher is not only a fantastic defender but also poses a serious goal scoring threat from set pieces. He scored in excess of nineteen goals since he joined Linfield five years ago.
Kofi Balmer, the eighteen year centre back for Ballymena was awarded the Spanish Dream Homes Young Player of the Year for his pivotal role in Ballymena’s defence this season. He beat off stiff competition from Glenavon’s Caolan Marron and Coleraine’s Ben Doherty. Balmer has been with the club since he transferred from Linfield in 2017 and has made in excess of 60 appearances for Ballymena aswell as captaining the Northern Ireland U19’s. He is a rising star in the sport and has generated lots of interest from the UK and it is piped to follow in Gavin Whyte’s footsteps.
Michael McCready from newly relegated Ards, bagged the award for the Goal of the Season for what can only be described as a sensation strike against Cliftonville back in September. A bittersweet night for McCready but an award thoroughly deserved.
In the Bluefin Sport Championship, Larne finished on top ahead of Carrick Rangers by seventeen points and last night Larne striker Martin Donnelly was rightly crowned Player of the Year. The talisman scored nineteen goals this season with three assists. Donnelly and five of his team mates were named in Team of the Year also.
Midfielder Ryan Mc Cready of Queen’s University won the Premier Intermediate Player of Year for 2018/2019 season with five goals and three assists in just nine appearances!
Meanwhile Crumlin Star, winners of the Intermediate Cup won the Jimmy Dubopis Non- Senior Team of the Year award.
Electric Ireland Women’s Personality of the Year went to the fantastic Billie Simpson of Cliftonville Ladies.
There was one award handed out to a local player who is playing outside of Northern Ireland, with Watford and Northern Ireland international centre-back Craig Cathcart awarded the International Player of the Year.
After a thrilling season of football in all leagues, the players can rightly take a breather and we look forward to start of next season!
For the Best Betting in All Football please click HERE