herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Dunne nets FAI gong with Villa return his target

RICHARD DUNNE has promised to be back in action with his club before the end of the season, dismissing claims that he would be sidelined until the start of the European Championship finals.

It can't be said that Dunne actually picked up the award for senior player of the year at the FAI International Awards last night as the Dubliner's arm is still in a sling due to the shoulder injury which he suffered earlier this month, so his club boss Alex McLeish effectively took the award on Dunne's behalf.

Dunne, of course, misses this week's international friendly against the Czech Republic with that shoulder problem but he insists that he will be fit to play for his club again this term.

"I want to play for Villa before the season ends, that's the aim," Dunne said after collecting his award.

"I'm hoping to go back and see the doctor in eight or nine weeks and then get back before the season is over.

"It was a great season with Ireland, a great night when we qualified against Estonia and hopefully that's a taste of what's to come in the summer."

McLeish said that Dunne's award was fully deserved. "I saw the game in Russia where he was a one-man defence and he probably deserves the award for that performance alone," said McLeish.

"We will miss him in the time he is out but we hope we can get him back before the end of the season.

"And I'd like to congratulate Mr Trapattoni on qualifying, I am jealous as Scotland haven't qualified for some time."

Darren O'Dea said he was delighted to pick up the award for the young player of the year award. "To win any trophy is great but to win it for your country is something to remember. I was honoured to win the young player of the year award last night and hopefully some day I can be up for the senior award," said O'Dea.

"Richard fully deserved the senior award, people mention the Russia game a lot but he's been fantastic for years, not just this qualifying campaign.

"We'll miss him on Wednesday, you always miss someone like Dunney but we have enough quality throughout the squad to cover for him."

Everton man Darron Gibson's goal against Wales 12 months ago was picked as Ireland's goal of the year, beating efforts by Robbie Keane and Keith Andrews.

And midfield prospect Robbie Brady's efforts with Ireland and Hull City were rewarded as the Dubliner -- on loan from Manchester United to Hull -- was picked as the U21 player of the year. Cork lad John Egan, who captained the Irish U19s as they reached the semi-finals of the European Championship finals in Romania last summer, was the U19 player of the year.

The domestic game was also recognised with two awards for Shamrock Rovers. Defender Pat Sullivan won the Airtricity League player of the year while his club won a special merit award for reaching the group stages of the Europa League.

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