Meath’s Gavin McGowan is the ‘B’ Championship’s top player

Waterford’s Stephen Bennett at the Bord Gáis Energy Team of the Year 2016

Waterford’s Stephen Bennett at the Bord Gáis Energy Team of the Year 2016

It all came down to three players in the running to become Bord Gáis Energy Player of the Year and the winner was announced tonight at Dublin’s Mansion House.  Waterford’s Stephen Bennett took home the award having fended off stiff competition from his teammates Austin Gleeson and Patrick Curran.

He follows in the footsteps of Richie English from Limerick who was crowned Player of the Year in 2015. Stephen is the first player from Waterford to win the coveted title since the awards began in 2013.

There was good news too for Meath’s Gavin McGowan.  The forward picked up the Player of the Year award for the ‘B’ championship following his man-of-the-match display in the final against Mayo at Semple Stadium.

Commenting on the selection of Stephen Bennett and Gavin McGowan for their respective awards, Bord Gáis Energy Sports Ambassador Ger Cunningham said; “It’s becoming more and more difficult to single out one individual as Bord Gáis Energy Player of the Year given the standard of performances we’re seeing. The three nominees for the ‘A’ award all deserved serious consideration and it was a very tough choice.

“However, as a judging panel, we felt that Stephen’s consistent performances, embellished by some absolutely breath-taking moments of skill, meant he just pipped his fellow Waterford men to the post.

“Gavin was Meath’s star performer in the ‘B’ final.  He was one of the key reasons that they overcame Mayo and made up for last year’s final defeat.  He’s thoroughly deserving of the award.”

The 2016 Bord Gáis Energy Team of the Year was revealed on Newstalk’s Off the Ball show on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.  The winning players received their awards at tonight‘s ceremony in Dublin.

The 2016 Bord Gáis Energy Off the Ball Score of the Year was also revealed tonight.  The winning score was voted for by listeners to the Off the Ball show over the last three weeks.  Stephen Bennett’s goal against Galway in the All-Ireland final off a great ‘no-look’ pass from Patrick Curran took the honour.  Newstalk’s Óisín Langan presented the award.

Speaking ahead of the awards Managing Director at Bord Gáis Energy Dave Kirwan said: “The Bord Gáis Energy Team of the Year Awards have become a very important part of the U-21 hurling calendar.  They allow us, as sponsor, to recognise the individual exploits of these players and the sacrifices they make throughout the season.

“They also allow us celebrate the championship with the players’ families and friends who give a lot to allow the players perform on the pitch.

“Congratulations to all the players who made the Team of the Year.  Congratulations too to our overall Player of the Year winners, Stephen and Gavin.”

The Team of the Year and Player of the Year winners were picked by a panel of judges chaired by Bord Gáis Energy Sports Ambassador Ger Cunningham.  The selection committee also included Galway hurler Joe Canning, Waterford great Ken McGrath and TG4’s Micheál Ó Domhnaill.

The Bord Gáis Energy Off the Ball Score of the Year was decided by a public vote.