BallinEurope editor Emmet Ryan is voting in this year’s Irish Premier League awards. Here’s who BiE is voting for and why.
Men’s MVP – Michael Bonaparte, Killester
This was absolute murder. Bonaparte had 23 ppg, 4th in the league, ranked 10th in rebounds and 9th in blocks for the league champions. Staring him down directly was Lehmon Colbert, the cup final MVP, 20 ppg, ranked 5th in boards and 8th in blocks for UCC Demons. Then there was the real wild-card, Michael Callaghan of Moycullen who led the league in scoring and rebounds. Callaghan was a nasty call as he had fantastic stats, 26 and 11, on the second-worst team in the league. In the end his team’s finishing position played a big role as while he carried the load for Moycullen he also benefitted by not having the same talent around him in terms of dominating the scorekeeper’s book. In the end it came down to literally one game to give Bonaparte the edge on Colbert, it really was that close, as the Killester man shot 64 per cent and scored 24 points in the match-up between the two that decided the league.
Men’s Young Player of the Year – Roy Downey, Bord Gais Neptune
This was a crowded field and Downey arguably stood out the least on initial inspection. He was overshadowed by some of his elders on the Neptune squad but still managed to contribute in multiple ways. Downey had 11 ppg and 3 apg for the season. They were hardly earth-shattering stats but it’s not a young man’s league and he did enough to be the best.
Men’s Coach of the Year – Jonathan Grenell, Killester
You take a middling side from 2012/13 and turn them into league champions in the most dramatic style possible? That really helps when it comes to style points. Still, Colin O’Reilly from Demons had a lot going for him as a candidate here. His side finished second in the league, beat Killester in the semis en route to winning the cup, and beat them again to win the Champions Trophy. The run of Killester to claw back Demons in the league is what eventually made me go with Grenell. Another tough call, I won’t be upset if I’m wrong.
Women’s MVP – Emilee Harmon, Team Montenotte Hotel Glanmire
This made the men’s call look easy, despite essentially being a two-horse race. Harmon, a former Ohio State Buckeye, averaged 15.8 points per game, led the league in rebounds, and was third in blocks. Her strongest competition came from Aoife McDermott of the league champions, UL Huskies. McDermott scored 16 ppg, was 10th in rebounds, and led the league in free throw attempts. Even on head-to-heads the duo came out largely even but I’m going with Harmon based on her overall impact for Glanmire. The Cork club lacked inside presence a year ago and came up short in all competitions. She made the difference and TMH picked up two of the three titles on offer as a result.
Women’s Young Player of the Year – Aoife McDermott, UL Huskies
This, quite frankly, is a rout. McDermott should in all honesty walk this category. No young player, especially at centre, came close to her this season. Across all the major categories save for assists, she was queen amongst young players. McDermott by a mile, there’s no more to say.
Women’s Coach of the Year – Paul Kelleher, Team Montenotte Hotel Glanmire
This was a tough, tough, call not least because of the sentimental factor. James Weldon, coach of the league champion Huskies, is retiring. BiE however must rise above that and look at the stats…which put Weldon in a near dead-heat with Kelleher. Okay, this is tough but, like Harmon, it’s the step up in 2013/14 that does it for Kelleher. His team adapted and he deserves tremendous credit for that. Weldon literally couldn’t go higher than the previous year when his charges took all honours. He’s been a tremendous coach, an all-timer in the women’s game in basketball, but I have to go with Kelleher.