Dundalk FC capped off a successful 12 months be picking up two of the major honours at the annual SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers Association of Ireland banquet on Friday evening – with Vinny Perth and Gary Rogers honoured for their efforts throughout 2019.
With pre-season training already in full swing and a number of players entering and exiting through the Oriel Park doors over the winter months, the annual event marks the unofficial end of all things last season. The Lilywhites ended the season a penalty shootout short of a clean sweep of major domestic honours so it was fitting their leading men were honoured.
Perth won the coveted Personality of the Year ahead of Shamrock Rovers’ Jack Byrne, with Dundalk right back Sean Gannon voted into third place. Chris Shields, along with Rovers boss Stephen Bradley and Bohs chief Keith Long, was also nominated for the award.
Having stepped up to the Head Coach role after the departure of Stephen Kenny, Perth led his team to another Premier Division success and an EA Sports Cup final over Derry City, before losing the FAI Cup final on penalties in early November.
Speaking at the event at the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road in Dublin, Perth joked while he had attended this event for many a year, it was a unique feeling to win the main award.
“This is a really special award, I’ve been coming here a long time, usually carrying the trophy to the back of Stephen’s (Kenny) car. It’s an awkward one to win, you’re competing against your own players, you see the job Keith Long has done with Bohs and it’s great to see Stephen’s (Bradley) quality to shine through at a big club and win a trophy.
“I’m proud to be part of this league and when I see someone like Jack Byrne get an Ireland call up on merit it just shows the ability there is here. I’m proud of what Jack has done.
“It’s a real honour to get this award but I’m particularly proud of Chris (Shields) and Sean (Gannon) who epitomise what we’re about,” he added.
Rogers claimed the Goalkeeper of the Year award for the third time seeing off competition from Alan Mannus and James Talbot. He last claimed the gong in 2015 and this was his third such success overall. Having kept 27 clean sheets in all competitions last term, the win was richly deserved. In 2019, Rogers also became the record holder for European appearances by a League of Ireland player with 45.
“Its a great way to start off the year. You’ve got to enjoy these moments,” Rogers said. “I’m enjoying these great times at Dundalk. It’s been a really good period for the club and a purple patch with our success. I want to be part of contributing to that in the future.”
Between the Personality of the Year and Goalkeeper of the Year, Dundalk FC have claimed 7 of the last 12 awards handed out since 2015. Perth, Rogers (2), Kenny (3) and Richie Towell have all walked away winners.