The nominees for the 2011 Airtricity / Soccer Writers' Association of Ireland flagship awards have been announced today, Monday 19 December.
The prestigious awards, which include the overall accolade of Personality-of-the-Year and the title of Goalkeeper of the Year, will be presented at the Airtricity / SWAI Annual Banquet in Dublin's Conrad Hotel on Friday 13 January.
The six nominees for 2011 Airtricity / Soccer Writer's Association of Ireland Personality-of-the-Year are split evenly between managers and players.
Last year's winner Paul Cook is nominated again along with Shamrock Rovers manager Michael O'Neill who left the club last week after three memorable years in charge. Cork City manager Tommy Dunne is also on the short list.
Derry City striker Eamon Zayed, Shamrock Rovers defender Pat Sullivan and Sligo Rovers star turn Joseph Ndo are also nominated.
Shamrock Rovers manager O'Neill secured another Airtricity League title for the Hoops and masterminded their historic breakthrough in Europe as an Irish domestic league team reached the group stages for the first time.
Paul Cook is recognised for his achievement in helping Sligo retain the FAI Cup, while also steering the Bit O'Red to second place in the Airtricity League Premier Division and securing European football for next season.
Tommy Dunne oversaw Cork City's dramatic First Division success which was sealed on the final day of the season against arch-rivals Shelbourne. The Rebels also reached the EA Sports Cup final but lost 1-0 to Derry City.
Eamon Zayed excelled in front of goal for Derry City and finished the season with 24 goals in all competitions in his first season at the Foyleside club. Last month, he scooped the PFAI's Player of the Year award and will be hoping to make it a lucrative double next month.
Pat Sullivan was recently crowned Shamrock Rovers Players' Player of the Season after a remarkably consistent season in which he played a key role in helping the Hoops retain the league title. And the Dubliner will never forget his stunning goal in Belgrade that cleared the path for Europa League group stage qualification on a historic night in the Serbian capital.
Sligo Rovers star Joseph Ndo is recognised after another stellar season in the Airtricity League, defying his now veteran status. His confident, swaggering displays saw Sligo push Shamrock Rovers all the way in the league and the Bit O'Red also retained the FAI Cup. Unfortunately, injury agonisingly denied the former Cameroon international an appearance in that showpiece game against Shelbourne.
The other main award of the night at the upcoming 2011 Airtricity / Soccer Writers' Association of Ireland banquet is the Goalkeeper of the Year Award which will go to Brendan Clarke, Gerard Doherty or Gary Rogers – all of whom are bidding to win the award for the first time.
Clarke was central to Sligo's league title push that ultimately fell just short but the club still secured European football for next season. The Dubliner also played 119 minutes of their successful FAI Cup final before Ciaran Clark was sprung from the bench for his now traditional penalty shootout heroics.
Doherty has been a mainstay at Derry City and, having stayed loyal to the club during it's difficult days in the First Division wilderness, played a key role in Derry's successful push for Europe last season as they challenged Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers for Premier Division honours.
Rogers enjoyed a memorable season at St Patrick's Athletic in which the Inchicore club battled bravely both domestically and on the European front with exciting Europa League adventures in far flung destinations such as Iceland, Kazahkstan and Ukraine.
SWAI Personality of the Year nominees: Paul Cook (Sligo Rovers), Tommy Dunne (Cork City), Joseph Ndo (Sligo Rovers), Michael O'Neill (Shamrock Rovers), Pat Sullivan (Shamrock Rovers), Eamon Zayed (Derry City).
SWAI Goalkeeper of the Year nominees: Brendan Clarke (Sligo Rovers), Gerard Doherty (Derry City), Gary Rogers (St Patrick's Athletic).