ULSTER Branch President Laurence Caldwell was in attendance at Hatrick Park last Friday night when Rainey Old Boys held their annual Club Dinner and Awards Presentation.
Guest Speaker was former Lansdowne and Ireland out-half Mick Quinn, with Dylan Davies speaking on behalf of the club. Master of Ceremonies was Graeme Clarke.
The Player of the Year award was won for a remarkable fifth time by durable prop Neil O’Kane. The 34 year old came through the underage ranks in the club to gain inter-pro recognition at Youth and Junior levels and has been the cornerstone of the pack throughout the club’s rise to its current position.
Andrew Harbinson was voted Most Improved Player, while the Young Player award went to Damian McMurray. Playing awards for the other teams were - 2nd XV Kenny Irvine, 3rd XV Caolan Moran, 4th XV James McGoldrick, U19 XV Michael McCusker. Presentations were also made to the outgoing captains.
On the non-playing side, the Robert Glover Memorial Trophy for Clubman of the Year went to Robin Kennedy, while Joyce Henderson was presented with the Janet McFalone Salver for her contribution to the club.
While significant progress has already been made towards putting a strong playing panel in place for next season, one man who will not be available for selection is Rodney Paul who is hanging up the boots.
On joining the Old Boys from school some sixteen years ago, he soon made the out-half spot his own and he has been an automatic selection ever since. The twin Pauls became almost an institution in the Rainey ranks and their qualities were duly recognised by the Ulster Junior selectors.
Rodney later proved his versatility by switching to full-back and then centre, and on occasions showed that he could even do an adequate job at scrum-half.
Having played a leading role in the club’s rise to senior rugby, his loyalty was rewarded with the captaincy for season 2010-2011.