GAA Football

Former Irish rugby star Tommy Bowe to be guest speaker at Irish News Ulster Allstars awards

Former Ireland and Ulster winger Tommy Bowe will be the guest speaker at the Irish News Ulster Allstar awards, which take place at the Armagh City Hotel on September 12. Picture by Pacemaker

THE stars will be lining out at the Armagh City Hotel on Thursday, September 12 as part of the 25th Irish News Ulster Allstar awards night.

Joining the line-up as guest speaker will be Monaghan man and former Ireland rugby winger Tommy Bowe, while GAA fanatic Rory’s Stories gets the evening under way with some of his famous sketches.

Joanne Cantwell - host of RTE’s ‘The Sunday Game’ - is back as MC, and will reveal the 15 Irish News Ulster Allstars before the night finishes up with an extra award.

This will see the best player of the past 25 years of the Irish News Ulster Allstars announced – and there will be no shortage of contenders to pick up this prestigious gong.

With the rugby World Cup just around the corner, enlisting the expertise of Tommy Bowe is a major coup as Ireland’s prospects in Japan are sure to be a major talking point.

With an impressive 148 appearances for Ulster and 68 international caps to his name, there are few people better qualified to weigh up where Joe Schmidt’s squad stands just weeks away from their date with destiny.

However, Bowe is also well-acquainted with Gaelic football having started out his sporting career playing underage for Emyvale and Monaghan.

In a 2017 interview with The Irish News, he recalled playing alongside the likes of Dessie Mone, Paul Finlay, Stephen Gollogly and Vinny Corey during his younger days.

That quartet toiled for a decade and more before they finally tasted real success, winning Ulster titles in 2013 and 2015 – and Bowe was present to see the Anglo-Celt lifted in Clones.

“I don’t know whether I would have made it,” he said.

“I probably would have given it a go for a little while but chances were I was going to go abroad at some stage, to study abroad or whatever.

“The way it all worked out, I was very fortunate I got to stay in Belfast and rugby became a career and a reality for me.”

No doubt there will be more reflections on a hugely successful career on September 12, and Irish News marketing manager John Brolly is anticipating another enjoyable night.

He said: “We are delighted to have so many stars joining us for our 25th Irish News Ulster Allstars awards night.

“It is a great line-up and I am looking forward to hearing from the talented Tommy Bowe on his successful sporting career across GAA and rugby.

“And to have Joanne Cantwell of ‘The Sunday Game’ hosting the event after an amazing summer in the hot seat covering the big games will ensure we have a brilliant night.”

Irish News sports editor Thomas Hawkins was in full agreement, adding: ''We're really looking forward another fantastic Irish News Ulster Allstars gala night at the Armagh City Hotel.

''At this year's event we will not only celebrate the achievements of top stars of 2019, but also reflect on the huge depth of GAA talent that Ulster counties have produced down the years.

''We will recall the superb skills of the Ulster Allstar class of 20 years ago and to celebrate our 25th staging of the Allstars event, we will present an extra award as the best player of the past 25 years of the Irish News Ulster All-stars will be announced.

''The achievements of Ulster sides this year in hurling, camogie and ladies football will also be honoured.''

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