05 Nov 2020
Kevin Heavern (Danske Bank), Caragh Hamilton (Glentoran Women), Kirk Millar (Linfield) and Ruth Gorman (NIFWA)

NI Football Writers’ Association announce first ever Danske Bank Premiership Players of the Month

THE Northern Ireland Football Writers’ Association (NIFWA) and Danske Bank are pleased to unveil Linfield winger Kirk Millar and Glentoran Women midfield star Caragh Hamilton as the first Player of the Month winners under a new partnership agreement.

The NIFWA Danske Bank Premiership Player of the Month and NIFWA Danske Bank Women’s Premiership Player of the Month will recognise the top male and female performers as part of a partnership agreement that covers the 2020-21 Danske Bank Premiership season and both the 2020 and 2021 Danske Bank Women’s Premiership seasons.

The NIFWA monthly awards are unique in Northern Ireland football and are long established, with the first being presented back in 1973. The growing strength of the women’s game saw the association inaugurate a Women’s Player of the Month at the start of the 2019 season, after earlier introducing a Women’s Personality of the Year award.

NIFWA chairman Stuart McKinley said: “As an association we are very pleased to have secured this partnership with Danske Bank.

“Danske Bank has become a name that is synonymous with football in Northern Ireland over a number of years now through its sponsorship of the Men’s and Women’s Premiership.

“To have Danske Bank attached to our Player of the Month awards for both leagues is a natural fit given their long-term support of the domestic game in Northern Ireland, which our members cover extensively for their various media outlets.

“It is also a great way to start the 2020-21 season after the unfortunate curtailment of the 2019-20 and for us to move forward after our recent annual awards marked the 50th anniversary of them first being presented.

“The prestige and kudos of these awards remains as strong as ever and there is no better display of that than when some of the most high-profile figures in Northern Ireland football are able to immediate tell you how many monthly awards they have won.”

Linfield's Kirk Millar - Danske Bank Player of the Month for October 2020

Kevin Heavern, Head of Marketing at Danske Bank added: “We’ve been proud sponsors of the Danske Bank Premiership for the past nine years, and we know the hugely positive impact that football has in communities across Northern Ireland. We’re always looking for new ways to recognise the outstanding skill, dedication and drive from players across both the Men and Women’s leagues, so working with the NI Football Writers’ Association on their Player of the Month awards is a natural fit for us.

“We’re looking forward to the seasons ahead, and are delighted to support the NI Football League, its clubs and players during this challenging time.”

Linfield ace Millar was the popular choice of the NIFWA awards committee after capping a hugely impressive month with a superb goal in Linfield’s victory over Ballymena United as the Blues started the Danske Bank Premiership season with victories in each of their first three games.

“It’s great to get this award – my first Player of the Month award as a Linfield player,” said Millar.

“We have had a great start to the season and while it is nice to get personal recognition, ultimately it means that I am contributing to the team.”

Caragh’s award is a reflection of outstanding early-season form for Glentoran Woman, which saw her scored three times in five games during August and September to put the team at the top of the Danske Bank Women’s Premiership. That form also won her a recall to the Northern Ireland international team.

What made the 24-year-old’s performances even more impressive was that she had only just returned after taking some time out of the game. Her season, however, has now been ended by a serious knee ligament injury.

"I'm delighted to win this award as I was away from the game for a while,” said Caragh.

"I surprised myself, as I thought I would be a bit ‘rusty’. I got a few pre-season games under my belt to blow the cobwebs away, the team played well and gelled well, and I scored a few goals, which was a great boost.

"Obviously I've picked up an injury, which is hard to take but, I'm pleased I was able to make an impact this season.”

Glentoran's Caragh Hamilton - Danske Bank Women's Player of the Month for August/September 2020