Northern Ireland striker Kirsty McGuinness has been named women’s personality of the year in the annual Northern Ireland Football Awards.
McGuinness, who is in Kenny Shiels’ senior women’s squad for tomorrow’s Euro qualifier away to Belarus, has been recognised by the Northern Ireland Football Writers’ Association for her performances with Linfield Ladies during 2019.
The striker was the top scorer in the NIFL Women’s Premiership last year, finding the net an amazing 32 times in 21 games, making her the popular choice for the award ahead of her former Linfield Ladies and international team-mate Ashley Hutton and international colleague Demi Vance.
Kirsty captained the Blues to their fourth successive Premiership title in 2019 and led from the front, finishing the season with a five-goal haul in the league-clinching victory over Derry City, as they won 10-0 on a night when they needed a victory by seven clear goals to come out on top ahead of Sion Swifts Ladies.
“It’s always great to win awards. That’s what football is all about, it’s about winning things,” said Kirsty. “It’s great and I’m delighted with it.”
Last season the talented forward also became the first female player to win the NIFWA women’s player of the month award on two occasions. The award was inaugurated at the start of the 2019 campaign.
During the summer she surprised the league by leaving the Blues to join Sion.
She was recalled to the Northern Ireland set-up by Kenny Shiels this autumn – after last appearing for the girls in green and white in June 2018 – and duly netted in a 6-0 away victory over Faroe Islands in September.
She is joined in the squad this time by sister Caitlin, who also signed for Sion prior to the 2020 season. Between them they have scored 12 in five league matches for the Tyrone side.
“The girls are buzzing about the Belarus game,” said Kirsty, who will be looking for an early birthday present as she turns 26 on Wednesday week.
And she added: “We are preparing well so hopefully come match day it will be good. It’s a massive game and we know that we can’t come back with anything less than three points.
“That’s what we are preparing for, that’s what we are going there to get and hopefully that’s what we will come back with.”