Gary Hamilton and Billy Joe Burns secure first awards

Stephen Watson and Billy Joe Burns
BBC Sport NI's Stephen Watson presents Crusaders defender Billy Joe Burns

Gary Hamilton and Billy Joe Burns have received their first player and manager of the month awards respectively from the Northern Ireland Football Writers.

Crusaders defender Burns played a pivotal role in the Crues winning their first title for 18 years.

Glenavon manager Hamilton guided his side to a seven-game winning run at the end of the season, before a 4-0 defeat by Crusaders on the final day.

That run of wins guaranteed Glenavon third place and a Europa League place.

Hamilton is no stranger to picking up the monthly player prize - only current Ballymena manager Glenn Ferguson can match his tally of seven Player of the Month awards, the last of which was in October 2011.

But he has now won his first manager of the month prize after three and a half years in charge.

He took over Glenavon when they were in the middle of a relegation battle and has taken them from finishing positions of 10th to ninth to sixth and this year third and a return to European football.

"The whole day last Saturday was great," said Burns in the wake of his side's Gibson Cup trophy presentation at Seaview on Saturday.

"It was unreal for the club because we had set our sights on the title at the start of the season. Now we've done it, it's great, especially seeing how much it means to the fans and the board."

"For me personally, it has been a great last few weeks as well and I thank the Northern Ireland football writers for selecting me for my first individual award," said Burns.

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