It’s always a great honour to be recognised by one’s own sporting organisation as so it was on 15th March when the GAA held a special Croke Park Banquet to honour this year’s 15 winners of the Gradaim an Uachtaráin President’s Awards.
The annual winners were honoured as long standing GAA volunteers who have served the Association with distinction in their chosen field over a prolonged period
The recipients who had been chosen by GAA President, Liam O’Neill, come from across all strands of the Association and represent all codes and disciplines from the wider GAA family.
The GAA President paid tribute to those honoured in this year’s scheme.
He said : “Tonight is a night for our volunteers, an evening that is organised annually to shine a light on their activities. These people represent the wider Association as a whole in that they give of their time so generously to ensuring our games are passed from one generation to the next.
I laud them all for their special contributions to the GAA over prolonged period and I would particularly like to mention the Ó Sé family who are the recipients of the Dermot Earley Family Award in light of their incredible input to the GAA and to football in particular.
A special word of thanks also to our sponsors, AIB and TG4 who help us to bring this occasion together”
The Family Acknowledgement Award, known as the Dermot Earley Family Award which is presented in acknowledgement of an outstanding family contribution to the GAA, goes to to the Ó Sé family of An Gaeltacht GAA Club, Kerry.
So who are the recipients of the President’s awards?
Handball – Seán Ryan:
Seán is from the famous Garryhill club in Carlow. Having been an accomplished player and official, his dedication to the cause of handball over the years has played a significant and vital part in the survival of the game.
Third level -Peter Mossey:
Peter’s first involvement in 3rd level GAA came as a staff member during his time at Dundee University in 1993. Since then he has been the driving force behind 3rd level gaelic games in Britain, building up to 40 British Colleges. Hurling, ladies football and camogie have also flourished under Peter’s stewardship.
Rounders – Michael Dowling:
For the last 30 years, Michael has developed and promoted the game of Rounders within his local GAA club, Heath. A pillar of the community and an inspiration behind the sustainment of Rounders, the success of the senior side can be attributed directly to his effort behind the scenes throughout that period.
Ladies Football -Peter Rice:
A native of Laois and now residing in Wexford, Peter has dedicated over 30 years to the promotion and development of ladies football at local, county and national level. Peter has held many posts throughout all sections of the Association, including National President from ’91 to ‘94 and is currently National Treasurer.
Camogie – Sheila O’Donoghue:
Westmeath native, Sheila has been involved in camogie since her formative years back in Drumraney. Having served the club as a player and then Chairperson she then went on to help coach the Waterford IT’s Fresher side to All-Ireland success in 1989. Having also served in various other capacities such as Secretary and President of the CCAO and secretary of the Camogie Association’s Strategic Planning Committee, she is one of the back bones of the game.
Ulster -Ray McSherry:
‘Raymie’ has been the driving force of the Redmond O’Hanlon’s Poyntzpass club through good times and bad for more than half-a-century. He was club secretary until recently and was often called upon as linesman, referee, manager, underage coach, kit man, scór facilitator and grounds man. He ferried generations of young players to countless matches throughout Armagh, served as secretary of the south Armagh board and is now a dedicated steward.
Ulster – Gerry McNally:
Gerry has served on the committee of Glenn GAC since the 1940’s. He has served as a treasurer and chairman for a combined total of 15 years. Gerry has played many key roles in the ventures that funded the purchase and development of both the pitch and the clubrooms. At 86, he is the honorary club President and one of the legends of Glenn GAC.
Munster – Johnny O’Rourke:
A stalwart of Ballyea club, Inagh-Kilnamona, Johnny has been a major driving force behind the development of the club and its facilities for over 40 years. Between coaching and development of players through every level and these days, the maintenance of the club’s pitch and clubrooms, Johnny is all that embodies Clare GAA.
Munster – Seán Heffernan:
Seán Heffernan has been County Board delegate with Adare since 1965. He has been Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Hon. Secretary of Adare GAA Club and has served as manager of many teams from Under 12’s to Senior ranks. He was in charge when the club won Under 12,14, 16 and 21 County Championships. Seán was a Limerick County selector for 12 years at Minor and U21 level and Limerick Masters selector for sevene years winning two All-Irelands. He was involved in the upgrading of Adare GAA field and served as county coach, visiting clubs and schools from 1993 to 1997.
Connacht – Jerry Sheehan:
Jerry , a native of Listry, Co. Kerry, first became a member of Gort GAA club over 40 years ago when he was first posted to the area by An Garda Siochána. Over the intervening years Jerry has served in an official capacity as Secretary, Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Treasurer. He has also served as Club Delegate and Club PRO throughout this period.
Connacht – PJ Hughes:
A Crossmolina man through and through, PJ has been an integral part of the club successes over the last 40 years. Having worked as the club’s PRO every year without fail, he’s also been the club’s unofficial photographer and annually compiles a club list of appearances and scores of every team from U-6 to senior. Without doubt, the epitome of what it is to be a great clubman.
Leinster – Noel Murphy:
A native of Drumcondra and one of the founding members of the Trinity Gaels GAA Club in Dublin. Noel represented Dublin in both minor hurling and junior football in the 50’s and 60’s respectively. He has served his club and Dublin County Board in a variety of roles and held the positions of Head Steward and Event Controller in Parnell Park. Noel was also a voluntary Croke Park steward for many years and held a number of key head steward positions.
Leinster – Michael Mulhare:
Mick has been one of the most influential members of Stradbally GAC since its foundation. After finishing up his playing career, he became club secretary in 1975 before stepping up to Chairman in 1988. Mick had an instrumental role in the changing of the clubs grounds from Cosby Hall in ’93 to Bill Delaney Park and this has been credited with being the main reason for the subsequent three county championship successes for Stradbally in 1997, 1998 and 2005.
Overseas – Mary Gavin:
Originally from Mt. Bellew/Moylough, Co. Galway, Mary Gavin travelled to the Netherlands in 1982 on a short Summer holiday and ended up making a life for herself there for the last 30 years. In that time, she has pioneered new ways in how to promote the GAA brand in new countries and in her club The Hague and is one of the finest international ambassadors of our game abroad.
Family Award – The Ó Sé Family of Ceann Trá, Co Chiarraí
The Ó Sé family of Ceann Trá, Co. Chiarraí have made an incalculable contribution to Gaelic football and by extension the GAA over a prolonged period that stretches across two generations and five decades. The late Páidí Ó Sé is considered to be one of the greatest footballers of all time, winning eight All-Ireland medals, numerous All-Stars and almost every honour the game has to offer. His nephews Fergal, Darragh, Tomás and Marc have represented between them both An Ghaeltacht and Kerry with distinction claiming county, provincial and national honours with the latter two still members of the Kerry senior football team. Páidí’s son Pádraig Óg is a current member of the Kerry U21 panel managed by Darragh.