The GAA is pleased to confirm the recipients for Gradaim an Uachtaráin 2020, which will be presented at a special banquet in Croke Park this evening. Among the recipients is Cork's camogie former player and official Marian McCarthy.
CAMOGIE AWARD: MARIAN MCCARTHY, St Finbarr’s, Cork
Marian McCarthy’s family have a long and distinguished connection with St Finbarr’s and she is adding to that tradition in her current role as President of the camogie section within the club.
Her early exploits were as a player where she tasted a junior championship success with the Barrs in 1981 and then victory at intermediate level the following year to send the club up to senior level for the first time in its history.
When her playing career ended, Marian turned her attention to becoming a vital administrator within the club while also passing on her skill, knowledge and love of the sport onto the next generation of players as a mentor with teams.
Her ability brought her to the attention of the county board, and she was elected chairperson of the Cork board in 2002 and held the post for 14 years. Her key trait in that time was an ability to bring people together to work for a common cause and this unifying presence was a key to laying the foundation for a great period of success.
For many, her greatest achievement is arguably the development of Cork’s Camogie Grounds and clubhouse at Castle Road and bringing this impressive development through to fruition. It stands as a fitting legacy to her and her colleagues and something which camogie shall be indebted to them for over many years to come.
These prestigious annual awards, organised with the support of AIB and broadcast by TG4, affords Uachtarán CLG with an opportunity to acknowledge outstanding commitment and long service across the club and county network.
The 11 awards are a cross-section of people who have shared the common theme of making an inspirational impact on their code and also their club and community.
Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Seán Ó hOráin said: “The GAA exists because of the volunteer effort of inspirational people.
“The impact and infectious enthusiasm of these people is the beating heart of what our great Association has grown to be for more than 130 years.
“These awards present us with an all too rare opportunity to stop and reflect and say thank you to a group of people who have made and who continue to make a life-long contribution to the GAA and who are such magnificent role models.
“There are 11 awards presented here across all codes and all walks of the GAA life. In their own way they are ambassadors and shining examples of the countless other volunteers at home and abroad who give so much of themselves for the betterment of the GAA and who we are proud to be able to call our own.
“Ba mhaith liom tréaslú le gach duine a bheidh ag fáil gradam anocht. Tá na gradaim seo á mbronnadh oraibh mar aitheantas ar an obair mhór atá déanta agaibh i gcur chun cinn gnéithe éagsúla de chuid Chumann Lúthchleas Gael. Comhghairdeas libh go léir agus go maire sibh bhur ngradam.
“I would like to acknowledge AIB and Maol Mhuire Tynan, Head of Public Affairs, for their ongoing support of these awards and of their wider commitment to Gaelic games.
“Míle buíochas also to TG4 for their assistance in helping us to bring these awards to the widest audience possible and for the work they do each year in showcasing Gaelic games.”
The 11 awards are made on a provincial and code basis. As well as Gaeilge, Education and International Awards, the presentation of the annual Dermot Earley Family Award will also be made.
The GAA Presidents’ Awards (Gradaim an Uachtaráin 2020) will be broadcast tonight on TG4 at 7:30pm (Live from the Hogan Suite in Croke Park).
Buaiteoirí Gradaim an Uachtaráin 2020
LEINSTER AWARD: NICK FITZGERALD - Kildalkey GAA, Meath
Originally from the St Molleran’s club in Waterford where he played football and hurling for club and county, Nick also spent more than a decade immersed in the GAA in London prior to returning to Ireland and settling with the Kildalkey Hurling and Camogie Club in Meath where he has made a monumental impact.
On the field he was a player and selector on their three in a row Championship winning team of 2009-2011. During the same period, he was a driving force on a club development committee which over saw new pitches and important upgrades in club facilities to capitalise on their senior success.
The current club chairperson and also a respected referee, his talents came to county recognition and in 2017 he guided Meath to an All-Ireland Minor B Hurling Championship crown – a win made sweeter by the presence of his son, Evan, in its ranks. That same year he was appointed Meath senior manager and in 2019 he assisted the Royals as they were crowned Christy Ring Cup champions – with Evan again a playing member and another son Conor, in the backroom team.
That selflessness and drive have been real hallmarks and his contribution to Meath hurling makes him a worthy recipient.
ULSTER AWARD: JAMES MCELHATTON – Nh Colmcille, An Charraig Mhór, Tír Eoghain
Jimmy McElhatton has been a cornerstone of the Charraig Mhór club in Tyrone for five decades and has served with distinction as a player, referee, coach, administrator and volunteer over that half century.
His involvement with the historic three in a row winning Senior Championship team of 1977-79 remains one of his proudest moments – but by no means is the extent of his contribution to this club.
For 30 years he has been the groundsman at Páirc Colmcille, he has served on numerous committees and also had a career as a respected referee within the county.
His involvement and passion for the GAA has also seen him play an important role at promoting Irish culture and he has travelled far and wide representing the club with distinction through Scór at various levels.
He was elected Club President in 2015 and his willingness to answer the call for the club has endeared him to its members. Together with his wife Rose, he has passed on his love of the GAA to their children and grandchildren who are proudly following his example.
MUNSTER AWARD: BREDA FITZGIBBON, Skeheenarinky Hurling Club, Tipperary
An ever present in her club, Breda Fitzgibbon has given an exceptional life-long contribution to the GAA in her community and with her local hurling club of Skeheenarinky in South Tipperary across a wide range of roles and responsibilities.
An active committee member and officer for more than 30 years, she began following her families fortunes on the hurling field and has been involved in different committees since the late 80s.
A former club secretary for 17 years, it was while serving as a club chairperson between 2013 and 2017 that Skeheenarinky landed one of their most significant victories when they claimed the County Junior A Hurling crown in 2014.
She is the embodiment of volunteerism and her contribution to the club and the wider community has been truly immense. In her own way she has been a pioneer by being the first female club secretary and subsequently first female club chairperson and she has set an example for others to follow. It has been her passion and leadership and commitment that have guided her throughout.
CONNACHT AWARD: JOHN MCANDREW, St Michael’s GAA Club, Sligo
Every GAA club needs a reliable person to ensure that they have the necessary funds to allow them to function – off the field and on. It’s often a thankless job, but vitally important to enable clubs to survive and one such inspirational figure in this field is John McAndrew of St Michael’s in Sligo.
John started out his involvement with his club in the late 70s as a player before proving himself to be invaluable with his fundraising efforts and in helping to organise the weekly card game. When the card game evolved over time into a club lotto, it was again John who proved instrumental in its organisation and success.
To this day the club benefits from the vital support of the locality which is secured through the lotto drive by John, his wife Ann and by Harry and Jacinta Clarke.
It’s not only the club that benefits from his fundraising skills, as he is also the treasurer of the Markievicz Park committee and is a regular volunteer steward on match days.
It is John’s enthusiasm and drive which shines through at all times and being always on hand, sometimes at short notice, to travel the length and breath of Sligo and indeed Connacht to assist at stewarding at GAA matches contributes to him being such a popular figure.
HANDBALL AWARD: PETER DENNEHY, Liscarroll Handball Club, Cork
Peter’s handball career began with Cosset’s Handball Club in the Sugar Factory in Mallow where he worked for many years and is now a member of the Liscarroll Handball Club.
As a player and now as an administrator, Peter has been someone who has always looked to raise standards and is a tireless champion for the sport in his roles as treasurer and PRO of Cork GAA Handball where he leaves no stone unturned in his promotion of the game.
No Sunday evening would be the same without his handball results slot of Cork’s 103FM and his voice will be well known to thousands through his volunteer work as stadium announcer at both Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Páirc Uí Rinn.
Sport survives on heroes and in Cork Handball, there is one such Laochra Gael in Peter Dennehy who has made an immense contribution over so many years and who also has a long association with the Inter Firm Boards.
This is an exciting time for handball with numbers growing and an impressive new national HQ soon to be unveiled at Croke Park in the coming weeks.
The sport can consider itself lucky that the efforts of volunteers like Peter Dennehy have protected its tradition through to these days.
LADIES FOOTBALL AWARD – MAGGIE SKELTON, Achadh Uí Arain, Tír Eoghain
Maggie Skelton has lived and breathed Tyrone Ladies Gaelic Football for more than 15 years. Her passion and drive for the game is evident in everything that she does and has enabled her to carry the heavy workload of county secretary with consummate ease.
That willingness to go above and beyond is truly inspirational and she never seems happier than when she is at training and games and looking at teams of all age levels enjoying their sport.
She has had a huge impact on the county senior team in the last number of years as the team liaison officer and has been a key figure in the planning and organising of match days. It is hugely appreciated by the players that no stone is left unturned in arranging everything the players need to perform to their best.
Her tireless capacity for work means that she is an active delegate at Ulster council as well as being effective in other capacities such as stewarding at matches, assisting with gates and selling programmes – making a positive impression in everything that she does.
Her infectious enthusiasm is a credit to her.
EDUCATION AWARD – Hugh Rudden, Ballyhaunis GAA, Mayo
Hugh originally hails from Bawnboy in West Cavan where he was one of eight children and played for the local Templeport club where they were reared on iconic All-Ireland winning Cavan teams of 1947, ’48 and ’52.
That passion for football and the GAA which was instilled in those early years has stayed with him - and wherever his working life took him, across Ireland or indeed later in London, the GAA was a constant companion.
After serving as secretary and helping to build new facilities in Templeport, it was upon his qualification as a secondary school teacher in 1972 that he was appointed to a post in Ballyhaunis Vocational School. Within days of his arrival, he was helping to train the local school and club teams.
The result of that work can be traced back over decades in the form of numerous players who have played club and county football with distinction.
Indeed, it was a particularly proud moment in 2006 when, as President of Mayo GAA, Hugh watched former part pupil Keith Higgins captain Mayo to the All-Ireland U21 title.
He has made a massive contribution to Post Primary Schools GAA at county, provincial and national level and his depth of knowledge leaves him in demand across a wide range of topics from National Grounds Maintenance to the Connacht Council Hearing’s Committee.
The physical impact of his commitment to Ballyhaunis GAA is evident in the role he played in developing the clubhouse, grounds and facilities over a 10-year period which resulted in the impressive facilities being ready back in 2008.
A tireless volunteer, on his nights off Hugh can be found helping to sell 50/50 envelopes for the weekly club draw.
Remarkably he is the second Ballyhaunis GAA clubman to receive the prestigious Presidents’ Award and follows in the footsteps of previous winner Johnny Bietsy.
INTERNATIONAL AWARD – PAT GORHAM, Orang Éire GAA, Malaysia
The growth of the GAA overseas is one of the great modern-day success stories for the Association and is built on the efforts of people like Pat Gorham.
Originally from Belmullet in Mayo, he was the first chairman of the club back in 2007 and the passion and enthusiasm he brought to the role when the clubs was in its fledgling years has never waned.
In that time he has helped create a club that has been not only a home from home for many members of the Irish Diaspora, but has also succeeded in winning over new friends and admirers and players to Gaelic games from among locals and other non-native Irish.
His vision of a club was more than football – but about family and friendship and he has achieved that goal.
Pat was instrumental in bringing the GAA Football All-Stars to Kuala Lumpur in 2010 and hosting the Asian Gaelic Games from 2012 to 2014 and helped initiate a tie-in with a local Aussie Rules team to ensure there was no shortage of competitive action.
The Asian Gaelic Games now attracts more than 800 players to its staging and Pat has helped to create this exceptional showcase of World GAA in action through his role at Asian County Board level. Through all this, he also makes an important contribution on the field where he still lines out and his safe hands make him a natural goalkeeper.
GRADAIM GAEILGE – CON Ó DÓNAILL, Bun an Phobail, Dún na nGall
Tá Con Ó Dónaill ag croílár na gcluichí Gaelacha i bParóiste Bhun an Phobail ó bhog sé óna cheantar dúchais féin, Dún Lúiche, sa bhliain 1968. Nuair a tháinig sé go Bun an Phobail ní raibh aon chlub ann ach thug sé féin, Brendan Keaveney, Paddy McGroarty agus níos deireanaí, Joe McGeady, fúthu sin a chur ina cheart. Faoin mbliain 1970 bhí foireann peile á cur chun páirce acu i mBun an Phobail.
Rinneadh iarracht i 1976 club a chur ar bun idir mhuintir Bhun an Phobail agus mhuintir Charn Domhnach, ach le Con tofa mar Rúnaí níor mhair an smaoineamh sin i bhfad agus cuireadh CLG Bhun an Phobail ar bun do mhuintir Bhun an Phobail – an chéad uair a raibh club dá gcuid féin ag an bpobal.
Bhí imeachtaí cultúrtha i gcónaí lárnach i bhfís Chon don chlub agus bhí siad ar a laghad chomh tábhachtach céanna leis na himeachtaí spóirt. Bhí Con taobh thiar den fhorbairt a tháinig ar Scór sa chlub agus chuir an club isteach ar chomórtais Scór don chéad uair i 1978 agus gan iad ach bliain amháin ar an bhfód.
Bhí Con ina Rúnaí ar an gclub idir 1976-2005, ina Chathaoirleach idir 2006-2011 agus tá sé ina Oifigeach Gaeilge orthu ó shin i leith.
Ag leibhéal Bhord an Chontae tá na blianta caite aige ag cur chun cinn imeachtaí cultúrtha agus chluichí an Chumainn. Bhí ról an Oifigigh Ghaeilge-Chultúrtha aige i 2006 agus arís eile idir 2012-2015. Le linn an ama sin, d’oibrigh sé go dian díograiseach agus é ag iarraidh an Ghaeilge, an ceol, an damhsa, an drámaíocht agus an amhránaíocht thraidisiúnta a chur chun cinn ar fud an chontae.
Ba é an t-aitheantas is fearr a tugadh ar fhís Chon don chlub ná nuair a d’éirigh leo Bonn Airgid a fháil i scéim Fhondúireacht Sheosaimh Mhic Dhonncha anuraidh. D’oibrigh Con go díograiseach chun an gradam seo a bhaint amach don chlub agus tá bunchloch leagtha síos aige don chéad ghlúin eile sa chlub i gcur chun cinn na Gaeilge.
Tá oidhreacht Chon le feiceáil sa chlub gach maidin Dé Sathairn agus os cionn 100 páiste ag traenáil, tríd an líon mór imreoirí ón gclub atá tar éis imirt leis an gcontae agus tríd na rudaí atá bainte amach ag an gclub ag Scór.
Tá an club buíoch de Eileen, Conor, Caitríona agus de Mharia as é a roinnt leo!
DERMOT EARLEY FAMILY AWARD – The McGovern Family, Burren GAA, Down
The McGovern family from Burren in Co. Down are steeped in the GAA tradition. The twelve siblings (nine boys and three girls) were born to their parents Eileen and Jimmy between 1942 and 1960. Previous to that, Eileen’s brother, John McClorey, became the first Down footballer to play for Ulster in a Railway Cup final in 1941.
The nine boys all represented St. Mary’s, Burren with distinction from underage through to senior level, with five of them going on to represent Down at senior level. Two of the other four brothers also represented Down at different levels.
Daughters Susan, Marie and Bríd were their supporters in chief, fiercely committed to the exploits of club and county and who have seen their own children and grandchildren make a massive contribution to the Burren and Down both on and off the field.
Tommy, a holder of three Railway Cup medals, along with Vincent won Ulster Senior Football Championship medals with Down in 1978 and 1981, with youngest brother Brendan joining them for the 1981 triumph, when Tommy captained the team. Tommy and Brendan also won National Football League medals in 1983.
Brendan won All-Ireland Minor and U-21 medals in 1977 and 1979 respectively, while Tommy (captain) and Vincent played in the 1977 All-Ireland U-21 final.
The oldest male siblings Johnny and Frank played on the first Burren team to win a Down Senior Football title, back in 1966, and Johnny was manager when the club next won it 25 years later. Six of the brothers (including Frank) played in that 1981 Championship with Eddie scoring the winning goal in extra-time of the replayed final.
It was two of the McGovern brothers who captained their beloved Burren to their All-Ireland Club title successes; Tommy in 1986 and Vincent in 1988.
The next generation also made and continue to make their mark at both club and county levels. Six children of the McGovern siblings have represented Down at senior level, most notably Micheal Magill, who won an All-Ireland medal in 1994, Sean Ward who captained Down in the 2003 Ulster Final and Gearard McGovern who won a Railway Cup medal in 2016. Two others have played Minor football for Down, another is Chair of The Young Ireland’s GAA Club in Melbourne and another co-managed the Glasgow Gaels team which reached the British Junior Football final last year.