ATHLETICS VOLUNTEERS TO BE HONOURED
ATHLETICS VOLUNTEERS FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO BE HONOURED AT 2020 FEDERATION OF IRISH SPORT VOLUNTEERS IN SPORT AWARDS PROUDLY SUPPORTED BY EBS MORTGAGE MASTERS
- Pat Hooper (RIP) will be awarded a Special Recognition Award
JANUARY 11th, 2021: Athletics volunteers from around the country including John Connolly (Leitrim), Denis Shannon (Carlow), Colm Walsh (Westmeath), Graham Hyland (Meath) and David Denieffe (Kilkenny) will receive nationwide recognition for their dedicated work for the sport this week, as they have been awarded the Leitrim, Carlow, Westmeath, Meath and Kilkenny awards respectively at the virtual 2020 Federation of Irish Sport Volunteers in Sport awards, proudly supported by EBS Mortgage Masters.
Pat Hooper (RIP) will also be honoured with a Special Recognition Award at this week’s ceremonies. Pat was a stalwart of athletics and his club Raheny Shamrocks. He was a decorated athlete himself before becoming a dedicated and exceptional coach. He was appreciated, respected and loved by his many, many clubmates, friends and family. His untimely passing last year was felt by the entire athletics community.
Leitrim’s John Connolly, has been a coach at Carrick-On-Shannon Athletics Club for over 30 years, taking charge of the teenage athletes at a key time in their sporting lives. Carrick has a vibrant and successful club, at both local national and international level, and this is down to the coaches at the club, none more so than John. He has created a fun, positive, and encouraging environment for hundreds of athletes over the years and has fostered a lifelong love of the sport in every one. In a town with no dedicated athletics facility, John spends his time scouring the townlands for the most suitable and safe public areas for the club athletes to train to the best of their ability. John volunteers almost every evening of his week and weekends, to ensure that athletes get a chance to train. John is currently club secretary and truly the beating heart of the club, without him there would be no teenage members in the club. Nobody in the region has had a more positive influence on the sporting lives of so many young people.
Carlow’s Denis Shannon, has been involved in athletics in Tinryland AC, a small running club on the outskirts of Carlow town, for many years. During his time as principal of the local school, he gave great encouragement to his students to take part in both in-school and outside-school events. Denis has also been involved in Tinryland Community Games and in the County and National Games as well. He trains the local children for games and at the County event, he could be seen at the start, at the finish line, in the medals tent, or supporting - helping out wherever and whenever he is needed and always encouraging the children and young adults, regardless of their finishing position. Participation is as important to Denis as a gold, silver or bronze.
Westmeath’s Colm Walsh coaches a large group of athletes at Mullingar Harriers, and, is responsible for overseeing their development from all ages from 16 to 60. He also organizes events for the club and the athletes, and recently elevated his coaching qualifications to Level 2. He is committed to his own high standards and continued development and is always improving and supporting the running community at his club. You'll regularly see Colm with his stopwatch, face mask and hi viz jacket, timing or channeling athletes from the sidelines. He is an unassuming but organised volunteer and is thorough in his methods to get a job well done with his team of efficient volunteers in Mullingar.
Meath’s Graham Hyland started up Cilles Athletic club back in 2014 after he realised there was huge demand for the sport from children in the area. He has driven the club forward over the last six years and has coached children of all ages. He has inspired and surrounded himself with like-minded and dedicated volunteers who support his forward thinking, inclusive and hard-working approach. Graham is dedicated to helping youths enjoy their running - whether they want to be competitive or not. His love for athletics is unparalleled, and he has traveled the length and breadth of the country to attend athletics events with the youths of the club and coached them to be the best they can be. Graham is constantly coming up with innovative ideas to improve the club. He has represented Cilles AC at the Meath Athletics Board for many years and has also volunteered on the Meath Board. He is a role model for everyone in the club and through his dedication and hard work, he has put Cilles AC on the map and has given so much to the community around East Meath through the work he has done.
Kilkenny’s David Denieffe has only been involved in athletics for a relatively short time, but he has made a huge impact on the sport both locally and nationally. His home club, Gowran A.C., has seen a rejuvenation over the past five years, with David as one of the members at the forefront of the surge. His skills in governance and policy writing have helped to put structure on Gowran A.C. and his work in the club has helped them to induct new coaches, increase membership across all age groups, and allow the club to act more strategically. David also has a very active role in the Kilkenny Athletics County Board, firstly acting as the Kilkenny Competitions Secretary and more recently, as the County Secretary. David has a passion for helping all clubs in the region and has been involved in Leinster Athletics for several years, starting off as a volunteer on competition days, and eventually moving into the role of Indoor Competition Secretary which he still holds. Most recently, David has created a workshop for Athletics Ireland in which he discusses the key areas that clubs need to focus on to develop. He has delivered this workshop to over 30 clubs so far and has worked closely with clubs after the workshop to help them create their own plans.
The Volunteers in Sport Awards were created to champion the contribution, commitment and dedication of the army of 450,000 volunteers across the country who go above and beyond by giving their time to Irish sport and physical activity each year. These volunteers dedicate some 37.2 million hours of volunteering across the country’s 13,000+ sports clubs and associations every year.
Towards the end of 2020, members of the public, as well as sports clubs and governing bodies were invited to nominate an individual whose contributions to sport has made a real difference to their community, club or county. The nominations and award recipients were selected by a judging panel consisting of 11 individuals drawn from sports administration, the volunteer community and media, including former Director General of the GAA, Paraic Duffy, RTÉ broadcaster, Marie Crowe and CEO of CARA, Niamh Daffy.
Speaking about the awards, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, Mary O’Connor said: “Sport plays a central role in the social fabric of every community in Ireland, yet it would not happen at all without the army of volunteers who dedicate their time and expertise across pitches, courts, tracks, pools and community halls across the country. This year, more than ever before, we have seen just how essential the role of the volunteer is in our local communities and to this end, it will be an honour to be able to recognise so many of these volunteers at this week’s virtual Volunteers in Sport awards. I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to all of this year’s recipients, and also thank EBS for their amazing support in bringing the awards – and wider recognition – of volunteers in sport in Ireland to life. Thanks also to Minister Jack Chambers who will be taking the time out of his schedule to attend our virtual ceremonies this week and helping us to champion and celebrate the recipients.”
Commenting on the awards, Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht, Jack Chambers, TD, said: “It is a real honour for me to help recognise so many fantastic volunteers in our community at this year’s virtual Volunteers in Sport Awards. I have always admired the hard work and dedication that goes on behind the scenes in sport and physical activity throughout the country, and it is a privilege for me be involved this week to help celebrate so many incredible individuals who give their time and dedication to ensuring that sport in Ireland runs smoothly 365 days of the year. Volunteers are often overlooked, but they are truly the backbone of sport in Ireland and these awards are a superb way to recognise and honour their amazing contribution to their communities. My thanks to the Federation of Irish Sport and EBS and everyone who will no doubt make these virtual ceremonies a memorable occasion for all.”
Chief Executive Officer of EBS, Paul Butler, commented: “EBS is thrilled to partner with the Federation of Irish Sport once more this year to honour and champion so many of our everyday heroes around Ireland who are truly the backbone of Irish sport. EBS has been involved in communities in Ireland for over 80 years and we know that our biggest asset is the people who work with our customers throughout local communities in Ireland. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the recipients of the 2020 Volunteers in Sports Awards and thank them for all of the tireless work they do to ensure sport in Ireland continues to flourish.”
The awards will be streamed live each evening from 7pm on the Federation of Irish Sport’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/federationofirishsport/ with the awards schedule listed below:
- Tuesday, January 12th: Leinster and Special Recognition Award
- Wednesday, January 13th: Munster, Connacht and Special Recognition Award
- Thursday, January 14th: Ulster and Outstanding Achievement Award
For more information on the awards, visit http://www.volunteersinsport.ie/