22 Apr 2018
At an event in UCD's Astra Hall, with Uachtarán Cumann Lúthchleas Gael, John Horan as guest of honour, UCD GAA held it's first Hall of Fame Awards and Alumni Dinner.
Political editor of the Irish Times, Pat Leahy was MC for the night and as a gradaute of UCD and one who graced the hurling fields in Belifeld durling his College years, was able to relay fond memories of his own.
Before the awards were presented a short video was shown produced by AIG on former UCD Head of GAA, Dublin, St Vincents and indeed UCD legend Dave Billings. The video was shown as an intoduction to the night and to reconfirm and demonstrate UCD GAA as a family and community, show the sense of collegiality within UCD and the love Dave had for his beloved GAA.
The extend and callibre of student athletes was evident on the night as Dublin players Jack McCaffrey (Medicine), Michael Fitzsimons (Medicine), Brian Fenton (Physiotherapy) and Conor Mullally (MSC Food Business Srategy) were also in attendace as well as many former Sigerson, Fitzgibbon, O'Connor and Ashbourne Cup team members.
We were delighted to welcome newly appointed Uachtarán Cumann Lúthchleas Gael, John Horan on the night to present the Hall of Fame awards.
The first award winner was for the Ladies Gaelic Football and went to Meaths Marcella Price.
Ladies Gaelic Football is the most recent addition to our national games. The sport joined the UCD GAA family in 1995/1996. Marcella Price starred on those first Ladies football teams here in UCD, leading to her selection in every one of her student years on the Combined Colleges team.
Before coming to UCD she had won an All-Ireland Junior medal and National League Division 2 medal with her native Meath and while here she achieved the ultimate honour, winning both an O’Connor Cup medal and League medal in 2002.
But Marcella’s contribution to UCD GAA went way beyond her brilliance as a player. She served as Chairperson of the Ladies Football Club for 4 years and was the driving force behind the college’s hosting of the O’Connor Cup in 1998. No one has contributed more to Ladies Gaelic Football, now a well-established sport in the college, than Marcella. She is worthy recipient of the inaugural Hall of Fame Award for Ladies Gaelic Football.
The second Hall of Fame Award was for Camogie and there was noone else in UCD who could be more deserving of the award than Rena Buckley.
Rena has been on the steps of the Hogan Stand more often than many GAA supporters have been in the Hogan Stand. She has brought honour and glory to herself and to Cork and it is a source of pride in UCD that she studied for her Physiotherapy Degree here in Belfield and that she not only played for UCD but also took an active part in helping the club in every way possible during her time here. During her time in UCD she won two Ashbourne Cups in 2007 and 2008 and an O’Connor Cup in 2006.
Rena Buckley is the only person to have captained All Ireland winning teams in two codes and the only one ever to win 18 All Ireland medals. With a mere 10 All Star awards, Rena is a credit to Gaelic Games. In UCD she was an inspiration to her colleagues and an unbelievable role model, grounded and modest – one of the true sporting greats to pass through our club. We know that even after having a song written and recorded in her honour “Rena, Rena” will always be the same approachable lady, so respected and appreciated in the UCD GAA Club.
The award for Hurling went to Dr. Stephen Lucey. In an age when being a dual player was becoming more and more difficult, Stephen managed to take the task in his stride while studying medicine in UCD. To win two Munster and All Ireland Under 21 medals with his beloved Limerick was an outstanding achievement but to add a Munster Under 21 Football Championship was truly remarkable.
As a senior player with Limerick he won a National Hurling League medal and was one of those rare players to have been selected on the Munster teams of the year in both Hurling and Football. A national individual honour was his selection on the GPA Hurling team of the year in 2007.
At UCD Stephen is fondly remembered for his outstanding leadership qualities on and off the field. He was one of the driving forces as UCD won 3 Dublin Senior Hurling Championships, a County football Championship and a Fitzgibbon Cup for good measure, making it 5 major wins in 5 years.
No one evoked the spirit of UCD like Stephen Lucey. He was hugely respected and loved by everyone who had the honour of playing with him in those early years of the 21st century.
The final Hall of Fame Award for Men’s Gaelic Football went to Eugene McGee.
Eugene is most famous for leading Offaly to All Ireland glory in 1982 by defeating the “unbeatable” Kerry team, depriving them of their 5-in-row All Irelands, and in doing so becoming the first “outside” manager to win an All-Ireland Football title. In later years he led an Ireland Compromise Rules team to Australia, he was an All Star Selector for some 16 years and the most insightful observer and commentator on Gaelic Football. Very recently he chaired the Football Review Committee, which brought welcome changes to Gaelic Football.
But Eugene’s first steps into management were in UCD where he established a record of success, which is unequalled in Third Level Sport in Ireland. 3 Under 21 and 3 Senior Championships in Dublin were followed by 2 Leinster Club and 2 All Ireland club titles. 7 Sigerson Cup wins provided further evidence of Eugene’s remarkable management abilities.
A fifth award was presented by Tim Healy to Suzanne Baily, Development Manager, for her contribtion to UCD GAA.
The night concluded with an "In Conversation" interview with Pat Leahy and John Horan. John discussed his thoughts on third level GAA, club level, fixture issues, payments and what he hopes to achieve in the beginning of his term. John, as a gradaute of UCD was reluctant however to give anything away about any antics that may have gone on while he was a student, similar to Mary McElese's couch on the N11!