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UCD Athletic Union Council Sports Awards 2024

Posted 20 May 2024

UCD Athletic Union Council Sports Awards 2024

At the UCD Athletic Union Council (AUC) Sports Awards ceremony on May 16 in the UCD Student Centre, over 400 students from 28 different sports clubs were honoured for their outstanding achievements on behalf of the University over the last twelve months.

The UCD AUC Sports Awards, an annual event that recognises excellence in student sport, was held at the Astra Hall in the UCD Student Centre. The ceremony was attended by UCD President Professor Orla Feely, who praised the students for their achievements and recognised sport as an integral part of student life. The UCD AUC Sports Awards was a fitting tribute to the hard work and dedication of UCD's athletes, coaches, and administrators.

We must acknowledge the club committees comprised of students, staff and graduates for their enthusiasm, expertise, dedication and commitment to providing the excellent sporting opportunities to over ten and a half thousand club members this year. 

Special mention to Rob Mulee, Gavin Coll, Eoghan Funge, Georoid Riordan, Dermot Edmund and the team from UCD Student Centre for all their work in making the Astra Hall look so spectacular. Our sincere thanks to Darragh Moloney for taking the time out of his busy schedule to MC the event.

Congratulations to all the award winners and you can read more info on each winner at the end of the page.

List of Awards and Award winners.
Two column table. Award type in the left column, and award winner in the right column.
Award Winner
Dr. Tony O'Neill Sportsperson of the Year Eve McMahon (UCD Sailing)
Elite Club of the Year UCD Ladies & Men's Boat Clubs
Elite Team of the Year UCD Men's Boat Senior 8+ Crew
Club Event of the Year Sailing Intervarsities
Club Inclusion Award UCD Trampoline
Graduate of the Year Barry O'Connor (UCD Boat Clubs)
Varsity Club of the Year UCD Canoe
Varsity Team of the Year UCD Karate Intervarsity Squad
Gerry Horkan Club Administrator of the Year Ciara Douglas (UCD Archery)
David O'Connor Memorial Medal Aimee Barry (UCD Equestrian)
Dr. Padraic Conway Memorial Medal Adam McNally (UCD GAA)

Photos courtesy of Sportsfile.

Photo Gallery

More Info on Each Award Winner

The recipient of this year's Dr. Tony O’Neill Sportsperson of the Year Award is Eve McMahon. Eve has represented the University and Ireland with distinction over the past twelve months and more. Eve's hard work, dedication, and passion for the sport have undoubtedly led her to some incredible achievements, which include:

  • Winning the 2023 ICLA U21 Sailing World Championship in her debut year at senior level.
  • Eve delivered three Gold medals at a series of world championship events at the conclusion of her youth career in 2022.
  • Eve has secured qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing regatta for the women's single-handed event.
  • Eve named Sailor of the Year at the Irish Sailing Awards in March, having been named Young Sailor of the Year the previous year.
  • Eve was shortlisted for the 2023 RTÉ Sport Young Sportsperson of the Year award.
  • All of this has been achieved while studying a BComm International degree.

Eve has shown us that with discipline, focus, and a positive attitude, anything is possible. She is an inspiration to many, and her success serves as a reminder that when we set our minds to something, we can achieve greatness. Eve has made their country proud, and we cannot wait to see what she will accomplish next.

In recognition of their equally outstanding achievements, the Ladies and Men's Boat Clubs were named Elite Club of the Year. Some highlights included:

  • The Men’s Club had huge success at the National Rowing Championships. With the four different Men’s teams winning races.
  • The Ladies Club has also had huge success in the last year at both a University and National level and are unbeaten so far this year. The club had wins in the London Metropolitan Regatta, Dublin Metropolitan Regatta, Trinity Regatta, as well as many wins across local regattas such as the Neptune and Commercial Regattas.
  • The Clubs continue to be heavily involved in the ‘Get Going Get Rowing’ programme which gets secondary school students from all backgrounds involved in rowing and to try out the sport.
  • Club members have also been involved in Rowing Ireland's women's rowing initiative at a coaching level, this has resulted in Novice retention drastically improving and an increased number of women in the sport. 
  • The Ladies Club past captain was named the new Student Sport Ireland Vice President, and chairperson of the newly established SSI Student Commission in November last year.

The Men's Boat Club Senior 8+ crew successfully defended the Championship of Ireland for UCD for the 4th year in a row, a feat which had only been achieved by a university once before in the history of Irish rowing, dating back to the 1910s. 

UCD Men’s Boat Club is now regarded and known as the largest and most successful men’s rowing programme in the country and that is largely down to the efforts of the individuals involved in this team. 

They represented the club and university with distinction throughout the year and demonstrated the most important values, representative of all that is important in college sport: Determination, hard work, dedication and teamwork.

Organising a high risk sports event takes a huge amount of patience and time, and it took over 5 months to put everything in place for the Sailing Intervarsities. It proved to be a very successful event both in terms of the event management itself for UCD Sailing but also competitive success, with the club winning the competition.

With 165 races to take place over 3 days, involving 9 Universities and 150 students and many other volunteers, the need for efficiency, organisation and effective communication and planning for this event was apparent. 

Due to the UCD Sailing Club committee’s dedication, hard work and creativity resulting in finding a solution to many issues that arose, this event model has since been emulated by other universities and will act as a framework for future events.

This award recognises clubs that promote a spirit of inclusion in their activities.

Some examples of how UCD Trampoline have ensured a spirit of inclusion are:

  • There was no mandatory attendance at training so members could attend any of the 5 weekly sessions, fitting them into their own schedule. This helped lead to a high retention rate of new members.
  • After every 7am-9am training session the club went for breakfast in the PI restaurant in the Science Hub which helped to integrate new members with old members.
  • The Club recently introduced a disability category to ensure all levels of ability are catered for, while they also run workshops to cater for people who may need extra help. 
  • Organised weekend workshops aimed at international students, students who are on campus at weekends, and students who have moved to UCD not knowing anyone to give them a fun and safe social outlet to make new friends. 
  • The Club subsidised a lot of costs for members this year to make attending away competitions more affordable. They also put payment plans in place for members to lessen the burden of big payments all at once.
  • They are hosting an alumni themed training to help build connections and friendships between their newer and older members.

All of this was all done whilst also providing regular training and competitive opportunities for over 350 students each week.

This award was presented to Barry O'Connor who always selflessly gave to the Boat Clubs as a student and former captain, but as a graduate has given back even more.

Barry is a dedicated volunteer for the Ladies & Men’s Boat Clubs, and his contributions to UCD rowing over many years are immeasurable. He started out his own rowing career in the early 70s, and was part of the 1974 edition of the successful “Animals” era, winning the prestigious Ladies Plate in Henley Royal Regatta while also serving as Captain of the Men’s club. Since graduating his tireless efforts to support both Clubs and their members have not gone unnoticed. Barry's first coaching role came soon after in 1976 when he helped the UCD Men’s Intermediate 8+ to victory over a much fancied Garda crew. 

In more recent years Barry has been synonymous with the UCD Novice rowing programme for men and women. For the last two seasons Barry have spent every Wednesday of the first semester coaching from 9am to 7pm ensuring athletes across both clubs receive the individual attention required to improve their technique.

In January Barry took the three week round trip to transport both the Men's and Ladies fleets to Seville for their annual training camp, while last season, when new boats were required to be picked up in Germany, this individual again took on the unenviable task. On and off the water Barry has proven to be a valuable asset to rowing in the University and an exemplary role model for his lifelong dedication, passion and commitment to the sport.

UCD Canoe has had an extremely busy year running events roughly four days per week, including training sessions, one or two weekly away trips, and frequent social events for its 166 members.

Highlights of the year include:

  • Trips were organised in some form on almost every weekend throughout the last year - resulting in an increase in standards across the board.
  • Club members engaged more - there’s been a 54% increase in weekend trip numbers and a 33% increase in overnight trip attendance.
  • Membership has a roughly equal gender split which is reflected in both the new and old committees being 50% female and 50% male as well.
  • New initiatives this year included introducing social events in the early evening to help bridge the gap between lectures and training sessions which didn’t begin until 9pm. 
  • The club also put a massive emphasis on upskilling this year - 30 club members were awarded level 2 kayak skills awards and 10 awarded level 3 kayak skills awards this year.
  • The club actively engaged and worked with other fellow adventure sports clubs like UCD Windsurfing, UCD Mountaineering and UCD Caving & Potholing, building relationships and hosting inter club social events.
  • A fitting quote from one member sums up UCD Canoe: “My time in UCD Canoe has forever altered the course of my life. I’ve had the huge privilege to discover a new passion, make strong bonds and lifelong memories with many more to come!”

UCD Karate are one of the highest ranked and most accomplished university club in the country in their sport, with gold medals in almost every category.

They won the two main college-level competitions, the All-Ireland Intervarsities and Intercollegiates competition.

In their Intervarsities the club emerged as the top scorer by a significant margin, securing a staggering 18 Gold, 13 Silver, and 2 Bronze medals among their 15 participating members. Their versatility was evident as they excelled in Individual Kata, Kumite, Team Kata, and Team Kumite, showcasing their proficiency in all facets of the martial art.

During their time in UCD, Ciara has gone above and beyond in her roles in the UCD Archery Club. Taking on not one, not two, but three large roles within the club, demonstrating outstanding administrative and management skills in her roles as Head Coach, Events Officer and Public Relations Officer.

Under Ciara's supervision, the club saw a record 290 new member sign ups this year, 100 more than last year. Ciara took the initiative to organise the club’s very first team gym slot in order to aid performance improvement. She organised 15+ events, including 3 inter-university events, 1 inter-club event and 2 events that gave back to the community. She improved overall communication between the club and members.

This award commemorates David O’Connor, a 1994 Veterinary Medicine graduate, who died suddenly after football training within a year of qualifying as a Vet.  

Aimee is a final year Veterinary Medicine student and member of the UCD Equestrian Club.  

Her nominator spoke of how Aimee, hailing from Limerick, has had numerous success at competitions with her mare Cello recently. Aimee won the Showjumping Ireland Autumn Grand Prix, two events at the Cavan’s Horse Show, the Grand Prix in Banteer, the Balmoral, and the jump off challenge at Cavan’s November Winter Festival. 

Juggling her busy sporting life and her studies is no easy feat but Aimee has done it expertly, and is working up to compete at the International Grand Prix level.

The Padraic Conway Medal is presented to commemorate the memory of the Padraic Conway – UCD Vice President for Alumni Relations - who sadly passed away in October 2012. Padraic was a very energetic and dynamic contributor to life at UCD and had a huge passion for sport, particularly for GAA.

This year, the Padraic Conway Memorial Medal goes to an exceptional student in Adam McNally, who has contributed immensely to the UCD GAA Club. 

As the manager of the Fresher B football team, Adam not only provided unwavering support but also brilliantly organised a fundraiser for Pieta House, successfully raising over €2,300. His commitment to inclusivity shone brightly, as he welcomed players of all skill levels, nurturing a strong sense of community and encouraging broader participation in football. Under Adam's inspiring leadership, the team achieved an unbeaten record, a testament to his effective and inclusive approach.

Contact UCD Sport

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