Former Irish and Munster rugby star Tony Ward has described receiving the title of Honorary Limerick man today as the "greatest personal achievement" of his life.
he former European rugby player of the year, who was part of the Munster team that famously defeated the All Blacks in 1978, was presented with the surprise award this afternoon at the Limerick Person of the Year Awards.
Mr Ward who studied and played for Garryowen and Munster rugby clubs as well as Limerick FC, was left stunned and emotional when the inaugural award was presented to him at the annual event in the Clarion Hotel.
"It's the greatest personal achievement of my life," said 'Wardy' as he's known in the Treaty City.
"It's just blown me away," he added.
Mr Ward, who is a respected sports journalist, joked he would have worn a tie had he known about the award.
"If I had a tie, I would have worn it. One thing I was thought growing up was to have respect for the occasion," he said.
He also had a sterling soccer career in Limerick and played against Tottenham and Manchester United in the 1980s.
Fighting back tears, he added: "You have no idea the pride I am going to carry with me as an honorary Limerick man."
WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee was named Limerick Person of the Year for his incredible victory over Russia’s Matt Korobov in Las Vegas last December.
The 30-year-old who was born in London and raised in Castleconnell said he was blown away by the award.
Speaking on video link from Monaco, where he is training for his next fight, Lee said: "I am absolutely delighted to win this award. To be named Limerick Person of the Year really is mind blowing and I would like to congratulate the other nominees and wish them all the best in the future."
"Thank you all for your support and again, this award means a lot to me - I know my mother is there, so she will be enjoying it and I will see you all soon, hopefully back in Limerick after a successful defence of my fight," he added.
Andy's mother Ann punched the air in victory as she accepted the award on her son's behalf.
"Andy was born in London because we had to move there when things were bad for work here. When he was growing up in London he was considered Irish and when we came back to Ireland he was considered English," she joked.
"Andy grew into Limerick and Andy considers himself a Limerick person. If he's in America and they ask him where he comes from, he just says Limerick," she said.