Tony Ward: Plassey's fields of dreams yield 16 for UL Hall of Fame
While all eyes will be on Croke Park, today in Limerick Professor Don Barry will, as the finale to the University of Limerick's 40-year celebrations, bestow Hall of Fame status on 16 inductees from four decades of sport, embracing NCPE and Thomond College culminating in UL in 1989.
The Hall of Fame ceremony is open to the public from 2.30 in the UL Sports Arena as the university continues its mission at the cutting edge of physical education and sports science.
The inductees to the UL Sports Hall Of Fame are:
Sarahjane Belton (rugby)
Brian Mullins (Gaelic football)
Eimear Creegan (hockey)
Sean O'Grady (Paralympic athletics)
Jimmy Deenihan (Gaelic football)
Eddie O'Sullivan (rugby)
Ger Hartman (triathlon)
Ciara Peelo (sailing)
Liam Hennessy (athletics)
Ray Silke (Gaelic football)
Eddie Keher (hurling)
Pat Spillane (Gaelic football)
Sean McMahon (hurling)
Carmel Vekins (kayak & canoe polo)
Sinead Millea (camogie)
Tony Ward (rugby)
Forgive the inclusion of the last named, although let me qualify that by saying when my good self and Dave Mahedy, now director of sport at the university, first arrived in the Plassey Campus together back in the autumn of 1974, we were filled with sporting dreams and mighty aspirations. NCPE/Thomond College/UL more than lived up to the sporting utopia envisaged.
To be at the heart of sport in the sporting capital studying sport represented the stuff of dreams.
Limerick was and is everything it purports to be and more.
At a time when physical education was at its most embryonic stage in this country, to have made PE in Limerick, well, quite frankly meant you had indeed made it – given the galaxy of sporting stars enrolled in the fledgling four-year course back then.
For that reason, I know I speak for the other 15 when I say today's honour is particularly special. Whatever we may have achieved in our individual sporting endeavours, it pales into insignificance when weighed against this recognition now.
The four years spent in Plassey were life-forming. This today is the icing.