All-Ireland winning hurling manager John Kiely was the star attraction at a sporting ceremony of a different kind in University of Limerick today.
The Manager of the All-Ireland winning Limerick Hurling Team was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate by UL President Professor Mey at a ceremony this Tuesday.
During the ceremony, there was a moment’s applause to remember UL alumna, former staff member and honorary doctorate recipient Dr Vicky Phelan, who sadly passed away this week.
It was the first time that UL’s Sports Scholarship Awards were held in conjunction with an Honorary Doctorate Conferring Ceremony and over 100 elite athletes from various sports were in attendance alongside the four-time All-Ireland winning manager.
The new Dr John Kiely was hailed by Professor Mey as “one of the great sporting leaders of our time” as he received the highest honour the University can bestow.
John Kiely said: “It is a great honour for me today to have this honorary doctorate conferred on me by the University of Limerick. To have it bestowed in the University’s 50th year makes it all the more special.
“I have been very fortunate to lead the Limerick senior hurlers during a time of great success over the last six years. I have enjoyed working with a very special group of young men, many of whom have graduated during that time from this University.
“My being honoured today is a recognition of what the group has achieved over the last six years and the deep impact it has had on the people of Limerick far and wide. Our spirits have soared, past wounds healed, and a new generation inspired. Young and old have come together to support and celebrate as they had only imagined.
“I want to thank the University for acknowledging my part in this wonderful group.
“I am deeply honoured and humbled to join a group of people from all walks of life, many of whom I have admired throughout my life. I am very honoured and grateful,” he added.
The Galbally man was watched by a host of his famous charges including Limerick captain Declan Hannon and teammate Cian Lynch, GAA President Larry McCarthy and JP McManus, sponsor of the Limerick hurling team.
107 of UL’s finest athletes from 19 different sports were presented with a scholarship from the UL Sports Scholarship Academy, the aim of which is to support dual-career student athletes to meet the requirements of their degree programme, while also honouring their sporting commitments.
To date, UL has invested almost €1m in the sports scholarship academy.
Professor Mey offered “warm congratulations and wish you the very best of luck as you develop your sporting and academic excellence before you go out into the world to make a difference.
“On this day of sporting achievements, it is only fitting that you join on stage with one of the greatest sporting leaders of our time – multiple All-Ireland hurling manager John Kiely. I am delighted to welcome John and his family here today to join us in celebrating his own phenomenal achievements and those of our 107 sports scholarship recipients,” Professor Mey added.
Neasa O’Donnell, Senior Executive Manager UL Sport, said: “As the University continues to expand, so too will the reach of the Academy as we see more students winning All Ireland titles and achieving podium finishes at European and world events and we look forward to watching our student athletes represent Ireland at the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024.
“In the meantime, heartiest congratulations to each and every athlete who is being presented with a sports scholarship today.”
Among those receiving scholarship awards were Roisin Cahill (kayaking), Ciara Neville (athletics), Mark McDonagh, (horse racing), Kate Flannery, (rugby), Sarah Hickey, (basketball)and Tiernan O'Donnell, (para basketball).
For more information on the UL Sports Scholarships, see here: https://www.ul.ie/sportsscholarships.