The GAA is pleased to confirm the recipients for Gradaim an Uachtaráin 2017 which will be presented at a special banquet in Croke Park this evening (LIVE on TG4 from 7.30pm).
The awards, organised with the support of Club Championship sponsors AIB and broadcast by TG4, are staged annually by the GAA and provide the GAA President with an opportunity to acknowledge outstanding commitment and long service across the club, and county network from people whose highly valued contribution may not be recognised on the national stage.
The awards are made on a provincial and code basis. As well as Gaeilge, Education and International Awards, the presentation of the annual Dermot Earley Family Award will also be made.
Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Aogán Ó Fearghail, who will present the awards at tonight's event, said: "We organise this event every year to highlight some of the individuals across the wider GAA family who make a colossal contribution to the health and wellbeing of the games.
"Many of those being honoured this evening will not be well known outside their clubs and communities - if at all. However, you can be sure that they are highly valued at home for everything they do and people like them exist and work tirelessly in every club, both around Ireland and around the world. This is our way of acknowledging and thanking them for all they do to promote and bolster our games week-in, week-out, year-in, year-out.
"I would like to acknowledge AIB and Denis O'Callaghan, Head of Branch Banking AIB, for their ongoing support of these awards.
"Míle buíochas also to TG4 and to Alan Esslemont, Ard Stiúrthóir for their assistance in helping us to bring these awards to the widest audience possible."
MUNSTER- Bill Harte, Carbery Rangers GAA, Cork
Bill Harte has been involved with Carbery Rangers since his playing days stretching back to the 1950s. In the period since he has occupied virtually every role on offer as well as serving on the General Purposes Committee of the West Cork Board. His retirement as a player saw him pursue a refereeing and coaching career with no little success. He helped drive the publication of the History of Carbery Rangers and has also been instrumental in the enhancement of facilities and as well as showing a keen interest in Scór.
CONNACHT- Paddy Beirne, Tremane Hurling Club, Co Roscommon
The epitome of safe hands, goalkeeper Paddy Beirne has been a life-long hero to the people of Tremane Hurling Club. Involved since the Club's inception in 1945, he was a prominent figure on teams that won three Senior Championships, two Junior Championships as well as three football titles. He played on the first Tremane team to win a county crown in 1956 through to being part of the 1976 management team that steered them to being the first Roscommon club to win the Connacht title. Quick thinking and reactions were his hallmark and this same decisiveness was put to great use serving every possible role in the club up to the position of President he now holds.
ULSTER - Jim McKeever, Ballymaguigan St Trea's, Co Derry
Jim McKeever excelled at every level of the GAA as a renowned footballer playing colleges, club, county and provincial football. He collected county medals and was captain of the Derry team of 1958 that lost the All-Ireland final of 1958. In addition to a long and successful career as an administrator, he developed a strong interest in coaching to complement his role as a prominent educator. He served as Head of Physical Education at St Mary's Training College for 40 years and is synonymous with the GAA in Derry in particular.
LEINSTER - Ann Gannon, Summerhill, Co Meath
Anne Gannon has given a life time of service to the Summerhill club, a club her whole family is immersed in. A fantastic ambassador for the club, she fulfils a multitude of roles to this day. Club person of the year in 2016, she has been a stalwart in club administration who has been highly active in the area of fundraising. A keen attender of games, she projects a positive and welcoming image for the club and is extremely popular with members right across the club.
CAMOGIE - Eithne Allen, Sarsfields Camogie Club, Co Cork
Eithne Allen hails from a family steeped in the GAA and she has passed this love of the games onto her own family. She won club and college honours as a player and entered administration in her late teens. She has been a pioneering figuring in coaching and games development, and as current club secretary she is a key figure in the organisation and promotion of camogie in the Sarsfields club and further afield. The club has enjoyed particular success in recent years as one of the country's largest camogie clubs and it continues to go from strength to strength.
HANDBALL - Matt Purcell, Ballymore Eustace GAA Handball Club, Co Kildare
Matt Purcell will forever be associated with Ballymore Eustace Handball Club and he enjoyed a fabulously successful playing career from 1958 to 1984. In 1984 Matt teamed up with the legendary Pat Kirby to win the World Masters 40 x 20 title in Croke Park. This World title was the last major win of a wonderful handball career for Matt. Since then he served in various administrative roles at club and county level for decades, keeping Ballymore Eustace and Kildare at the forefront of the sport through his relentless drive to keep handball alive and well in all of its codes. He is also a renowned handball historian.
LADIES FOOTBALL- John Sheridan, Kilmacud Crokes GAA Club, Co Dublin
Cavan native John Sheridan has been a loyal member of the Kilmacud Crokes Club in Dublin since 1972. But it is in the realm of Ladies Football in particular that he has won special recognition. Thanks to John, Kilmacud Crokes started their first ever Ladies football team back in 1996. From those tentative first steps and with John's constant support, guidance and encouragement, 30 years later Kilmacud have grown from being one Ladies team to now being the biggest Ladies football club in Ireland with 750 active members across 30 teams. His passion and organisational abilities have also helped create the success that is the U14 7-aside event which has grown in prominence since its debut in 2004 and he continues to inspire with his energy and enthusiasm.
ROUNDERS - Ger Proctor, Cuchulainn Rounders Club, Carlow
Ger Proctor has been involved in the game of Rounders for three decades and is a founder member of his local club. His role in the club as a coach/trainer over that period has led to the club achieving many titles at various levels. He also referees at the National Championship and Féile competitions. In addition to overseeing his club duties he is also deeply involved in the development and coaching of the game across the country. He has been chairperson of the GAA Rounders Association for many years and continues to play a pivotal role in the promotion of the game at national level.
INTERNATIONAL AWARD- Margaret Keane
When Margaret Healy left Athboy to make a new life in Coventry in the 1950s she did as so many before and since have done and sought out the local GAA community to help make a
home from home. It was in the Roger Casements GAA club that she not only met her future husband and Mayo hurler Bernie Keane but she started out on an extraordinary career as a volunteer which has seen her become synonymous with the Club through a variety of officer posts ever since. A highly regarded member of the Warwickshire County Board and an ever-friendly face at meetings and matches at Páirc na hÉireann, Margaret has given a lifetime of unselfish service and dedication.
EDUCATION AWARD - Professor Niall Moyna, DCU
Monaghan native Niall Moyna is a Professor and Head of the School of Health and Human Performance and a member of the Centre for Preventive Medicine in DCU. Having studied and worked extensively in the US, he has published more than 150 research papers and has brought this level of expertise to bear on the coaching and promotion of Gaelic games, both within Dublin City University and further afield, with huge success. He has worked at inter-county level with numerous teams and assists the GAA in the preparation and training of match officials.
The DERMOT EARLEY FAMILY AWARD - The McGuigan Family, Ardboe, Co Tyrone
The McGuigan family are synonymous with Gaelic football through their involvement with Ardboe and Tyrone. The combined haul of honours collected by Frank Snr and his sons Frank Jnr, Brian, Tommy and Shay would be the envy of any family. Frank Snr is commonly accepted as one of the greatest natural talents to play football for Tyrone, winning an All-Star award in 1976 and producing one of the most famous individual performances in GAA history with his 11 point haul against Armagh in the Ulster championship in 1984. The sons took their lead from their father and while serving Tyrone with distinction they have remained to the fore with Ardboe throughout a glittering family contribution to the GAA over five decades.
GAEILGE AWARD - Liam Ó Laochdha, Youghal GAA Club, Co Cork
Liam Ó Laochdha, a retired Irish teacher, has devoted his life to the promotion of Gaelic games, Irish language and culture through his involvement in Scór in the town of Youghal, East Cork and beyond. Over the course of more than 50 years he has represented his Club as a player, manager and selector, held all officer positions, was well-known as a renowned referee and was a member of Cork County Board as Oifigeach Gaeilge from 2010 - 2012. A well-known raconteur and balladeer, who hails from a highly active GAA family, he is revered within his club and wider community. Tá áit speisíalta bainte amach aige in a chlub féin agus i saol CLG go ginerálta.