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Limerick athletics figure wins Ger McDonnell Sports Award

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2013-12-16 18:38:18 - A stalwart of Limerick’s athletics scene has been named overall winner of the "Gerard McDonnell Contribution to Sport Award 2013" at a ceremony hosted in Limerick County Hall this evening.

The award scheme, which honours the late County Limerick mountaineer Gerard McDonnell, recognises contributions and achievements in sport by volunteers, participants and administrators throughout County Limerick. The scheme is an initiative of the County Limerick Local Sports Partnership (LSP), in conjunction with the Irish Sports Council.

Noelle Morrissey from Monaleen picked up the top award for her 15 years of service to Emerald AC where she is Head Coach and oversees all coaching activities at the UL Sports Arena based club. Ms. Morrissey also coaches athletics in Castletroy College.

Meanwhile, John O’Connor of the Granagh Ballingarry Camogie Club was named winner of the 'Coach of the Year' award for his 37 years of service to this year’s Senior County Championship winning

club. The 'Administrator of the Year' category was won by Anne Cullinane for her contribution to athletics, both at club level with St Ita's in Abbeyfeale and with the community games movement in Limerick over a 37-year period.

The awards function, which was attended by members of the McDonnell family as well as club representatives from all over Limerick, was hosted by Cllr. John Sheahan, Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council. The awards were presented to the winners by Anthony Foley, former Irish international player and coach and present Munster Forwards Coach.

“Like the late Ger McDonnell, previous winners of this award have shared a number of qualities, including pride of place, a strong volunteering spirit, and a love of and commitment to a particular sport,” explained Cllr. Sheahan, who added: “These traits are very evident in the work and contributions of this year’s award nominees who have contributed valuably to various clubs and organisations in a range of sporting codes.”

According to LSP Coordinator Phelim Macken: “Among the factors that are considered by the Selection Committee is the nominee's length of service to their respective organisation, along with their versatility, impact on the club or group, impact on the sport, personal contribution, overall merit and other qualities. By giving freely of their time to their respective sports, clubs and communities, each of them has in their own way displayed a steadfast commitment to keeping sport alive in their local area, together with promoting volunteerism on a countywide basis."

This year’s overall award winner Noelle Morrissey was nominated for the award by Emerald AC Chairman, Michael Kirwan.

Commenting on Noelle’s contribution to athletics, Mr. Kirwan said: “Noelle has dedicated 15 years of her life to coaching athletes. As well as rearing three teenagers and running a business in Nenagh, she finds the time to coach Emerald AC sprinters and hurdlers. She coaches four times a week and is the driving force behind the club coaching up to 30 athletes. Last month she was awarded National Coach of the Year for her outstanding coaching. One of her athletes, Sarah Lavin, won Silver in the 100m Hurdles event at the European Junior Championships and the 60m Hurdles event at the National Senior Indoor Championships this year.”

“Noelle's impact on the club has been tremendous and it could not survive without her input. As well as coaching Hurdles, Noelle is a firm believer in Relay Races as a team event. I am delighted that her contribution to our club and athletics in Limerick has been officially recognised through this award scheme,” added Mr. Kirwan.

The inaugural Gerard McDonnell Contribution to Sport Award was won in 2009 by Joe Cunningham, a rowing coach at Castleconnell Boat Club. The award was won in 2010 by Noel O'Connor, who has spent the last 30 years promoting the development of Camogie in County Limerick. The 2011 award went to Cappagh GAA Football Club's Breda Stokes, while Noel O'Connor of Newcastle West Camogie Club won the 2012 award.

Gerard McDonnell was entered into the history books when he reached the summit of the world’s second highest mountain in August 2008. The native of Kilcornan was tragically killed while descending the Himalayan peak just hours after achieving his lifetime ambition. The 37-year-old was part of an expedition team comprising seven climbers from Ireland, Holland and Australia. Lying on the Pakistan-China border, K2 is regarded as one of the most all-round difficult mountains in the world with only around 189 climbers having reached the summit. In the years since his tragic death, Ger has been hailed as a hero and awarded the Best of Explorers Web 2008 Award by the mountaineers’ websites, Explorers Web. Limerick County Council held a Civic Reception in his honour in March 2009. In 2013, the tragedy on K2 was the subject of a film called ‘The Summit’.

For further information on the Gerard McDonnell Contribution to Sport Award visit or email


ATTN NEWSDESK: High resolution images are available from Dave Gaynor on 087-9443377.

Phelim Macken
County Limerick Local Sports Partnership
(Tel) 0035387-2079172

Mark Dunphy
Dunphy Public Relations
(Tel) 00353-868534900

Mark Dunphy

Mark Dunphy
Phone: 00353868534900

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