O’Neill picks up All Star award

Bray People - - Sports -

JONATHAN O’NEILL be­came the first Glenealy man to re­ceive a Christy Ring All Star award, a well-de­served and long over­due recog­ni­tion of the ser­vices he has given to the game of hurl­ing down the years, writes Peter Keogh.

How­ever, few peo­ple re­alise that Jonathan first came to promi­nence as a foot­baller. He won a Le­in­ster Vo­ca­tional Schools medal with Wick­low and also played against Meath in a Le­in­ster Mi­nor foot­ball fi­nal in Croke Park.

At one stage he was in­vited to join the Wick­low Se­nior foot­ball panel but when he was told that if he made the team he would have to give up hurl­ing that was the end of that.

In the Ho­gan Suite in Croke Park to cheer him on as he re­ceived his award from the Pres­i­dent Nickey Bren­nan was his wife San­dra and of­fi­cers of the County Board which in­cluded County Chair­man Andy O’Brien and his wife Ann; Mick Ha­gan, Tom Byrne, Jackie Napier and Peter Keogh.

The Nicky Rackard All Stars were also hon­oured on the night long with two rounders teams, Ladies and Mens.

Great Kilkenny Hurler Ed­die Ke­her re­ceived the Hall of Fame award.

The Ring Cup cham­pi­ons Car­low had three play­ers hon­oured – Mark Bren­nan, John Rogers and Shane Ka­vanagh; beaten fi­nal­ists West­meath had two – Bren­dan Murtagh and Paul Gre­ville.

The other ten were – Jonathan O’Neill, Wick­low; Ai­dan Con­nolly, Mayo; Stephen Henry, Derry; Michael Kelly, Roscom­mon; Niall Hack­ett, Meath; Tony Mur­phy, Kil­dare; Paul Bran­niff, Down; Eu­gene McDon­nell, Ar­magh; Niall Healy, Lon­don and John Grif­fin, Kerry.

One Sligo player to re­ceive a Nicky Rackard Award was Mark Burke. Jackie Napier re­mem­bers his fa­ther Mick Burke winning a Wick­low Se­nior hurl­ing cham­pi­onship with Forestry Col­lege in 1962 and play­ing for Wick­low in a Le­in­ster JHC Fi­nal the same year.

Hall of Fame win­ner Ed­die Ke­her re­called com­ing to Wick­low for a coach­ing ses­sion with Kil­te­gan be­fore they won their first Ju­nior hurl­ing cham­pi­onship in 1973.

Martin Doogue, the man­ager/trainer of that team was the man who brought him up from Kilkenny. Per­haps it was ded­i­ca­tion like that to the game that made Ke­her to hugely re­spected man he is to­day.

Jonathan O'Neill is pre­sented with his Christy Ring award by G.A.A. Pres­i­dent Nickey Bren­nan at the 2008 Christy Ring/Nicky Rackard Cham­pion 15 and Rounders All Star Awards in Croke Park.

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