GAA Hall of Fame shock for Liam

Aughrim le­gend is hon­oured

Bray People - - SPORT - BREN­DAN LAWRENCE Sports Ed­i­tor

AS JIMMY DUNNE spoke elo­quently on the sub­ject of the Hall of Fame win­ner from the podium at the Wicklow GAA Awards night in the Ark­low Bay Ho­tel it slowly be­gan to dawn on Aughrim's Liam O'Lough­lin that the in­di­vid­ual was be­gin­ning to sound a lit­tle fa­mil­iar.

“Ev­ery Sport has its in­spir­ing lead­ers and ev­ery or­gan­i­sa­tion has its in­spi­ra­tion lead­ers,” be­gan Jimmy. “Peo­ple who can tran­scend from the play­ing field to the board room with ease and per­form equally well in both are­nas.

“This evening's re­cip­i­ent of the Hall of Fame award is one such per­son. He was an ex­cep­tional dual player in both hurl­ing and foot­ball. It was to see him scale to the sum­mit on the play­ing fields and in man­age­ment he reached the high­est of­fice in the county.

“For over a decade he rep­re­sented Wicklow in both hurl­ing and foot­ball. He first rep­re­sented the county in Mi­nor foot­ball in 1966, his last game for the Blue and Gold was nearly a decade later.

“In those in­ter­ven­ing years his play­ing ca­reer was to see him scale great heights, win­ning three All-Ire­land medals along with a Di­vi­sion 2 Na­tional foot­ball League and two county cham­pi­onship ti­tles,” he added.

Noth­ing con­crete yet for Liam to go on as he sat with his wife Alice among the 400-strong crowd. Per­haps he was think­ing that it was a team mate of his but as Jimmy Dunne con­tin­ued, the ev­i­dence be­gan to add up.

“In 1967 he was a mem­ber of the team panel that de­feated Lon­don to win Wicklow its first ever All-Ire­land Ju­nior hurl­ing ti­tle. The same year he was a key player when Wicklow played Roscom­mon in the All-Ire­land spe­cial U-21 hurl­ing fi­nal.

“In 1971 he was full back on the team that brought home the Garden County's sec­ond All-Ire­land hurl­ing cham­pi­onship; a game that will long live in the his­tory of Wicklow GAA.

“On the foot­ball field he was equally tal­ented. In 1972 he was se­lected as the cen­tre field player of the year on the Wicklow All-Star se­lec­tion and in 1973 he was to play a sig­nif­i­cant role in Wicklow win­ning Di­vi­sion 2 of the Na­tional Foot­ball League and pro­mo­tion to Di­vi­sion 1.

“With his club he won cham­pi­onship hon­ours in 1968. He was again on his club cham­pi­onship win­ning team of 1976 when they de­feated Avoca in the fi­nal. The same year he was also elected chair­man of his club.

“Prior to his county and club involvement he was a mem­ber of his col­lege's team that cap­tured the All-Ire­land Se­nior hurl­ing cham­pi­onship of 1967.

“Par­tic­i­pa­tion in Scor he has won many county awards and has been a de­vout fol­lower of the com­pe­ti­tion since its in­cep­tion and has been both chair­man and sec­re­tary of the county Scor com­mit­tee over the years.

“In the board room he was equally adept. Hold­ing many of­fi­cer po­si­tions in­clud­ing vice chair­man and cul­mi­nat­ing in his elec­tion as Chair­man of the County Board in 1986.

“In the rich his­tory of the Wicklow Gaelic Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion sel­dom has one per­son ever made such a com­mit­ment both on and off the field.

“We are de­lighted to wel­come his wife Alice and fam­ily along with his brother and sis­ters and their part­ners here this evening to join with us in hon­our­ing a man who has given and con­tin­ues to give great ser­vice to the Cu­mann Luthch­leas Gael Chill Mhantain.

“Will you rise and salute this great Wicklow man as Liam O'Lough­lin from Aughrim en­ters the Wicklow GAA Hall of Fame,” con­cluded Jimmy.

“I had not got a clue,” was Liam's re­ac­tion shortly af­ter the event. “It was a big shock to the sys­tem. The funny thing was we had a fam­ily wed­ding the day be­fore and all the fam­ily headed off and I thought they were gone home but it turns out they were hid­ing out. I have to say as well that I'm mar­ried to a woman who knows how to keep a se­cret,” he added.

On a se­ri­ous note Liam ad­mit­ted that he was very con­scious of the great peo­ple who had re­ceived this hon­our be­fore him and that he was very ap­pre­cia­tive at hav­ing been se­lected.

“It's a lovely ges­ture, it really is. I want to thank ev­ery­one, es­pe­cially my wife Alice and my chil­dren, Shane, Or­laith, An­nie and Ailise and my brother and sis­ters. I want to thank the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee for do­ing an ex­cel­lent job and to Brian Bren­nan and his staff at the Ark­low Bay Ho­tel I have to show my ap­pre­ci­a­tion at how my fam­ily were treated.

“My fam­ily came from Leitrim, Roscom­mon and Cork and they were hugely im­pressed by the Ark­low Bay Ho­tel,” he added.

Liam O'Lough­lin (left) from Aughrim re­ceiv­ing his Hall of Fame award from Pres­i­dent of the GAA, Liam O’Neill and Chair­man of Wicklow GAA, Martin Cole­man at the Wicklow GAA awards in the Ark­low Bay Ho­tel.

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