GAA Hall of Fame shock for Liam
Aughrim legend is honoured
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.