Pat Hooper (RIP) will also be honoured with a Special Recognition Award at this week’s ceremonies. Pat was a stalwart of athletics and his club Raheny Shamrocks. He was a decorated athlete himself before becoming a dedicated and exceptional coach. He was appreciated, respected and loved by his many, many clubmates, friends and family. His untimely passing last year was felt by the entire athletics community.
Carlow’s Denis Shannon, has been involved in athletics in Tinryland AC, a small running club on the outskirts of Carlow town, for many years. During his time as principal of the local school, he gave great encouragement to his students to take part in both in-school and outside-school events. Denis has also been involved in Tinryland Community Games and in the County and National Games as well. He trains the local children for games and at the County event, he could be seen at the start, at the finish line, in the medals tent, or supporting - helping out wherever and whenever he is needed and always encouraging the children and young adults, regardless of their finishing position. Participation is as important to Denis as a gold, silver or bronze.
Westmeath’s Colm Walsh coaches a large group of athletes at Mullingar Harriers, and, is responsible for overseeing their development from all ages from 16 to 60. He also organizes events for the club and the athletes, and recently elevated his coaching qualifications to Level 2. He is committed to his own high standards and continued development and is always improving and supporting the running community at his club. You'll regularly see Colm with his stopwatch, face mask and hi viz jacket, timing or channeling athletes from the sidelines. He is an unassuming but organised volunteer and is thorough in his methods to get a job well done with his team of efficient volunteers in Mullingar.
Meath’s Graham Hyland started up Cilles Athletic club back in 2014 after he realised there was huge demand for the sport from children in the area. He has driven the club forward over the last six years and has coached children of all ages. He has inspired and surrounded himself with like-minded and dedicated volunteers who support his forward thinking, inclusive and hard-working approach. Graham is dedicated to helping youths enjoy their running - whether they want to be competitive or not. His love for athletics is unparalleled, and he has traveled the length and breadth of the country to attend athletics events with the youths of the club and coached them to be the best they can be. Graham is constantly coming up with innovative ideas to improve the club. He has represented Cilles AC at the Meath Athletics Board for many years and has also volunteered on the Meath Board. He is a role model for everyone in the club and through his dedication and hard work, he has put Cilles AC on the map and has given so much to the community around East Meath through the work he has done.
Kilkenny’s David Denieffe has only been involved in athletics for a relatively short time, but he has made a huge impact on the sport both locally and nationally. His home club, Gowran A.C., has seen a rejuvenation over the past five years, with David as one of the members at the forefront of the surge. His skills in governance and policy writing have helped to put structure on Gowran A.C. and his work in the club has helped them to induct new coaches, increase membership across all age groups, and allow the club to act more strategically. David also has a very active role in the Kilkenny Athletics County Board, firstly acting as the Kilkenny Competitions Secretary and more recently, as the County Secretary. David has a passion for helping all clubs in the region and has been involved in Leinster Athletics for several years, starting off as a volunteer on competition days, and eventually moving into the role of Indoor Competition Secretary which he still holds. Most recently, David has created a workshop for Athletics Ireland in which he discusses the key areas that clubs need to focus on to develop. He has delivered this workshop to over 30 clubs so far and has worked closely with clubs after the workshop to help them create their own plans.