Shannon RFC have honoured Sean Kelly, the immediate Past President of the GAA, for his role in opening up Croke Park to rugby internationals.
The goodwill felt by all of the rugby fraternity towards their GAA counterparts is immeasurable, and as a token of Shannon RFC’s esteem towards the brave move by the GAA it was decided to honour the man who is credited as being the driving force behind the arrangement.
Immediate past President of Cumann Luthchleas Gael, Sean Kelly was awarded an Honorary Vice Presidency and Life Membership of Shannon RFC at a recent function at the Fels Point Hotel in Tralee.
In the presence of such luminaries as former Tainiste Dick Spring, Kerry football legend Ogie Moran, former international manager Brian O’Brien and Heineken Cup-winning captain Anthony Foley, Shannon’s ex offico John Leahy led the delegation from the club and, on behalf of the members of Shannon RFC, made the presentation.
Leahy spoke of Shannon’s and indeed Irish rugby’s long association with Kerry and the quality of rugby players that the Kingdom has produced over the years, none more so than current Shannon senior coach and international rugby legend Mick Galwey.
Of Sean Kelly, and his enormous contribution to Irish society, Leahy said: “Here was a man who understood the new Ireland and the great changes which were taking place…and a man who knew what people wanted and acted accordingly with vision, pragmatism and foresight.”
The gesture was the brainchild of two ex-club presidents, former Mayor of Limerick Thady Coughlan and former Ireland and Lions player Colm Tucker and with the unanimous backing of the Executive Committee of Shannon RFC, Sean Kelly was bestowed with one of the clubs highest honours.
In thanking Shannon RFC, Kelly said that he was accepting the honour on behalf of a great number of people within his association who worked tirelessly towards the arrangement between the main sporting bodies in Ireland.
He went on to express his long standing admiration for the club which has won eight All-Ireland League titles and also acknowledged Shannon’s major contribution to Munster’s and Ireland’s recent success.
He wished Shannon all the best for the season ahead and said he was looking forward to seeing his “new club” in action soon.
Limerick is a city and county where all codes of sport are followed by the same people, and in recognising Sean Kelly’s pivotal role, Shannon RFC are proud to represent those people, and the countless others who will benefit from the GAA’s generous gesture.