A Galway Corinthians club member was among those to be honoured at the Volunteers in Sports Awards in Dublin yesterday.
Derek Niland joined volunteers from across a wide variety of sports at the event hosted by the Federation of Irish Sport.
The Volunteers in Sport Awards were created to recognise the contributions, commitment and dedication of the 450,000 volunteers who give their time to Irish sport each year. This equates to approximately 37.3 million hours of volunteering across Ireland’s 14,000 registered sports clubs and associations.
Members of the public, sports clubs and governing bodies were invited to nominate an individual whose contributions to sport has made a real difference to their community, club or county.
Derek established and coaches a mixed ability rugby team for children in Cloonacauneen, Co Galway. The work of Derek and his fellow mentors has been hailed as life-changing for the children taking part. Inspired by his own autistic son, Derek has now created an environment where children of all abilities can enjoy rugby in a safe and fun space. The initiative has seen such growth that they have had to establish a second team. Derek has created a programme that children are excited to take part in and come from all of the county to attend.
The award recipients were selected by a judging panel consisting of 12 individuals drawn from sports administration, the volunteer community and media, including former Director General of the GAA, Paraic Duffy, The Irish Times sports journalist and activist, Joanne O’Riordan and former Irish rugby international, Trevor Ringland.
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD was in attendance to present the awards.
Niland has represented his club with distinction in 2019. He was also named Volunteer Of The Year at the All-Ireland League Awards at the Aviva Stadium in May.
“I’m accepting this on behalf of load of people,” he said at the AIL Awards. “There’s a team of us that work together. I’m only one part of it.”
You can hear more from Derek in the below video.