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UCC marks centenary of sport by recognising leading Irish sporting heroes

Leading Irish sportspeople have today (Friday, Sept 7th)  been honoured by University College Cork in a special conferring ceremony, which forms a key part of the university’s centenary of sport, UCC Sport 1911-2011.
In recognition of their distinction in sport, honorary doctorates of Arts were conferred upon Ireland and Munster rugby out half, Ronan O’Gara, former Ireland and Manchester United soccer player, Denis Irwin, Irish hurling legend and Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody, leading horse trainer in Ireland and the UK, Aidan O’Brien and one of the most honoured players in GAA history, Mary O’Connor.
The conferring ceremony was presided over by UCC President Michael Murphy, who addressed over 350 guests at this exceptional event on campus:
“On behalf of UCC, I am delighted to acknowledge the absolute passion, dedication, skill and talent of the graduands today and to confer on them one of the university’s highest honours.  
Sport has been the lifeblood of our university since its foundation, and the centenary celebrations not only acknowledge the legacy of sporting success here, but also aim to honour and inspire the current and future generations of University athletes and sports people.  The awards today recognise the magnificent sporting careers of Ronan O’Gara, Denis Irwin, Brian Cody, Mary O’Connor and Aidan O’Brien, and the inspiration that their sporting passion and success has provided on both a national and international stage.”   
Ireland’s sporting community was well-represented at the conferring ceremony at UCC, with several rugby players and managers, football stars and GAA representatives in attendance.  Sports media people including Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, Tracy Piggott, Donal Lenihan, Finbarr McCarthy and Trevor Welch also participated in the ceremony, and each made dedicated commendations (encomia*) to the sports stars being conferred.    
A number of outstanding events and capital developments have already taken place to mark UCC’s centenary of sport, including the official opening of the newly extended Mardyke Pavilion, an international Olympic conference, the opening of the redeveloped Mardyke Arena and most recently the announcement of Elite Sports Scholarships. 
Pictured at UCC (l-r) Brian Cody, Mary O’Connor, Aiden O’Brien, Ronan O’Gara and Denis Irwin.

For more information, please contact:

Renate Murphy, CAMEO Communications, Tel: 086.8145462      
About UCC Sport 1911-2011
University College Cork initiated its centenary celebrations of sporting heritage in December 2011 with the launch of the book written by the University Historian, Emeritus Professor John A. Murphy, “Where Finbarr Played – A Concise Illustrated History of Sport in University College Cork, 1911-2011”.  
A series of world-class events and capital developments have taken place and continue to run throughout this year to mark UCC Sport 1911-2011, including the official opening of the newly extended Mardyke Pavilion, the international Olympic Conference, the opening of the redeveloped Mardyke Arena, and announcement of elite Sports Scholarships as well as several national and international intervarsities and sporting fixtures.
About the honorary award recipients
Former Ireland and Manchester United soccer player, Denis Irwin, will be honoured by UCC for his outstanding professional soccer career, which saw him capped 56 times for Ireland, and awarded with Premiership Medals (7), UEFA Champions League Medal and FA Cups (3).  
With a Bachelor of Arts and Masters degree in Business Economics from UCC already, Ronan O’Gara will be conferred with an honorary doctorate for his contribution to Irish rugby.  O’Gara is Ireland’s most capped player and has captained Munster, Ireland and the British & Irish Lions.  He is the all-time highest points scorer for both Munster and Ireland.
Mary O’Connor will receive an honorary doctorate for her incredible achievements as both Camogie and Gaelic Football player.  One of the most honoured players in the history of the GAA, she has won 7 All-Ireland Camogie medals and 5 All Ireland Ladies Gaelic Football medals, as well as 3 All Star Awards in Camogie and one in Ladies Gaelic Football.  
Irish hurling legend and Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody, will also be conferred at the honorary ceremony for his enormous contribution to Irish hurling.  Under his management, the Kilkenny hurling team has won 8 All-Ireland titles, 11 Leinster titles and 4 National League titles and have been an unstoppable force in the hurling world.  As the longest serving manager in the game, Cody has transformed hurling coaching and management, and continues to be a driving force in hurling excellence in Ireland.
Aidan O’Brien, who is widely acknowledged as the greatest horse trainer in Ireland and the UK, will also be conferred with an honorary doctorate from UCC.  From Istabraq to Rip van Winkle and Giants Causeway, horses trained by Aidan O’Brien have achieved enormous success at home and abroad, and his commitment to this sport and to Ireland has yielded enormous benefits to the Irish equestrian and equine industry.  

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