Congratulations to Margaret Keenan and Deirdre Fitzgerald who have been recognised by GAA President Larry McCarthy for their outstanding commitment and long service with their Club and County.
Uachtarán CLG Larry McCarthy said: “The success of the GAA has always been down to the people who, through their loyalty, selfless dedication and commitment, have invested so much to ensure that for almost 140 years the Association has gone from strength to strength. Gradaim an Uachtaráin affords us the chance to single out people who are responsible for extraordinary service to Gaelic games. In saluting the deserving recipients tonight, we are mindful that they are ambassadors for the thousands of people who do so much for the betterment of our Association. I warmly congratulate all of our recipients and acknowledge the support of TG4 and AIB in this most worthwhile initiative.”
Ulster Recipient – Margaret Keenan, Gortin St Patrick’s, Co. Tyrone
When Margaret Keenan went to the AGM of Gortin St Patrick’s GFC in 1985, little did she realise that this would be the start of a 37 year term of unbroken voluntary service.
In a small rural club there are many challenges; getting suitable and willing volunteers to take office is amongst the most difficult. In reality, a small number of people will frequently have multiple roles. Margaret is the supreme example of a multitask volunteer. Over the years she has been the guiding hand for virtually every aspect of the club. Never afraid to take the difficult but right decision, she has the respect of club members. Highly respected for her knowledge of the ‘Official Guide’ combined with an ability to diffuse difficult situations, she can manage the most demanding challenges.
Within a year of taking the role of Secretary, Margaret married the Senior team captain Roger Keenan, their family life has revolved around Gortin St Patrick’s. Her organisational and people skills are at the heart of all activities within the club. On every match day, Margaret will be involved from early morning making arrangements. On arrival at the club grounds she will be finalising team sheets, ensuring only players and officials enter the pitch, arranging for somebody to greet the referee, keeping a sharp eye on players and spectators during the match and then after the match helping to provide refreshments in the club kitchen. When everything is cleared at the clubrooms, she will head home to make dinner where every detail of the day’s activities will be dissected and analysed.
The club recently organised a very successful gala to celebrate 50 years since its revival in 1972. Planning started over 12 months prior to the event with a number of sub committees working on a variety of tasks. Central to this was the co-ordinating skills of Margaret. She even managed to take a trip to New Zealand to visit her daughter Molly in the weeks before the gala – but was still in control of communications, proof-reading booklets and coordinating from literally the other side of the world.
Margaret’s voluntary commitment, experience and knowledge have not gone unnoticed. At County level she has served on a number of sub-committees, currently she is Secretary of the County Hearings Committee.
This nomination and award are a very fitting acknowledgment for Margaret’s commitment and long volunteering service. Her husband Roger, daughter Molly and son Ruairí, together with the Gaels of Gortin and Tyrone, are extremely proud of her recognition.
Camogie Recipient – Deirdre Fitzgerald, Doiretreasc Camogie Club, Co Tyrone
Deirdre has been involved in Camogie for a lifetime and has held a number of positions both Officially and Unofficially within Club, County and Provincial Camogie and Football Units. Currently Secretary of Tyrone County Board, Registrar of Doiretreasc GFC and Ulster Camogie Registrar; Deirdre is a wealth of knowledge when asked about anything Camogie or Football. A perfectionist in all that she does, Deirdre will go above and beyond what is expected when she undertakes a given task.
Her love and passion for Camogie doesn’t start and finish with her own Club; she has a genuine heartfelt love for all clubs in her County and beyond and to see them succeed gives her as much pride as seeing her own club succeed. Within Tyrone the development of Underage Camogie is something that has been worked on in recent years and whilst many people can be credited for this drive, Deirdre is one who is consistently in the background, quietly doing much of the hard work without a want or need for recognition from organising fundraisers to washing multiple kits or umpiring at games. Tripping the Country with her camera in toe, capturing the images of a sporting moment for every child is so very important to Deirdre. Her unofficial position as PRO in Tyrone is vital to the County with social media playing such an important role in the development of our sport. Deirdre brings a holistic approach to her work within Camogie and without fail, if she can be of assistance to others, that is what she will be. No task is too big or distance too far; camogie related or not, if you need something done, Deirdre will be the one to do it.By Rory Cox Fri 3rd Feb