UL president Professor Don Barry hailed those who “fly the sporting flag” for the institution as he inducted a number of sport stars into its hall of fame.
Seven ‘inspirational’ stars were added to UL’s Sports Hall of Fame at a ceremony hosted on Saturday in the Arena, which Prof Barry labelled the “beating heart of sport at UL”.
Rugby star Keith Wood, track and field athlete Ruth Algar, rugby player Fiona Coghlan, Clare hurler Brian Lohan, Paralympian Seán McGrath, Olympic athlete Liam O’Brien and camogie and football player, Fiona O’Driscoll, were all inducted, joining a host of others since the initiative began in 2013 as part of the UL40 anniversary celebrations.
Six of the seven inductees are graduates of UL, while Keith Wood was conferred with an honorary Doctor of Science by the University in 2004.
The hall of fame aims to mark the “outstanding sporting achievements of past and present members of the campus community”, Prof Barry explained.
“As Ireland’s sports campus, we have never been short of inspirational people to look up to, to celebrate and to support and the seven people before us today are here because of their outstanding contributions to sport, regionally, nationally and internationally,” he said.
“We have shared in your jubilation and in your heartbreak. But regardless of the final score, the University of Limerick, has always been very, very proud of family members who fly the sporting flag,” he added.
The inaugural inductees included those like rugby’s Tony Ward, who studied at the then National College of Physical Education in the 1970s, hockey player Eimear Cregan and Minister Jimmy Deenihan.
Ex-Munster and Irish rugby star Keith Wood, who lives in Killaloe, began his career with Garryowen, winning All-Ireland League titles in 1992 and 1994, and also played with Munster and Harlequins over a storied career.
He said he was “absolutely delighted to be inducted into the UL sports hall of fame, my face up there with all those great guys who have been through this establishment or who have been associated with it over the years.
“The contribution that UL has made to sport in Ireland is absolutely phenomenal, it has been the foundation, the bedrock for an awful lot of sporting careers,” he said.
“I am honoured to be in the company of Fiona Coghlan from rugby, who has just had such incredible success over the last number of years, and the chance to see Brian Lohan. I hoped at one stage in my life that I might have been able to share a jersey with him, but that never happened, but I can be up on the wall here in the University.”