The annual celebration celebration for Donegal GAA - the awards night in the Abbey Hotel - was tinged with sadness on Saturday night.
The first ever Gradam Shéamuis Mhic Géidigh, in memory or the RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta Ceannaire and broadcaster left a mark on the night. The award in his memory, presented to the player of the club championship, dominated the night and it was fitting that Michael Murphy of Glenswilly was the first winner.
The award ceremony was excellently presented with the highlight being a short snippet of the commentary on the closing stages of the 2012 All-Ireland final bySéamus, which elicited a standing ovation.
Speaking at the start of proceedings, the chairman, Sean Dunnion, referred to Séamus as a great supporter of Gaelic Games and promoter of the Irish language. “He was an absolute gentleman” and added that it was fitting that he be remembered in this way for many years to come.
“He was a rarity in the GAA, someone who didn’t fall out with anybody,” said Dunnion.
Ceannaire of RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, Edel Ní Churrain, in addressing the crowd in excess of 250, said that the award was tinged with sadness. “We miss his guidances, his advice, his wisdom, his funny stories and his ability to take people with him.”
It was fitting that the Mhic Geidigh family were present on the night - Dolores; Éadaoin, Póilín and Dónal.
The award was presented by Séamus’s wife, Dolores, to Michael Murphy, who himself paid tribute to the presenter. “It is an absolute honour to pick up this award,” said Michael, who said he will always have the memory of seeing Michael outside the dressing room after the replay against Monaghan (just two days before his sudden death).
MC for the night, Charlie Collins, kept the busy schedule moving along at pace with all the usual awards, while at the end the two retiring players Eamon McGee and Colm McFadden were also given a standing ovation as they were brought forward to receive their ‘green jackets’. They are the first of the 2012 All-Ireland winning side to bow out, and it was fitting that they were honoured (just as members of the 1992 side were honoured).
The club awards were won by Gaoth Dobhair (Club Gaeltachta) and Naomh Ultan (non Gaeltachta); and Glenswilly (senior), Burt (Intermediate) and Downings (junior).
The senior footballer of the year was Ryan McHugh (Kilcar); senior hurler Danny Cullen (Setanta) and Lady footballer of the year Ciara Hegarty (Moville).
Referee of the year went to Shaun McLaughlin (Malin); Handballer of the year, Avril McNamee (MacCumhaill’s); services to culture, Ann Marie Sheerin (St. Naul’s); grounds of the year, O’Donnell Park, while Naul McCole was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Among the guests on the night were Bishop Philip Boyce and Ulster Council President, Michael Hasson.