Shay Given, announced as Donegal person of the year 2017.
Shay Given has been named as the 2017 Donegal Person of the Year by the Donegal Association in Dublin.
The announcement was made a short time ago in The Black Door Piano Bar on Harcourt Street where Shay and family members are attending.
He succeeds the 2016 Person of the Year Stephen McCahill whose term ends on March 3rd when Shay takes over. He is the 39th recipient of the award.
Shay follows in a distinguished line of previous recipients, among them another wonderful Donegal goalkeeper who played at the highest level for Ireland, Packie Bonner.
Growing up Shay never had things easy but with the self determination, a character of many Donegal people, he overcame many challenges in life.
At Friday night's announcement in Dublin are Hugh Harkin, Shay Given, Rebecca Gibson, Stephen McCahill, Elaine Caffery and Matt Britton.
His mother Agnes fought a courageous battle against cancer at the young age of 41 when Shay himself was only five. It was a tough Christmas for the six Given children who, as Shay said in his book, “Any Given Saturday” will remember little apart from wading through the mounds of wrapping paper on the hospital floor in Manorhamilton.
Shay’s father Seamus was a great goalkeeper in his own right and was much in demand by many clubs at home and beyond but being a senior agricultural inspector he opted for a less pressurised role in the GAA where he played for the county.
Shay shared this love of Donegal GAA and goalkeeping with his late friend Pat Shovelin who passed away in October of last year. Shay shared a lovely tribute to his best friend on social media describing the heartbreak of his passing.
He started off his soccer career with Lifford Celtic. He was written off as too small for a goalkeeper, yet this proud Donegal man spent his entire career proving his critics wrong. From his first desperately homesick days at Celtic – after turning down Manchester United aged just 16 – to the modern day, Given is a goalkeeper who has never stopped trying to better himself both as a footballer and as a man.
The Democrat's Matt Britton congratulates Shay on his award in Dublin on Friday night.
Shay is no stranger to charity work either having raised in excess of £1million for cancer charities which are close to his heart after his mother’s death. This just reflects some of Shay’s charity work which conveys his willingness and support to charitable organisations.
"Top of his profession"
Speaking tonight the President of the Donegal Association, Hugh Harkin stated that “Shay Given has been at the top of his profession and has attributed much of his success to his upbringing in Donegal. Shay has shown great determination, courage and honesty all through his successful career. He has also been extremely generous in sharing the fruits of his success, especially to cancer related charities which are very close to Shay's heart.
“In fact, I believe that Shay is a personality who epitomises the best in Donegal. We are very proud to have Shay Given as Donegal Person of the Year 2017 and are delighted that he is being added to the list of 39 illustrious members of Donegal Persons of the Year.”
Chairperson of the Donegal Association Elaine Caffrey highlighted that “once again when reviewing the nominations for Donegal Person of the Year we were completely overawed by the quantity of nominations and calibre of people all putting their shoulder to the wheel to promote their native county.
“Throughout his long and illustrious career Shay has never forgotten his roots, his hometown and his county. He is quick to say that every time he donned a shirt as a professional footballer for Club or Country, he just wanted to make the people of Donegal and Ireland proud and he still takes every opportunity to promote Donegal in glowing terms.
“On behalf of the Donegal Association I would like to extend a sincere thanks to our 2016 Person of the Year Stephen McCahill who has done phenomenal work during his term as Person of the Year in assisting the people of Donegal where possible and in promoting everything Donegal has to offer. We all wish him the very best for the future."
Shay Given will be inaugurated as The Donegal Person of the Year 2017 at the Donegal Person of the Year Gala Ball on Saturday, 3rd of March in The Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin 4. This promises to be a very special night. Tickets are limited so please contact 087 255 4966 or 087 641 9419 to reserve your tickets or contact any committee member.