Waterford Group at the 2018 Munster GAA Awards. Back row (left to right): Anthony Walsh, Pat Grant, Alan Kissane, Thomas Walsh, Brendan Tobin, Jimmy O’Gorman
Front row (left to right): John O’Leary, Cian Cantwell, Johnny Hennessey (Munster Hall of Fame Football), Patricia Walsh, Gerry Cullinan (Ballygunner Chairman – Club of the Year), Seamus Berry.
At last Saturday’s Munster GAA Awards Gala Function held in the Fota Resort in East Cork, Waterford featured strongly on the list of recipients.
CLUB OF THE YEAR
It was a big night for Ballygunner as chairman Gerry Cullinane accepted the Munster Club of the Year Award in recognition of the clubs’ marvellous Munster title victory over defending champions Na Piarsaigh.
It was a big night also for long serving Ardmore clubman Johnny Hennessy whose contribution to Waterford football down the years was recognised with induction into Munster Football’s Hall of Fame. In being so honoured by Munster Council the Ardmore man follows previous Waterford footballers Jim Wall (Nire), Tom Cunningham(Dungarvan) and the late Monty Guiry(Kill).
HALL OF FAME
Johnny Hennessy was one of the stalwarts on what was good Waterford football team in the seventies when Kerry and Dublin dominated in a great era for football. A Kerry powered Munster team won the Railway Cup in ’75, ’76, ’77 and ’78 with the Ardmore player collecting winners’ medals in three of those years and playing midfield against Ulster in the 1978 final. A proud Ardmore man Johnny was the mainstay of a fine Ardmore side that won the Waterford championship in 1977 and has given a lifetime of service to his club and Waterford football as a selector and mentor.
Hennessy being interviewed by M.C. Marty Morrissey on Saturday was one of the highlights of the evening with some really witty comments and anecdotes as Johnny recalled jut what it meant for a Waterford player in those days to be on the same team as such legends as Pat Spillane, Mikey Sheehy, Paudie O’Shea and Cork players like Billy Morgan and Jimmy Barry-Murphy.
Two Waterford referees were also honoured with Thomas Walsh (Modeligo) receiving his Munster medal for having refereed the Munster Minor Hurling Final between Tipperary and Limerick while Dunhill’s Alan Kissane received his medal for refereeing the Junior Football Final between Kerry and Cork.
HANDBALLER OF THE YEAR
A special honour for Waterford handballer Kavan O’Keeffe of St. Augustine’s Handball Club, who received the Munster Handballer of the Year award, the first Waterford player to be so honoured. In his playing career he won nine Munster and four All Ireland titles. He was the first Waterford player to the U-16 40×20 Munster and All Ireland titles. He has played in the US H.A.Nationals and World Championships in Ireland and in U.S.A.
This year, mentored by Bro. Finbar Spring, Kavan claimed Munster Junior B singles and the Junior B doubles titles with his partner Anthony Fitzgerald and went on to win both All Ireland titles.
The other award winners on the night were: Sean Hayes (Minor Hurling), Paul Walsh (Minor Football), Aoife Murray (Camogie), Aine O’Sullivan (Ladies Football), Donal O’Sullivan (Under 20 Football), Mark Coleman (Under 21 Hurling), Seamus Hayes (Clare Champion, Distinguished Service), Joe McKenna (Limerick – Hall of Fame Hurling), Sean O’Shea (Kerry – Senior Football), Seamus Harnedy (Cork – Senior Hurling) and John Kiely (Limerick – Manager).