UL President Professor Don Barry with Grainne Murphy (swimmer HPC, European Silver Medalist) and Dr Ronnie Delaney (first Irish Olympic gold medal winner).
Key business leaders in the mid-west region came out in support of the eighth annual UL President's Gala Dinner, which was held in Dromoland Castle on Friday, May 13th. Organised by the University of Limerick Foundation, the theme of the dinner supported Limerick as "European City of Sport 2011" and was centred around the inclusive nature of sport. Proceeds from the evening were in excess of €70,000 with funds to benefit three UL projects: the first aims to bring sport into the Limerick regeneration areas and to encourage both children and adults in these areas to get involved in sports, the second aims to bring a wider community of people onto campus to participate in sport and to encourage them to feel connected to UL and the third is for elite athletes and will specifically benefit the elite swimmers on campus taking part in the High Performance Centre at UL.
Speaking from the event, UL President, Professor Don Barry said: "At UL we have never settled for what we have but have always sought to add to the facilities on campus for the benefit of our students and staff and of the wider community. In September 2011 we will launch our newest sports development on the Clare campus. It will include four state-of-the-art, all-weather, fully floodlit pitches - one for GAA, one for rugby, and two for soccer- and a wonderful new Sports Pavilion. But it's not only our athletes and facilities that have been making an impact in the world of sport. The expertise of our faculty across all disciplines has also been making its contribution - advancing the physical and social wellbeing of Irish children and youth through the creation and dissemination of knowledge on physical education, physical activity, and youth sport. UL is also bringing sport to the disadvantaged areas of Limerick and encouraging children to get involved in sport and to realise their potential in life."
David Cronin, Chief Executive of the UL Foundation added: "The Foundation is delighted to be playing its part to support Limerick's status as "European City of Sport 2011" with this imaginative initiative for the benefit of the whole community."
A number of high-profile sports people and athletes attended the event, including Dr Ronnie Delaney (first Irish Olympic gold medal winner); Grainne Murphy (swimmer HPC, European Silver Medalist); Keith Wood (ex-rugby international); Tony Ward (ex-rugby international) and Emily Hurley (Special Olympian). Neil Campbell, Stephen King and Scott Kinevane from the UL Eagles basketball team were in attendance as well as Eamonn Cregan (Hurling manager/former player); Eddie Keher (Irish hurling manager/former player); Ogie Moran (GAA manager and former Kerry player); Kieran Donaghy (GAA - all Ireland winner with Kerry); Darren O'Sullivan (GAA - All Ireland winner and captain for Kerry); Liam Sheedy (former Tipperary hurler and manager) and Eoin Kelly (Tipperary hurler).
"We are delighted to support these University of Limerick sports projects, which will bring benefits to all aspects of the community by getting them involved in sporting initiatives at the University and in turn will support the next generation of Irish sporting talent. The economic benefits of sport are very significant and sports events in the Shannon Region last year generated in excess of €60 million. Shannon Development is delighted to have played its part in securing the prestigious title of European City of Sport 2011 which will further enhance Limerick's growing international reputation as a leading centre for sports activities," said Dr. Vincent Cunnane, Chief Executive, Shannon Development.
Sponsoring this year's event were Ulster Bank and Noonan Services. Ulster Bank has close links with the University of Limerick following the opening of a branch on campus in September 2005. "We are delighted to continue supporting the University of Limerick and the Foundation through our sponsorships and in particular through the establishment of the Ulster Bank Enablement Fund, which was established following our arrival to UL in 2005. This fund supports the University's clubs and societies, student development, its Alumni activities and other worthy on-campus projects" said Tom Leahy, Regional Director South Ulster Bank Business Banking.
John O'Donoghue, CEO of Noonan said: "Noonan Services has been associated with the University for the past 20 years and we look forward to continuing this relationship with UL as a valued customer".