Neenan’s Deserved Unsung Hero Accolade
Gaelic games was given a tremendous boost when Erin go Bragh GAA Club’s Dennis Neenan scooped the coveted and prestigious accolade of ‘BBC Midlands Sports Unsung Hero’ at an awards ceremony in Villa Park, Birmingham on 27 November.
Amongst some of the biggest names in all sports in the UK Midlands – including Olympians, Paralympians and Commonwealth Games medalists one of the top category awards went to Gaelic games after fending off some very tough opposition.
A lifetime of dedication to the promotion of Gaelic Games in Birmingham and particularly the introduction of young people in the game by the 60-year-old Birmingham-based Kildare native was deservedly recognised when the result was announced just before 11.00pm. The recipient, who is also no stranger to receiving similar previous awards, still seemed quite overwhelmed when his name was announced but nevertheless stressed how important the award would be for the sport and his club not to mention himself.
Unmarried Dennis, who has made Birmingham his home since the age of twelve, made no secret of the fact that sport has played an intergral part of his own life. First as a player and now as a successful Gaelic games coach in all four sports, Dennis Neenan epitomises the GAA ethos of volunteerism in the best possible way and at a time when the subject of the possible onset of ‘pay for play’ now appears to be back on the agenda. Also at a time when many young people are prone to so many dangers and unavoidable distractions during their development, discovering sport through facilitators similar to Dennis Neenan also helps to keep many of these young people away from such dangers including the ever present threat of suicide.
“I’m absolutely delighted to receive this award this evening in such a wide range of sporting company. All sports stars begin their careers in community-based clubs and it is very satisfying being in a position to get the best out of aspiring young talent and sometimes seeing the rewards for hard work and dedication,” said Dennis who was accompanied by some Erin Go Bragh GAA Club members including Club President/Founder Member and Roscommon native Joe Dowd.
The evening’s award ceremony was presented jointly by well-known local TV personality Nick Owen and Mary Rose who also introduced a number of other sporting category winners and special guest presenters. Some representatives of Wasps rugby club, who are due to relocate to Coventry’s RICOH Arena before Christmas, were also present in the audience.
Dennis Neenan was presented with his award by Oswestry-based multi-marathon fundraiser Amy Hughes. She shot to fame earlier this year when she ran fifty-three marathons in fifty-three consecutive days. The other nominations in Dennis Neenan’s category included long serving Worcester-based boxing coach and match-maker John Curnock, Kabaddi coach Ashec Das, Athletics coach Bob Sanderson and wheelchair- bound swimming coach Fiona Smith.