Maeve Kyle to take the place of Ronnie Delany at Donegal Sport Star Awards

Meave Kyle

Due to unforeseen circumstances the Donegal Sports Star Committee wishes to announce that our original special guest Ronnie Delany will not now be able to attend the 40th Awards function in the Mount Errigal Hotel next Friday night.
However, at very short notice and with Ronnie’s assistance Chairperson Neil Martin is delighted to announce that another Irish Olympic legend and also a distinguished international hockey player Maeve Kyle has accepted an invitation to be the Donegal Sports Star Award’s special guest for the historic occasion.

It will be Maeve’s second time to do the honours having also made the presentations at the 11th awards on the 21st of November 1986 in the Milford Inn. Maeve Esther Enid Kyle who was born on the 6th of October 1928 in Kilkenny is Ireland’s first ever female Olympic athlete. In her first games she competed in the 100m and 200m at the Melbourne Olympics where Ronnie Delany won his 1,500m gold medal.

Maeve subsequently took part in both the Rome and Tokyo Olympics where she reached the semi-finals of both the 400m and 800m. She took bronze in the 400m at the 1966 European Indoor Athletics Championships in Dortmund. Kyle briefly attended Kilkenny College where her father C.G. Shankey was headmaster, before attending Alexandra College and finally, Trinity College, Dublin.

In hockey, she gained 58 Irish caps as well as representing three of the four Irish provinces (Leinster, Munster and Ulster) at different stages of her career. She was named on the World All Star teams in 1953 and 1959. She was also a strong competitor in tennis, swimming, sailing and cricket and later acted as a coach to many athletes. Maeve was Chairperson of Coaching Northern Ireland and in 2006 she was awarded an honorary Doctorate from the University of Ulster.

Maeve Kyle was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2006 Coaching Awards in London in recognition of her work with athletes at the Ballymena and Antrim Athletics Club. Earlier in 2006 she was one of 10 players who were installed into Irish Hockey's Hall of Fame. She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours. Aged 87 Meave was predeceased by her husband Sean Kyle last November in Ballymena where the couple have resided for many years.

Sean and Maeve Kyle, set up the Ballymena and Antrim Athletics Club in 1955 coaching a host of top local athletes for close to five decades. Sean was a renowned athletics coach. He met his further wife, Ireland hockey international Maeve Shankey, in 1953 and within three years she had become an Olympic sprinter under his guidance. The middle-distance specialist coached a host of other international athletes including Mark Kirk, James McIlroy, Sean O'Neill and Eddie King. Dame Mary Peters, who achieved Olympic glory in 1972, had a stint at the Ballymena and Antrim club early in her career. Both Kyles continued to coach international athletes well into their seventies and contributed hugely to sport at the grassroots level.

“We’re sorry that Ronnie Delany is now unable to attend as our special guest for next Friday night’s Donegal Sports Star Awards function. However, I’m very pleased that with Ronnie’s help another Irish sporting icon Maeve Kyle has accepted the invitation to now be our special guest for this very special 40th anniversary Awards ceremony in the Mount Errigal. It’s her second time to be with us in this capacity having also performed the honours in 1986. There’s less than a week to go now so the committee is busy finalizing the arrangements for Friday night where we are going to have a full house for the function” said Chairperson Neil Martin.

On the first occasion that Maeve Kyle was the Donegal Sports Star Awards special guest 30 years ago the Overall Winner was Gweedore boxer Patrick O’Donnell. The category winners that night were Gilbert Hall, Carrigart (Clay Pigeon Shooting); Donal Reid, Killygordon (GAA); Ed Moore, Letterkenny (Hockey); James Cullen, Letterkenny (Motorsport); Joe Cawley (Rugby); Padraig Coyle, Gweedore (Soccer); Gary Harvey (Squash); St. Eunan’s College, Letterkenny (Best School); Bridie Lynch, St. Johnston (Disabled Athlete); Frank Larkin, Letterkenny (Disabled Athlete Special Award); Liam O’Reilly, Dungloe (Appreciation); St. Eunan’s College, Letterkenny (Team) and Mrs Maura O’Donnell, Mountcharles (Hall of Fame for Golf).