IRELAND’s grand slam rugby coach Declan Kidney was conferred with an honorary doctorate by the University of Limerick yesterday.
His wife, Anne, and son Cian, 15, travelled from the family home in Ballincollig, Co Cork, for the ceremony.
But like father like son, the older of the couple’s two boys, Kevin, 19, didn’t make it due to his dedication to rugby.
Proud dad, Declan revealed: “Kevin is training with the Munster Under 20 side today.”
Dressed in scarlet robes and gold tassled hat, Declan said the occasion was a bit overpowering as rugby was the ultimate team game.
At the conferring ceremony in the UL Concert Hall, Professor Stephen O’Brien, head of applied mathematics at UL, read the citation which stated: “It takes a special kind of person to withstand the frustrations and pressures of constant review, and it takes a truly remarkable individual to emerge from many years of intense public scrutiny as a widely acknowledged, highly successful coach who enjoys the respect of players, officials, fans and the media. Our honouree, Declan Kidney, is such a man.”
President of UL Professor Don Barry said Declan Kidney, through his achievements in rugby, had brought much distinction to this region of the country.
He added: “The University of Limerick, with its proud sporting tradition, is proud to recognise and honour the contributions of Declan Kidney to Irish rugby and to the enhancement of Ireland’s international prestige.”
Dr Kidney paid tribute to the facilities offered to Irish rugby teams at UL, which he said were amongst the best in the world.
He was particularly delighted to be honoured in Limerick, which he said had been the hub of the game for more than 100 years.
Receiving the doctorate, he said, was a bit daunting in front of a big audience.
“It’s a real humbling experience, but fantastic. I’m really grateful to the University of Limerick for giving me this honour. It is a huge award for any university to bestow and I just give it my best. But I think it’s on behalf of all the players and the team,” he said.
Of the season ahead, Dr Kidney said every international side will come gunning for Ireland and big challenges will include away games to England and France.
“But that’s what you want to be checked out on when you’re playing sport. You want to check out yourself against the best and we will be doing that in the coming season,” he said.
The conferring was attended by legends of Irish and Munster rugby, along with representatives of the IRFU and clubs around the country.
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