UCC Sports Star Award 2019/20

UCC Sports Star Award winners 2019-2020

UCC sporting students shoot for stars

UCC’s top young sports stars were honoured by UCC at the Sports Star Awards 2019/2020. While sporting activity may seem like a distant memory there were many individual and team successes within UCC Sports clubs for 2019/20.  The awards, proudly sponsored by River Lee Hotel, were presented online https://www.ucc.ie/en/live/sports-stars/  at 6pm on Wednesday 16th December, and we welcomed our UCC families and community to join us in honouring some of our stars.

The Annual Sports Star Awards, now in their 37th year, recognise outstanding sporting performances from UCC sports club athletes.

UCC’s Head of Sport Morgan Buckley praised the sports stars, their coaches and the sports clubs for their performance for UCC in 2019/2020:

Although the sporting year was cut short, we still have had another great year with UCC Sports Clubs: the Fitzgibbon Cup staying in Leeside for another year.  The U20’s rugby secured the Donal Walsh Trophy for a third consecutive year, along with Aussie Rules and Trampoline making it a hat-trick of success in their intervarsity competitions.  Mountaineering and Canoe clubs also enjoyed intervarsity success and our athletes medalled at the Indoor Athletics Intervarsities and many more.

There were plenty of individual successes throughout the year, Martial Arts, Dance, Surf, Fencing and Tennis to name but a few.

With many events halted through the global pandemic, several UCC Clubs missed out on the opportunity of securing further silverware.  Men’s & Women’s Hockey clubs both reached Munster finals, Women’s soccer had reach both league and Intervarsity semi-finals.  Our Ladies Footballers had secured a place in the O’Connor Cup finals.

I’d like to take this opportunity to recognise the many volunteers involved in our clubs, it’s been a challenging year, but they’ve all worked with us to get sport back in the current climate.

The River Lee Hotel continues to be the main sponsor of this event with the Bank of Ireland as co-sponsor.

David Cussen, picks up his award for his performances in his athletic field events, high jump and long jump.   The UCC Scholarship recipient dominated in high jump events at the Celtic Intervarsities, National Senior Championships and the Non-Thomas New Year Open in Cardiff.  While picking up silver if the long jump and high jump, setting a new UCC record at the Indoor Intervarsities in February.   David has also represented Ireland in the European team Championships in Sadnes, Norway in July 2019. David is currently national indoor and outdoor senior high jump champion.


Brian Hartnett, is a member of both UCC and Douglas GAA clubs.  Hartnett was a key member of the Sigerson team who were beaten semi-finalists.   Despite never having played underage Intercounty football, Brian represented Cork at U20’s level and went on to win the All Ireland in 2019.   His performances on the field were also recognised locally as he was Cork 96FM’s Sports Star of the Year winner in 2019.



Sean Desmond, as a second year finance student had a very impressive year on the golf course.  Winning both the South of Ireland Open Amateur Championship and the Munster Students Championship in the summer of 2019.   The former U18 Irish International also competed in the R&A series events, a field consisted of some of the best student golfers from around Europe.

Sean is the current record holder in Ceann Sibeal Dingle Golf Club with 65 (-7) and in Monkstown with 64 (-6). He also represented Munster at the Senior Interprovincial Championships in Tullamore Golf club for the first-time in summer 2019. He was the youngest player on the team, and the only UCC student that has been selected for this team, while being a UCC student.



Caoimhe Perdue, a Quercus Sports Scholarship recipient played a role in the UCC senior women’s hockey team winning the Munster Senior League 2019/20.   The senior team also reached the Munster Senior Cup Final, however the game was cancelled due to the pandemic.  They also had an impressive run EY 2 league, sitting in second place prior to the pandemic.

Caoimhe has also impressed on the international stage, and is ever present on the U21 and U23 squads, while also getting an opportunity to showcase her ability with the Irish senior extended squad



Shane Kingston, in his third year of economics and computer science, Shane was a key component in UCC securing the Fitzgibbon for a second year in a row.  His performances on the pitch were recognised far and wide. He was awarded the Southside & District Sports Star of the month in February, named Electric Ireland GAA Higher Education GAA Rising Star Hurling ”Player of the Year” following his performances in the Fitzgibbon Cup, as well as picking up the Colleges GAA All Star 2020.



Shane Conway, is collecting his second consecutive UCC Sports Star award, having played a major role in UCCs Hurling success again this past year.  While in his third year, Shane was a UCC Sports Scholarship recipient, and in securing the Fitzgibbon Cup 2020, he was named “Player of the Match” in the final.  Shane was voted GAA.ie “Hurler of the Week” following his performance for UCC in the Fitzgibbon Cup Final, as well as picking up a Colleges GAA All Star 2020.

The Kerry native was a Kerry Senior Intercounty player  and a member of the Kerry team who reached the league final in 2020 which like so many other activities and events was cancelled due to COVID-19



What a year it has been for UCC rowers, with many still following an Olympic dream.

Quercus Sports Scholar Emily Hegarty, competed at the World U23 Rowing Championships in July 2019 and won a silver medal at in the Women’s 4.  Emily also, competed at the World Senior Rowing Championships in Austria in Aug 2019.  At the High-Performance Trials in February 2020 she won Heavyweight U23 Women’s title and received the quarterly Evening Echo Women’s Sports Star Award in Oct 2019.



Tara Hanlon, a UCC Sports Scholarship recipient, also competed at the World U23 Rowing Championships in July 2019 winning a silver medal at in the Women’s 4 with team mate Hegarty. Tara also, competed at the World Senior Rowing Championships in Austria in Aug 2019 and also received the quarterly Evening Echo Women’s Sports Star Award in Oct 2019 with Emily..

Despite the busy academic and sporting schedule, Tara is involved in the UCC rowing club committee as PRO.


Ronan Byrne, is a Quercus Sports Scholarship recipient  At the World Cup regatta in July 2019 won a silver medal. He partnered Philip Doyle in the Men’s Open Weight Double Sculls.  At the World Senior Rowing Championships in Austria in Aug 2019: Ronan & Philip Doyle won silver in the Heavyweight M2x & achieved Olympic Qualification.  At the U23 European Championships in Greece in September 2019 won Gold in the Men’s Heavyweight Single Sculls.

Ronan’s achievements on the water have resulted him picking up a number of individual accolades over the past 12months. These included the Southside Sports Star of the month for September 2019; World Rowing’s “Rising Star” for September 2019; shortlisted for the 2019 World Rowing Filippi Spirit Award in Oct 2019; At the National Trials held in Oct 2019: –Fastest Men’s Sculler and at the High-Performance Trials in February 2020: won the Heavyweight U23 Men


Paul O Donovan, is also Quercus Sports Scholarship recipient and is receiving the UCC Sports Star Award for a second consecutive year. At the World Cup regatta in July 2019: partnered another UCC student Fintan McCarthy in the Men’s Lightweight Double Sculls to a silver medal.  At the World Senior Rowing Championships in Austria in Aug 2019: Paul & Fintan McCarthy won gold in the Lightweight M2x & achieved Olympic Qualification.   Paul & Fintan McCarthy were shortlisted for the 2019 World Rowing Men’s Crew of the Year.  Paul has also had a number of individual achievements, such as: At the National Trials held in Oct 2019: fastest Lightweight men’s sculler; He was named as one of the Top 10 Rowers in the World in Nov 2019 and at the High-Performance Trials in February2020: won Senior Lightweight Men.



Switching to Rugby, John Hodnett, another Quercus Sports Scholarship recipient and consecutive UCC Sports Star Award winner.  John is a member of UCC Senior team who play in the AIL Division 1, as well as Munster Development Squad Player; Munster “A”; and Munster Senior Squad. In his PRO14 debut for Munster, John was on the scoresheet with a try.   On the international scene, John played with the Irish U20 – in the World Cup in the summer of 2019 and won U20’s Six Nations Championship, Grand Slam & Triple Crown in 2019.



Anya Curran¸ as a PhD student Anya continued to excel in her sport. Anya has spent the last 6 months in the US on a research exchange programme. However prior to this in the European Taekwon-do Championships in August 2019 Anya, won gold in individual female black belt lightweight sparring; won gold in the female black belt team events as was part of the Irish team in the patterns section and won silver in the sparring section as a member of the Irish female black belt team.



Christina Dring, during her second year of Civil Engineering Christina has excelled in two sporting codes – women’s soccer and hockey.   Christina is a UCC Roy Keane Sports Scholarship recipient and is a member of the UCC women’s soccer team who had qualified for the Kelly Cup semi-finals (intervarsity) and the league semi-final both of which were cancelled due to COVID 19.  As well as representing UCC, Christina also lines out Cork City Women’s FC who compete in the FAI Women’s national league.  As if she wasn’t busy enough with that, Christina was also a part of the UCC Women’s Hockey team and their Munster Senior League success.



Team of the Year, is presented to the Fitzgibbon Cup team who retained their Fitzgibbon title for a second consecutive year.  They did it the hard way, conceding two early goals in the final against IT Carlow and down a player for the closing 10minutes.  If anything these blows spurred them on further to dig deep and show a strength in character that showed why they were defending champions.


This year’s Kieran Dowd Special Achievement Award is being presented to Charlie McLaughlin in recognition of his 25 years of service to UCC GAA.  Charlie can be found at the Mardyke several nights a week when the University’s GAA season is in full swing.   He has been involved with several squads over the years, Ladies Football, Fresher, Intermediate and Sigerson Cup squads.   Charlie is an invaluable volunteer to the UCC GAA Community, filling many roles within the club over the years.



Dr Con Murphy, is the inaugural recipient of the UCC Skull & Bones Award.  This is a new UCC Sport ‘Hall of Fame’ Award.  Dr Con as he is affectionately known has over 50 years of service to UCC Gaelic Football Club.  He is the club president and is actively involved in the day to day operations of the club.  Dr Con recently retired as general practitioner but is remaining involve with UCC Football club.  Interim President John O’Halloran presented Dr Con with a specially commissioned Skull & Bones medal.



The full list of UCC Sports Star Awards 2019-20 winners is as follows:

  • David Cussen, Athletics
  • Brian Hartnett, Gaelic Football
  • Sean Desmond, Golf
  • Caoimhe Perdue, Hockey
  • Shane Kingston, Hurling
  • Shane Conway. Hurling
  • Emily Hegarty, Rowing
  • Tara Hanlon, Rowing
  • Ronan Byrne, Rowing
  • Paul O’Donovan, Rowing
  • John Hodnett, Rugby
  • Anya Curran, Taekwon Do
  • Christina Dring, Soccer & Hockey


For further information, please contact Christine O’Donovan, Deputy Director of Sport & Physical Activity – sport@ucc.ie