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Former All-Ireland winner receives doctorate for distinction in sport

Tuesday 2nd July 2019

Former All-Ireland winner receives doctorate for distinction in sport


Queen’s University have honoured GAA legend Sean O’Neill with an Honorary Degree at a graduation ceremony in Belfast today. 


At this morning’s event at the university’s Whitla Hall, the three-time All-Ireland winner was conferred with a Doctorate of the University for distinction in sport.


Sean O’Neill is one of the most celebrated figures in Gaelic Football.  He won three All-Ireland titles, 8 Ulster medals with Down, a record 8 Railway Cups with Ulster and was named on the GAA Team of the Century and Team of the Millennium.  He was Footballer of the Year in 1968 and was also named as the Ulster Footballer of the Millennium in 2000.


He was also honoured on the first two Allstar Football teams in 1971 and 1972.


Sean also won two Sigerson Cup medals with Queen’s in 1958 and 1964.  As a coach/manager, he was in charge of the Down team that won the Ulster and All-Ireland U18 championship in 1977 and was also in charge of the Queen's team that won the Sigerson Cup in 1982.  He graduated from the university with a degree in law.


Sean has given loyal service and support to the Queen’s club for over half a century.  In 2013, he was honoured by Queen's GAA as the inaugural recipient of the Paddy O'Hara Medal of Honour.


He now joins a long and distinguished list of honorary graduates, including former US President Bill Clinton, former Irish Presidents Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese, Senator George Mitchell, WB Yeats and Seamus Heaney.  Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte was honoured in 2006.


In the citation delivered at this morning’s ceremony, Queen’s University Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor David Jones stated that “Sean has proven over decades to be a man of outstanding talent, integrity and solidity. He stands in our midst as one of the greatest Gaelic footballers in the history of the game – a true legend of Irish sport.”


The Queen’s University GAA Past members’ Union have conveyed their congratulations to Sean, stating that “the award of an honorary doctorate is a particularly important accolade that is bestowed on those who have brought distinction to the fields of politics, public service, academia, sports, the arts and literature.  Sean O’Neill is a very worthy recipient, having excelled on the field and having contributed significantly to Gaelic Football and the GAA at all levels with Queen’s, Newry Mitchels, Down and Ulster.  Just as he has been a very proud Queen’s man, we take great pride in regarding him as one of our own and we are delighted that he is to be honoured in this way.”