Hugh Rudden from Ballyhaunis and Belmullet’s Pat Gorham were among the recipients of the prestigious GAA President’s Awards, which were presented at a gala banquet in Croke Park on Friday night.
The awards are intended to acknowledge outstanding commitment and long service across the GAA’s club and county network.
Hugh was the winner of the Education Award in recognition of his services to schools GAA in Ballyhaunis, Mayo and the wider region. Pat was the recipient of the International Award in recognition of the remarkable work he has done to promote Gaelic games with the Orang Éire GAA Club in Malaysia.
Hugh Rudden is a native of Bawnboy in West Cavan who moved to Mayo in 1972 to teach at Ballyhaunis Vocational School. Within days of taking up his post, he was coaching the school’s football team.
Hugh has amassed a wealth of experience as a GAA administrator and official. He served as president of Mayo GAA, a position he held in 2006 when his clubmate, Keith Higgins, captained the county to the All-Ireland under-21 title. He remains active on a number of groups and committees within the GAA, including the National Grounds Maintenance Committee and the Connacht Council Hearing’s Committee.
The physical impact of Hugh’s commitment to Ballyhaunis GAA is evident in the role he played in developing the clubhouse, grounds and facilities over a ten-year period, which resulted in the impressive facilities being ready back in 2008.
Meanwhile, Belmullet native Pat Gorham was the first chairman of Orang Éire GAA Club in Malaysia back in 2007 and the passion and enthusiasm he brought to the role when the club was in its fledgeling years has never waned.
Since then, he has helped to create a club that has been not only a home from home for many members of the Irish diaspora, but has also succeeded in winning over new friends and admirers and players to Gaelic games from among locals and other non-native Irish.
Pat was instrumental in bringing the GAA Football All-Stars to Kuala Lumpur in 2010 and hosting the Asian Gaelic Games from 2012 to 2014. He also helped initiate a tie-in with a local Aussie Rules team to ensure there was no shortage of competitive action.
The Asian Gaelic Games now attracts more than 800 players to its staging and Pat has helped to create this showcase of World GAA in action through his role at Asian County Board level.
Speaking at the awards presentation, GAA President John Horan said: “The GAA exists because of the volunteer effort of inspirational people. The impact and infectious enthusiasm of these people is the beating heart of what our great Association has grown to be for more than 130 years.
“These awards present us with an all too rare opportunity to stop and reflect and say thank you to a group of people who have made and who continue to make a life-long contribution to the GAA and who are such magnificent role models.”