Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Maeve’s magic moment

Maeve Kyle is the latest big name to enter the Belfast Telegraph Hall of Fame and she was pictured at the gala awards evening at the Ramada Hotel last night with her husband, Sean
Maeve Kyle is the latest big name to enter the Belfast Telegraph Hall of Fame and she was pictured at the gala awards evening at the Ramada Hotel last night with her husband, Sean
Belfast Telegraph Sports Star of the Year, Rory McIlroy, is presented with his trophy by Group Sports Editor Jim Gracey
Ulster Rugby plaers Tom Court, Darren Cave, Stephen Ferris, Paddy Wallace and Chris Henry with the new Belfast Telegraph Ulster Rugby calendar
Nigel Worthington and Pat Jennings
Player of the Year Award winner Stephen Ferris with Nicola McCleery, Head of Marketing at Magners Irish Cider
Enjoying last night’s Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards are (from left) former Ulster hero Simon Best, Richard McClean, Assistant Managing Director of the Belfast Telegraph and INM (NI) Chief Executive Michael Brophy
Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin with his wife Judith
Celtic and Northern Ireland star Niall McGinn (right) with his agent, Gerry Carlile
Phil McCord and Sport NI Manager/Coach of the Year Liam Bradley enjoy the celebration of sporting talent at the Ramada Hotel last night. Liam was rewarded for guiding Antrim to the Ulster final for the first time since 1970
Rugby legend Dr Syd Millar, CBE, and Gavin O'Reilly, Chief Executive of Independent News & Media
Ulster GAA President Tom Daly and Tyrone manager Mickey Harte
Rory McCann, Eugene Moleon and Daniel Graham from Instonians
Alan Simpson and Jill Douglas
Northern Ireland netball players Hannah Irvine, Cathy McLean and Lisa McCaffrey attend the gala awards night at the Ramada Hotel. The team performed heroics in the Netball Nations Cup in Singapore last month
Netballers Elaine Rice and Micaela Brunton
Lynne and Kyle McCallum
Chris Henry, Cecil Watson, Rory Best and Sid Millar
Irish Football Association President Raymond Kennedy, Sport NI Chief Executive Dr Eamonn McCartan and Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington were among the special guests at last night’s gala evening at the Ramada Hotel
Jack Cooper, Bob Colhoun, Maeve Kyle (who received the Belfast Telegraph Hall of Fame trophy) and Sean Kyle
David Kelly

By David Kelly

When Seb Coe arrived at Hillsborough Castle four years ago to announce the Olympic investment coming Northern Ireland's way due to London landing the 2010 Games, one woman received a special mention - Maeve Kyle.

The three-time Olympian was there for Coe as team manager of the British team when he was at his peak in the 1980s just as she has been for numerous athletes trying to follow in her illustrious footsteps.

Last night's Hall of Fame Award winner not only stood out as a world class athlete but also as an outstanding Irish hockey star, being named in the World All Star teams of 1953 and 1959 having won 58 caps.

On the track, Maeve competed at the Melbourne 1956, Rome 1960 and Tokyo 1964 Olympics and claimed a 400m bronze medal at the European Indoor championships in Dortmund.

Maeve wasn't going to allow such great experience to go to waste and her retirement only sparked a great coaching career, becoming a founder member of the renowned Ballymena and Antrim Athletics Club.

Her dedication to sport and the development of coaching was honoured by a National Coaching Lifetime Achievement Award, an Honorary degree from the University of Ulster and an O.B.E. in the 2008 New Year's Honours.

Sport has always been in her blood, from those early days in Kilkenny where her father was headmaster at Kilkenny College and she had the opportunity to play handball with the legendary JJ Gilmartin.

“The game of handball is special. It is great because it brings in so much movement. It develops hand and eye co-ordination better than any other sport I know and probably helped me later in my sporting life when I played hockey,” says Maeve, whose uncle Harry Thrift played on the wing for Ireland and was later honorary secretary of the International Rugby Board.

Because of ecclesiastical disapproval, women's athletics was virtually non-existent during Maeve's prime years and, by then married to Sean Kyle in Ballymena, she was 28 when chosen for Melbourne.



In Video: Gary Grattan reports from the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards



So, it was mainly hockey in the early days and she was just 14 when she played in an inter-provincial series, Maeve on one wing, her mother on the other. Then it was on to Dublin and Alexandra College and Trinity.

The year after she left school she got her first hockey cap for Ireland in 1947 and in 1950 she was a member of the Irish team that won the Triple Crown. She enjoyed quite a career and continues to try and help others live their dreams.

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