In 1996 Ballycran decided to honour, those individuals within the club who had provided outstanding service to the club over the years.
The table below shows the recipients of the club’s hall of fame award since its inception in 1996. Underneath the roll of honour is a few more details of the personalities involved and a flavour of the contribution they made to our club.
|2006||Fr. Sean Connolly|
The inaugural winner of the Hall of Fame award in 1996, George was a member of Ballycran’s first team in 1939 and contributed richly to the early years of Ballycran. As well as being a club trustee, George has been a life-long member and supporter of the club and was a very worthy recipient of the first award.
He sadly passed on in March 2008 and will be missed around the club, particularly by the card-playing fraternity.
In 1997 the club awarded Hugh Gilmore with the Hall of Fame award which he proudly cherished. It was a fitting tribute to a man, who not only was a member of the first Ballycran team, but who was a founding member of the club and an early chairman.
In 1939 Hugh and his friend Pat Hamilton approached the headmaster of Ballycran school, F J Mckenna, about the possibility of starting a hurling team in the parish and the club went on over the years to grow from strength to strength.
In the early years of Ballycran’s fledgling hurling history, Tommy O’Flynn was a key player. His prowess on the hurling pitch was well renowned and recounted through the years by many of this peers on the team, all of whom held him in the highest of regard.
Tommy also made a rich contribution to the administration of the club for many years and supported the hurling team religiously through thick and thin. He deservedly received the Hall of Fame award in 1998.
Ballycran were blessed in the early 1960’s to have men of vision at the helm of club affairs. These men sought to build Ballycran GAC from a small rural parish-based club into a great club with facilities such as the splendid McKenna Park and community centre, amongst the best at that time in the entire country.
None was more key to such progress than the club secretary of those years, Hugo McCarthy. He is still a keen observer in the interests of Ballycran and the Hall of Fame recognised the immense contributions he made to the club’s growth and emergence in those key years in our history. Every time you enter McKenna Park you come through the excellent gates meticulously constructed by Hugo for Ballycran.
In 2000 the Hall of Fame award was given to club trustee and long time Ballycran friend and activist Tommy Conlon. Over his many years association with the club, Tommy Conlon carried out sterling work in the cause of Ballycran and was at the forefront of many of the more ambitious and progressive initiatives undertaken by the club. He was recognised by the Hall of Fame selection committee for his much appreciated efforts with this accolade.
For many years the O’Prey name has been synonymous with Ballycran hurling. James O’Prey was an excellent hurler who represented club and county over many years from the 1950’s through to the 1960’s.
Look back through the club history and James Joe O’Prey stands out as a key player for Ballycran over many years. He received the 2001 Hall of Fame award.
Another stalwart on Ballycran hurling teams for many years, Seamus Bell also served the club well as a great club Treasurer. Following his playing career with the club, Seamus continued to give generously of his time and managed various young teams in the club in the 1970’s and is held in high regard to this very day by those young boys who are now not so young men.
His contribution to club life in general ensured that Hall of Fame selection committee saw fit to nominate him for this award in 2002.
Ask anyone with memories of his playing days who was Ballycran’s best ever player, and the name of Hugo O’Prey is sure to resonate amongst the club greats. He was held in the highest esteem not only within Ballycran, but further afield in hurling circles around Down, Ulster and beyond.
Following an illustrious playing career, tragically cut short, Hugo went on to manage the senior hurling team in Ballycran’s golden era. Having stepped back from this task following a long and successful reign, Hugo turned his attention to juvenile coaching and management and club administration. He received the 2003 Hall of Fame award.
For many years Jim McNamara has been at the beck and call of Ballycran members and anyone associated with Ballycran who might need to use McKenna Hall and its facilities. The club treasurer for many years had also a successful playing career and later was involved in running juvenile teams within the club.
Big Jim has devoted his entire life to the cause of Ballycran and provides many services to the club, not least cutting the pitch to keep it in the pristine condition everyone has come to expect of McKenna Park. In 2004 in appreciation of his efforts, Jim was awarded the Ballycran Hall of Fame.
One of Ballycran’s most renowned full-forwards over the years, Seamus Fitzgerald was, in his hey-day a feared and respected attacker. He won many honours with Ballycran from the early fifties right through the 1960’s and his standing in the club was reflected in his inclusion in the historic 1964 Down team which lifted the county’s first all-Ireland junior title.
Later Seamus devoted much time and energy in matters of club administration and served as club chairman for a time. He was awarded the Hall of Fame in 2005.
Fr. Sean Connolly
In 1963, Ballycran were lucky enough to recruit to the service of the club, serving priest in the parish, Fr. Sean Connolly. Not alone did Fr. Connolly encourage a youth policy which was to later pay very rich dividends for Ballycran, but also successfully represented the Senior hurling team as well as finding time to provide many hours of voluntary labour in the building of McKenna Park.
For anyone associated with Ballycran in the 1960’s Fr. Connolly stands out as a popular winner of the 2006 Hall of Fame award.
Gerry Mullan was one of Ballycran’s most outstanding administrators and served not alone within the club, but as a representative in various committees from county through to Ulster board levels. Like other recipients of this award, he was a multi-faceted individual who played at various levels for Ballycran over the years and also participated in coaching the juvenile hurlers in the skills and technicalities of the game.
Always a friend of the club, Gerry was given official recognition of his input over the years with the 2007 Hall of Fame award.
Gerry Fagan has had a long association with Ballycran right through from his hurling days in the sixties to his management and administration days in the eighties. He was part of a vibrant hurling community in the sixties, in what was a dawning of a new era in Ballycran hurling club and played his part in the many successes that various teams within the club experienced at that time.
Later he led the club as chairman for a spell in the 1980’s during which time, the senior hurling team was dominant within Down hurling. In fact, many of the hurlers who played on that senior hurling team came through the intermediate ranks under the stewardship of Gerry Fagan as manager. Gerry was given official recognition for all of his valued input over the years with the 2008 Hall of Fame award.
In 2014, in the club’s 75th Anniversary Year, the very worthy recipient of the Hall of Fame award was a man with a very long and distinguished Ballycran career, both on the field and off. In his playing days Brendan represented the club with distinction and was full-back on the 1974 Ulster Championship winning team that defeated Sarsfields to win the club’s first title at this level.
After retiring from the game, Brendan became a great administrator for the club and served for many years as a very accomplished secretary. He still maintained his interest in the game and saw more Ulster Championship glory with Ballycran in 1993, this time as part of the successful management team. He has been a very loyal servant to the club down through the years and continued for many years in his role as club secretary.
It is a measure of his commitment to Ballycran that Brendan is the 2015 Club Chairman and spends much of his retirement time and energy pursuing the interests of our club.