Munster LGFA & MIC Team Up on Bursary Scheme
Four students from Mary Immaculate College (MIC) have been awarded bursaries in honour of MIC graduate and Tipperary ladies footballer, Rachel Kenneally. The Rachel Kenneally Memorial Award, a bursary scheme funded by Munster LGFA, was announced by MIC last February in honour of Rachel who sadly passed away in 2018 at the age of 26.
Sophie Hennessy, Fiona Keating, Micaela Glynn and Kate Hickey (pictured above) are the first cohort of students to be awarded bursaries under this scheme with each bursary valued at €750. At the inaugural presentation of the Rachel Kenneally Memorial Award, which was held online last night (17 February), President of MIC, Professor Eugene Wall, commended the students for their commitment to ladies football and congratulated them on receiving these awards in recognition of their sporting achievements.
Speaking at the presentation, Professor Wall said, “Ladies football has a long tradition at MIC and we are committed to supporting female athletes and coaches while they are students here at the College, and also within their own communities. In awarding Sophie, Fiona, Micaela and Kate these bursaries, it is envisaged that they will contribute to college life, and to their clubs and counties by playing, coaching, promoting and by being ambassadors for the sport. We are delighted to be able to honour MIC graduate, Rachel Kenneally in this way and these awards reflect our commitment to the development of high value scholarship initiatives and award schemes.”
For the four recipients of the Rachel Kenneally Memorial Award, Rachel was a player who they and many of their peers look to for inspiration. According to Sophie Hennessy who hails from Carrigkerry in Co. Limerick, “Rachel was a brilliant ambassador for ladies football and this bursary continues to elevate the profile of ladies football. I’m delighted to receive this bursary in her memory.” For Fiona Keating, a native of Ballinspittle in Co. Cork, “Rachel contributed so much to ladies football with her club, college and county. To be one of four awardees of this prestigious bursary means the world to me. I look forward to honouring Rachel's memory by putting this bursary to use to enable me to fulfill my potential academically and in my sporting career.”
Speaking at the online presentation, Rachel’s father, Denis Kenneally, said, “It is a huge honour for Mary (Rachel’s mother) and I, as well as Rachel’s sisters, Laura and Louise in Australia, and her extended family, for Rachel to be remembered in this way. We would like to congratulate the winners and also commend all of those who applied for this bursary scheme. It is a very difficult time for all but especially for young students. Rachel would be so proud of you all. Never give up hope – tomorrow is a new day."
Jerome Casey, President of Munster LGFA, said, “Munster LGFA is delighted to sponsor these bursaries for students in Mary Immaculate College in memory of Tipperary’s Rachel Kenneally. It is an honour to be partnering with MIC in this initiative and it is wonderful to honour Rachel in this way.”
All of the awardees are in their first year of college at MIC. Sophie Hennessey, Micaela Glynn and Kate Hickey are each studying at MIC Limerick to become primary teachers, while Fiona Keating is studying at MIC Thurles to become a mathematics and business studies post-primary teacher. For Micaela, who hails from Kilmihil in Co. Clare, the suspension of team training and matches due to the lockdown has been difficult at times. She said, “I miss the environment, as well as the support from my team mates and management who make it all worthwhile. I can’t wait to be back on the pitch playing football with those who I’ve grown up playing with. At the end of the day, it’s them I have to thank for my love of sport and I look forward to the competitiveness and group challenges to be back again.”
This sentiment was echoed by Kate, a native of Kilbrien in Co. Waterford, who said, “Before the pandemic, my local pitch was like my second home. I’ve missed this in the last year and it's strange to pass there now and see the gates and dressing rooms locked up. But I think most of all I'm missing the fun aspect of football. St. Pat’s is a small club and everyone knows each other really well. We're all great friends and you'd miss meeting up with the girls at training and at matches and having a laugh. But hopefully we will be back playing together again soon, when it is safe to do so.”
Rachel Kenneally graduated from MIC in 2013 having studied to become a primary teacher. The Aherlow club player was an integral member of the MIC ladies football team that were crowned Giles Cup champions in 2012 and having made her debut for the Tipperary senior ladies football team in 2009, Rachel played inter-county ladies football until 2014.
Like Rachel, all four awardees have achieved significant successes with both club and county. Sophie Hennessy plays with Old Mill Ladies Football Club, as well as the Limerick ladies junior football team. Fiona Keating plays for Courcey Rovers Camogie and Ladies Football Club, West Cork Ladies Football Club and the Cork senior camogie team. Micaela is a member of the Clare ladies intermediate team, as well as playing for her local club Kilmihil Ladies Football Club, while Kate plays with her local club St. Patrick’s GAA. She is also a former member of the Waterford ladies minor team, and as well as being a committed player, Kate is also a coach, something which she credits as the inspiration behind her career choice. She said, “The energy and excitement that the children show when playing football and achieving their goals has made me realise how much I would love to work with children in the future. So, that’s why I’m now studying for a Bachelor of Education degree at MIC and I’m loving every minute of it!”