O’Brien to Receive Mr. Boots Award
11th April 2008 By Munster Rugby
Ballincollig RFC’s John O’Brien, who is a founding member of the All Ireland Junior Committee, will receive this year’s Mr. Boots Award at a special presentation tonight at the Grand Hotel Moate Co Westmeath.
This national award is given for outstanding contribution to Junior Rugby, and was first introduced after the retirement of the legendary Willie John McBride in 1980. One of his last games was against Arklow RFC, and after the game he presented his famous footwear to Arklow Rugby Club as a memento of the occasion. In memory of Willie John’s contribution to Irish rugby and in particular to Junior rugby, it was decided to honour ‘The Boots’ by presenting an annual award to a person, who in the opinion of the panel of adjudicators, had rendered a long and outstanding service to Junior rugby in Ireland. With nominations garnered from each of the four provinces, this prestigious award has seen well deserving winners in its 25 year history, including Dick Smyth of Thomond RFC in its first year, Dan McGrath from Dungarvan RFC, Bobby O’ Brien in 1998 and Niall O’Driscoll in 2005.
This year’s recipient, John O’Brien of Ballincollig RFC, first touched a rugby ball the Presentation College pitch in the Mardyke in Cork at the tender age of 8. The next time he played serious rugby was in the Crescent College Limerick at the age of eleven. He played for the Junior and Senior teams under the direction of Fr G Guinnane. After school he played for Old Crescent for a number of years before emigrating to London. While there he togged out for Wasps and Millhill as well as freelancing. In 1969 he married a girl from Wexford and they had a son and daughter.
They returned to Cork in 1978 and settled in Ballincollig in Co. Cork. He joined Ballincollig RFC in the same year and served as Hon Secretary and Fixtures Secretary.
As Secretary he got more involved with the South Munster Committee, the Cork County Committee, the Junior Committee, and eventually on the Munster Branch. In 1999 he and three others formed the All Ireland Junior Committee. This has now expanded into 2 members from each province. Maurice Walsh from Castleisland forms the other part of the partnership on the Munster side.
This year to his absolute delight he was awarded the title of Mr. Boots in recognition of his service to Junior Rugby and will be presented with his award tonight at a special gala evening which includes George Hook as Guest Speaker.