- Lauren McCann & Andy Gray
- BBC Sports NI
Dave Finlay said when he first received the letter that he would be awarded an MBE in the King’s New Year Honors list, he thought he was in for bad news.
The 87-year-old founded his own wrestling club in 1968 and has been recognized for his contribution to Northern Ireland Olympic wrestling.
Finlay is one of 10 people from NI to be named to the sporting honors list.
“When I saw the letter, I said to my daughter Wendy, ‘Looks like I got a speeding citation,'” Finlay said.
“It looked pretty official so I thought it was just a speeding citation.
“I thought it was a big deal a few days ago, but now I’m just starting to think about it and I’m in complete shock.”
Finlay coached at the club he founded on Green Island until he retired earlier this year, and he explained that his family has a long tradition of wrestling under Finlay’s tutelage.
“Wrestling was so much fun that the kids got into it and it became a great hobby for everyone,” he added.
“I set up my own club and it grew exponentially. We started winning All England Championship medals, we had players appearing in the Commonwealth Games and we had great success.
“I was invited to coach wrestling from all over the world because it seemed like I had a talent for coaching wrestling.”
He added, “My son David is now in America and is a big coach in WWE. My two grandsons are wrestling in Japan and America. My granddaughter was a champion in high school in America, so I I think he was doing the right thing,” he added.
“I got it six times.”
Frank Donnelly, chairman of Down Special Olympics for 17 years, said he was “shocked and delighted” to have been awarded the MBE for his contribution to disability sport.
“This award is not just for me; it’s for all the people who have worked with me over the years, including the volunteers and athletes,” Donnelly said.
“We have had very good results at the Down Special Olympics over the years, and this year at the Special Olympics World Championships in Germany we had two great players, Peter Fitzpatrick in soccer and Jacqueline Stewart in golf. A number of players have been selected to represent Ireland.
“I got involved with Special Olympics as a lay volunteer in the early 1990s, and when I started working with Down Special Olympics, I never in a million years thought this would happen.
“I was really excited when I received this letter. It’s great to work with athletes. You encourage them, you coach them, and you’re happy when they do well. .It helps me and it’s a really good topic for me too.” ”
Robert McVeigh, member of the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council since 1992 and former president of the association, and Northern Ireland’s first female head of delegation to the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Allison Moffitt-Robinson, who became the She is an MBE.
“When I received the letter, I was honored. I have been very lucky to be surrounded by dedicated people and good people who have given me great support. I hope I was able to help the players achieve better results and improve themselves,” McVay said.
“It’s a huge reward for me, but it means even more to my family, who have given me so much support and made so many sacrifices as I’ve been involved in the Commonwealth Games.
“I joined the organization at a good time when the federation was growing and we had more investment in the sport and we had good results and that made a big difference.
“It gave me a lot of pride for Northern Ireland to win the medal. It’s hard to pick one moment. When your thoughts are elsewhere, you have another moment. It’s good for me. There are too many moments. There are memories that will last a lifetime.” ”
Moffitt-Robinson is Head of Sport Development at the University of Ulster and was recognized for his services to sport management and development in Northern Ireland.
“It was a shiny envelope in the mail and I had no idea what it would look like for a second. I was so happy to receive it. It was like a bolt out of the blue,” she said.
“I never imagined I would be recognized in that way, but it’s a great thing.
“We are playing this role out of love for it and we are truly grateful for this opportunity.
“This is really the perfect icing on the cake for doing what you love and getting the honor. When you think of yourself alongside the previous winners, you think very highly of them. And to be considered alongside them is truly a huge honor.”
Former Northern Ireland referee Leslie Irvine was also appointed MBE in recognition of his contribution to football.
Mr. Irvine served as a FIFA international referee until his retirement in 2003, and currently serves as an international referee.
Michael Boyd, former head of football at the Irish FA, was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to football, sport, charity and reconciliation in Northern Ireland, during his 22 years with the governing body in various roles. becomes.
“I’m really happy. It’s a great honor,” Boyd said.
“I am passionate about the development of sport and charity and it is great to have my work in these areas recognized with an OBE.”
Deon McNeely, chairman of Newcastle Athletics Club, and David Wheeler, chairman of Lisnaskea Rovers Football Club, were awarded BEMs for their services to athletics and football respectively.
Also receiving BEMs were Santos coach Patrick McGeehan for his volunteer work to football and Ballymena Saturday Morning League chairman William King for his contribution to football in Northern Ireland.