Ulster Hockey is delighted that 3 local hockey legends have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Ireland’s most capped female sports person and current Ulster Hockey Talent Manager Shirley McCay has been awarded the MBE for services to hockey and the community in Northern Ireland. Shirley made her debut for Ireland in 2007 and since then has amassed a massive 316 caps having missed only 37 capped matches since her debut. Shirley was part of the Ireland side which reached the final of the 2018 World Cup Final and was an integral member of the squad which qualified for and participated at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo in 2021.
Alongside her international exploits, the defender also enjoyed a lengthy club career with Randalstown, Ulster Elks, KHC Dragons in Belgium, Old Alexandra and Pegasus, where she was an EY Champions Trophy winner.
Shirley’s final match was Ireland’s 2-0 defeat by Great Britain at the Tokyo Games in August and she is now completely focussed on her role as Talent Manager for Ulster Hockey, inspiring the next generation of talented players to fulfil their potential.
“This is a recognition that I never thought I would have got – it was completely unexpected and a really nice surprise,” added McCay. “I feel incredibly lucky to be able to give back to the sport which has given me so much.”
The Board and Staff of Ulster Hockey are proud to have Shirley as a member of staff and proud of her achievements.
Ronnie Smyth, a stalwart of Ulster and Annadale hockey, is appointed a BEM for his services to the sport. Recognised as the ‘Godfather of Coaching’ in Ulster Hockey, Ronnie has committed over 50 years to developing the sport he loves. In that 50 years, the impact he has had on both Ulster Hockey and Annadale Hockey club is priceless. A familiar face coaching young players at the Orangefield Summer Hockey camps in the 1980s, through a long career as a volunteer and coach with Annadale Hockey Club and Ulster & Ireland age groups, Ronnie has been an inspiration to countless hockey players over the years. A former member of staff with Sport NI, Ronnie has recently raised significant funds for charity through sales of his book ‘Keep your Eye on the Ball’.
Eilish Rutherford has been appointed MBE for services to sport and charity in Northern Ireland. Former Chair of the Mary Peters Trust, Eilish Rutherford (nee Mackin) played representative levels for Ulster and Ireland and captained both of these teams at senior level.