Sporting alumni reunite to celebrate genesis of PE at UL

Phil Aherne and Virgo Hynes presented a framed jersey from the 1977 NCPE hurling team to UL Provost Shane Kilcommins. Photo: Don Moloney.

THE first group of first year students to attended classes at what today is known as the Department of Physical Education and Sports Sciences (PESS) at the University of Limerick (UL) gathered together this past weekend to reminisce over golden days gone by.

The class of 1977 from the National College of Physical Education, which was succeeded by the PESS department of UL, held their 46-year reunion on Friday September 29 to celebrate the genesis of physical education at UL.

Alumni gathered for a celebration at Plassey House, where they were welcomed by Provost and Deputy President of UL, Professor Shane Kilcommins, followed by a dinner at the Castletroy Park Hotel.

At the informal ceremony, Professor Kilcommins was presented with a framed jersey from the 1977 college hurling team by class member Phil Aherne.

Among the 90 students who began their studies with the graduating class of 1977 were outgoing GAA President Larry McCarthy, renowned Kerry footballer and All-Star Pat Spillane, and Cork’s Liam O’Brien, who represented Ireland in the 3,000m steeplechase at the 1984 Olympic Games.

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Many intercounty footballers in the graduating group also played on the famous team that won the All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship in 1977.

Amongst the Limerick contingent in the Class of 1977 were Antoinette McGinley, Gráinne Scanlon, Pauline Goodwin, the late Con Sherin, John Quane, Ger Small, Catherine Bowen, Greg McInerney, and Matt Kelly.

The 1977 class were the first cohort of first years to take up their studies at Plassey, though their academic careers began in earnest in the Brandon Hotel in Tralee in 1973 before they transferred to Castletroy shortly after Easter of that year to resume classes in what is now known as the ‘PESS Building’ on UL’s campus.