Anne McHale with her husband Sean.

Two Mayo people honoured with sport volunteer awards

MAYO stalwarts Anne McHale and Johnny Carey will receive national recognition for their dedicated work with Ballina Braves Boys Basketball Club and Geesala Boxing Club respectively this week at the virtual 2020 Federation of Irish Sport Volunteers in Sport awards, supported by EBS Mortgage Masters.

Anne will receive the overall Outstanding Achievement Award while Johnny will be awarded the Mayo award at this week’s ceremony.

Anne McHale has dedicated her life to the sport of basketball and has inspired a whole club of up-and-coming young boys in the sport. She has been the backbone of the club for many years, working hard across all aspects from registration to coaching, committee meetings to fundraising.

She has coached hundreds of boys throughout the years, and her dedication to the individuals and the club is second to none.

In recent years, she has continued to commit herself to the betterment of the club and those within it. This dedication has been described by many parents as impressive and inspirational. She has no doubt made a positive impact on the many young boys in her charge.

Johnny Carey.

Johnny Carey is one of the pillars of Geesala Boxing Club and epitomises all that is good about a community volunteer. Geesala Boxing Club wouldn't be what it is today without his dedication, commitment and passion.

He has given over three decades of volunteering to the club and is involved today as much as he ever was.

Johnny is loved by all because of his charisma and zest for boxing and life. He is a volunteer with a huge heart who garners the utmost respect from everyone and always makes himself available for training, tournaments, and meetings, even on the dark, wet winter nights.

Johnny is a man you'd want in your corner, in both boxing and life in general. He is caring, kind and compassionate - all the attributes of a fantastic volunteer.

The Volunteers in Sport Awards were created to champion the contribution, commitment and dedication of the army of 450,000 volunteers across the country who go above and beyond by giving their time to Irish sport and physical activity each year. These volunteers dedicate some 37.2 million hours of volunteering across the country’s 13,000 plus sports clubs and associations every year.

Towards the end of 2020, members of the public, as well as sports clubs and governing bodies, were invited to nominate an individual whose contributions to sport has made a real difference to their community, club or county. The nominations and award recipients were selected by a judging panel consisting of 11 individuals drawn from sports administration, the volunteer community and media, including former director general of the GAA, Paraic Duffy, RTÉ broadcaster Marie Crowe and CEO of CARA, Niamh Daffy.

Speaking about the awards, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, Mary O’Connor, said: “Sport plays a central role in the social fabric of every community in Ireland, yet it would not happen at all without the army of volunteers who dedicate their time and expertise across pitches, courts, tracks, pools and community halls across the country. This year, more than ever before, we have seen just how essential the role of the volunteer is in our local communities and to this end, it will be an honour to be able to recognise so many of these volunteers at this week’s virtual Volunteers in Sport awards.

“I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to all of this year’s recipients, and also thank EBS for their amazing support in bringing the awards – and wider recognition – of volunteers in sport in Ireland to life.”

The awards will be streamed live each evening from 7 p.m. on the Federation of Irish Sport’s Facebook page here: with the awards schedule listed below:

Tuesday, January 12th: Leinster and Special Recognition Award

Wednesday, January 13th: Munster, Connacht and Special Recognition Award

Thursday, January 14th: Ulster and Outstanding Achievement Award

For more information on the awards, visit

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