DCU awards honorary doctorates to three sporting greats

He is known to many as a genius on a rugby pitch and one of the best players of his generation but now Brian O’Driscoll has a new title: Dr O’Driscoll.

The former Irish captain and record try scorer was in fine form in Dublin City University this morning as he donned a navy gown to pick up a Doctorate of Philosophy, along with former cyclist Seán Kelly and boxer Katie Taylor who was absent from the ceremony due to training commitments.

In his acceptance speech O’Driscoll admitted that he found the new title “a bit bizarre” but felt honoured to receive it. “As someone who plies their trade in a team capacity I wouldn’t say I’m always fully comfortable to be singled out for individual praise but I’m not going to lie to you, this feels pretty good,” he said.

The title is one that is not uncommon in the O’Driscoll family, something the 2009 Lions captain noted. “There are a couple doctors in our house already, but of the medical variety, and I’m sure my sisters are going to be giving me plenty of ribbing about that.”

Also receiving the same doctorate this morning, the highest of which the university can award, was Waterford man Seán Kelly. Speaking to the media prior to the ceremony Kelly said that he “never expected to receive an honour like this.”

Coming from a rural background education was never high on the agenda for Kelly, especially as he dropped out of it completely once he finished primary school.

“I was doing pretty well with school but the first blip I had was that my father got sick when I was at National School so I had to take a bit of time out to look after the farm and after that I lost it completely. I did have regrets and when I was coming to the end of my career I was thinking that it was a pity that I didn’t go on further in my education.”

He did say that he contemplated returning to education after he retired from cycling in 1994 but was “pulled into other things very quickly, like TV commentary”, something he currently does for Eurosport.

Officially ranked as the eighth most successful cyclist of all time, Kelly has been an inspiration to cyclists all around the country for decades. In her citation for the former Vuelta A Espana winner, DCU’s Dr Sarah Ingle described him as “a dominating force during the international cycling races of the 1970s and 1980s.”

Katie Taylor was recognised as “one of Ireland’s greatest Olympians and without doubt the outstanding Irish female athlete of her generation.”

The reigning Olympic, World, European and European Nations Champion was not in attendance at the event but was recognised by both of her fellow recipients, with Sean Kelly saying: “I can only admire the way Katie can go out there and fight, it’s just amazing.”

Ruaidhrí Croke

Image Credit: Marie Lecoq

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