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Eric Cunningham wins the 2019 WJ Paddy Patterson Award E Cunningham Awards - Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th January 2020 Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. 2019 Belfast Telegraph Sport Awards at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast. AWARD 4 NI Sports Forum WJ ÔPADDYÕ PATTERSON SERVICES TO SPORT sponsored by Hastings Hotels Julie Hastings, Marketing Director, Hastings Hotels, Northern Ireland Sports Forum Chairperson, Richard Johnson and Paddy Barnes make a presentation to Eric Cunningham . Full view

Eric Cunningham wins the 2019 WJ Paddy Patterson Award

The 2019 W.J Paddy Patterson Award winner Eric Cunningham has had a long and distinguished service to the game of Hockey.

He has given selfless commitment to the game in Ulster and Ireland for well over 50 years, as a player, umpire, administrator and volunteer.

Eric played for Beechlawn Hockey Club in the 1960s, before it merged with South Antrim Hockey Club in Lisburn in 1972. From then until now has been an integral member of South Antrim hockey Club, playing competitively well into his 70’s but continuing to umpire on a regular basis for the Club’s junior teams.

This year’s winner has been Club Chairman and has held the Club in a financially sound position as their Club Treasurer for well over 30 years and was President of Ulster Hockey Men’s Branch in 2001-2002.

Eric was Treasurer of Ulster Hockey’s Men’s Branch from 2000 – 2009 and was responsible for securing great sponsorship deals for Ulster Hockey through his work as a Financial Director for Guinness, Belfast. When the Men’s and Ladies branches in Ulster Hockey amalgamated in 2009, Eric continued his volunteer role and became Treasurer of the Ulster Hockey Union.

Eric can still be found be found manning the gate, with a smile on his face collecting admission charges and sacrificing his enjoyment of the game so that others were able to enjoy it.

Ulster Hockey owes Eric a tremendous debt of gratitude as he only recently decided to retire from his role with Ulster Hockey’s Management Board. He is continuing as Chairman of the Finance Committee, so there is no doubt that his dedication to South Antrim and Ulster Hockey will remain and he will be seen regularly at matches throughout the Province.

On stage Eric expressed his surprise and pride on winning the award while being interviewed

“When I was at Beechlawn I was able to play for the first team as they only had 10 players,” he said. “We then amalgamated with South Antrim and it’s been very enjoyable. That’s why I’m still there.
“The last time I played a game of hockey, the midfield three had a combined age of 180. Some smart guy said who was the 20 year old.
“I was still umpiring up until last year when I broke my leg but still Treasurer at the club and I still watch the teams on Saturday. I’ll always miss being out there myself.”

 

The 2019 WJ Paddy Patterson Award Winner Eric Cunningham is pictured with Paddy Barnes, Julie Hastings of Hastings Hotel and the NI Sports Forum Chairperson Richard Johnson. Photo by Presseye