Grant Thornton, the accounting and consultant firm, has announced its intentions to continue its commitment to support third level GAA scholarships.

Students and staff attended an event in the FitzGerald Chamber where Noel Delaney from Grant Thornton reiterated the firm’s continued support of GAA scholarships within UCD.

Dave Billings, UCD GAA Executive, and Dominic O’Keeffe, the Director of Student Services, spoke on behalf of UCD Sport and thanked Noel Delaney for their support of UCD GAA.

Speaking to the University Observer after the event about what makes Grant Thornton so keen to invest in UCD Gaelic Games Executive, Dave Billings noted that it was due to the untimely death of the late Sean Murray, who was a partner in the firm and also founded the UCD Gaelic Football Graduates committee and was its chairman.

“It goes back to Sean [Murray], who was a partner in Grant Thornton and a former UCD player and captain. We decided to honour his memory by establishing one of these scholarships.”

Billings also said that financial support is paramount in terms of students looking to optimise their maximum potential. “Any bit of finance might help the lads by saving them having to get a part-time job for example”.

The GAA Executive of UCD Sport was also keen to note that while still supporting these GAA hopefuls to be the best that they can be, he still outlined they are recognised as being students first, who are here to get their degrees.

“[To play GAA in UCD] you have to be doing a full-time course, you have to get your points and you have to get into the college. Obviously [that] helps you treat your players the best you can, but they are students first and players later.”

Billings also confirmed that Grant Thornton are committed to this investment on an annual basis and stressed that this sort of financial input is integral to the club and it is important that clubs have benefactors that provide such sources of financial support.

Present at the reception were a number of UCD’s current GAA stars including members of the Dublin All-Ireland winning team such as Rory O’Carroll, Paul Mannion, Davy Byrne and Jack Caffrey.

Also present were senior Kilkenny hurlers Cillian Buckley and Walter Walsh along with Tipperary star Noel McGrath and many other well-known names including Paul Kingston, Eoghan Keogh, Joe Lyng and Matt O’Hanlon.