Rugby legend Jack Kyle is first to enter Queen’s University’s new sporting Hall of Fame

The annual Blues Awards recognize outstanding athletes and Queen’s alumni.

The Blues Awards have been presented annually at Queen’s for over 70 years to recognize excellence and achievement in sport at the University of Belfast.

This year, the Hall of Fame will be established for the first time to honor and celebrate the most outstanding athletes among the Queen’s alumni. This will now be an integral part of the annual awards.

The Hall of Fame spans seven decades, recognizing outstanding sports figures from every decade since the 1950’s when the Blues Awards were first presented.

The first person to be honored in the 1950s Hall of Fame is Jack Kyle, one of Irish rugby’s all-time greats who became a surgeon after studying medicine. Born in Belfast, who died in 2014, he was voted the greatest Irish player of all time by the IRFU in 2002 and was also inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.

From the 1960s, Gaelic footballer Sean O’Neill – a winner of three All-Ireland titles – as well as Olympic silver medalist and world record-breaking high jumper Thelma Hopkins are honored.

Billy McConnell, Olympic champion and former world record holder for ice hockey caps, is honored as the outstanding athlete of the 1970s. More recently, Billy was a hockey coach at Queen’s.

High jumper Janet Boyle, who won both a silver and bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games and competed in the Olympics, is inducted into the 1980s Hall of Fame.

Rugby player Trevor Ringland, who played for Queen’s from 1978 to 1982, is also being honored for his sporting career in the 1980s, which included representing the British Lions in 1983 and 1986, Ireland from 1981 to 1988 and the Treble in 1982 and 1988 Crown won in 1985. He also took part in the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 and made 31 competitive appearances for Ireland, scoring nine tries.

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As a lawyer and community relations activist, he was also involved in politics and became the US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland in 2021.

For the 1990s, a hat-trick is honored by Queen’s athletes and alumni including Judo Commonwealth Games silver medalist Lisa Bradley, the first Irish woman to climb Mount Everest, Dawson Stelfox and Madeleine Perry, who became a professional squash player in 1998. She holds 15 Irish national titles and is number three in the world.

Dawson Stelfox

dr Lisa Bradley, now Lecturer in Finance at Queen’s University Belfast and Senior Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy, began her competitive career in judo in the 1990s. She won silver at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and was a two-time gold medalist at the World Master Athlete Judo Championships (2006 and 2007).

Richard Archibald, current Director of Sport at NI, rowed at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games and also won a silver medal at the 2005 World Championships and bronze the following year. Richard graduated in architecture from Queen’s College.

The youngest sportswoman to receive an award is Caroline O’Hanlon for both netball and Gaelic women’s football. Caroline studied Medicine at Queen’s and is currently working as a General Practitioner.

Caroline O’Hanlon

​The Blues Awards 2023 will be held tomorrow at 7.30pm at Whitla Hall.

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