Saffron Business Forum Sports Lunch
By John McIlwaine
The 500 plus guests who attended the Saffron Business Forum annual Sports Lunch on Friday at the Crown Plaza Hotel at Shaw’s Bridge were given a double treat when Guest of Honour Peter Canavan was joined on stage by Kerry legend Kieran ‘Star’ Donaghy and what a double act it turned out to be. Donaghy, who joins Canavan on Sky Sports this weekend for their coverage of the Monaghan v Cavan Ulster Championship game at Breffni Park, just happened to be in Belfast when he received a call from the Tyrone legend and what a pleasant surprise it was for the guests when ‘Star’ dropped by. Chief guest Canavan was interviewed on stage by former Antrim hurling goalkeeper Shane Elliott and former Antrim football star Paul McErlean, and half way through the interview Donaghy was ask if he would like to join them, and the Austin Stacks man duly obliged. I have been at a lot of these lunches over the years but I have to say the chemistry between these two great players produced one of the best interview sessions I have had the pleasure of attending.
Overall it was highly enjoyable day with a range of entertainment on show from members of the All Ireland winning Aghagallon Scor team who with the Maginn School of Irish Dancing. Antrim based Runabay, who later in the evening launched their first album in Belfast, made a guest appearance and sang three songs while MC for the day, the legendary Gerry Donnelly, kept everyone entertained with his wit and wide knowledge of all things GAA.
But the main purpose of the day was to raise funds for Antrim GAA and the whole event, sponsored by Tughans Solicitors, (for whom former Antrim minor full-back and current Cloughmills Junior B full-forward John McGuckian spoke eloquently) was a major success. There was great prizes on offer for the raffle, plus a list of incredible events on up for grabs in the auction, which was expertly conducted by Cushendall auctioneer Danny ‘Dan’ McAlister.
Left – Peter Canavan with John McGuckian of event sponsors Tughans. Centre – Peter Canavan with Tony and Declan Donnelly of Northern Property. Right – Kieran Donaghy with Kevin and James McKeague of Creagh Concrete
Overall a great success for which Tony Shivers, Paul McErlean and their Saffron Business Forum team deserve the highest praise.
Every detail of the event was meticulously planned by the MCE Events team. They worked tirelessly to ensure the sell-out lunch, with over 500 people in attendance on the day, improved upon the high standard set in previous years.