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Looking Back - 25 Years of BLE in Cork



Looking Back - 25 Years of BLE in Cork - Chapter 8 - Personalities

LOOKING BACK - 25 Years of BLE in Cork




looking back 25 years of ble in cork book cover

Chapter 8 - Personalities




The profiles of a number of personalities from the world of athletics are covered in the following pages. Athletes, coaches and administrators are all included. However the list is not comprehensive, and there are many others that ought to be mentioned; for their absence, apologies.


In Order of Appearance

  Terrie Horgan     Mick O'Flynn     Riobard O'Dwyer  
Sean O'Dwyer Eileen Kelly Paddy Moore
John Buckley Michael Kiely   Hughie McSweeney  
Paddy Linehan John Meagher Tadgh Twomey
  Brendan Crowley   Brendan Mooney Cashel Riordan
Dick Hodgins John Sheehan Mattie Murphy
Joy Murphy Michael Haydon Declan O'Donoghue
Ray Shanahan Joe Hartnett Len Braham
Fr. Nessan   Fergus O'Donovan   Fr. Liam Kelleher
John Hartnett Garret Barry Ted Murray
Billy Nestor Marion Lyons Elaine Kelly
  Sandra O'Riordan  
Helen, Kathy & Noreen Linehan  
Patsy Coffey John Dooley Pat Walsh
  Reggie Hayes  



terri horgan mallow dch acTerri Horgan - Mallow AC & DCH AC
Photo from Irish Runner Vol 10 No 2, March-April 1990

In 1974, at the age of seven, TERRIE HORGAN ran her first race in the local Community Games, in Mallow. However it was not until 1979 that she joined Mallow AC, and there was coached by Malachy Downey. Terrie remained with Mallow AC until 1989. During that time she progressed very slowly up the age groups. It was in 1985 that she received her first senior International, and she has been on the National Irish senior team since.

From 1985 onwards, Terrie had set her sights on breaking the Irish Senior long jump record, which then stood at 6.17 metres. She was jumping in and around the six metre mark for a couple of years. Then, on a wet and cold night, at the Cork City Sports, in 1988, the goal was achieved, as Terrie broke the sand at 6.21 metres. A fortnight later, at the National Championships in Santry, she extended it further - to 6.27 metres.

Terri Horgan Sets Irish Record at 1988 Cork City Sports

Terrie had by now spent a year studying Business Studies Recreation and Leisure, at Waterford Regional Technical College. She returned to College in the September, to begin again the long haul of lectures, practicals and training. The goal for 1989 was to qualify for the World Student Games. But disaster struck in early May, when jumping at the College Sports - she injured the jumping foot on 'take off', 'real damage' was done as she had 'torn' the ligaments in the ankle.

Terrie was out of training, from early May until late June, and the preparation for the National Championships in July was minimal. However she was still selected on the Irish Team for the Europa Cup, in Santry. There she was as surprised as anybody else when she broke the National Record with a leap of 6.39 metres to win. Terrie made the team for the World Student Games, and this was one of the highlights of her very brief athletics career to date.

At the end of 1989, Terrie moved to Dublin to work, joining Dublin City Harriers. The 1990 season started quite well - she made the Olympic Panel, and had come within a centimetre of her own Irish Record. She was now under the guidance of Oliver Scully, and was to progress steadily to achieve the Olympic Qualifying standard for Barcelona.

But neither had expected Terrie to run into the problems that occurred in 1991. In January of that year, she complained of a knee problem, and it was not until September that the medical team were able to rectify it. It required having a minor operation on her knee, to remove a 'crust' which had formed on the side of the knee cap, and was preventing her from straightening the knee all season.

The planned progression had been ruined, and she suffered one of her worst seasons to date, being so bad that she could not even bear to be near a running track. She was out for eight weeks after the operation which meant that all the athletes in the group that she trained with had commenced their training - it was such a long road back.

But Terrie made it, and 1992 proved to be the best season date; a new Irish record of 6.48 metres, and a personal best, with a 'windy' 6.51 metres - just four centimetres off the Olympic Standard. She was back on target of achieving the athlete's dream to compete at the Olympic Games. But, to her great disappointment, she was not selected and had to watch them from home, like most of the general public!

The plan for the next three years is to attain the relevent standards for each major Championship, and use them as platform for Atlanta. All this is being supervised by Bruce Longden - coach to Sally Gunnell, winner of the gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics for the 400m Hurdles.

This will mean of course extending her Irish record to greater lengths. However she has been selected for the 1993 World Championships, and so the first 'goal' has been achieved.


Mick O'Flynn


looking back c8 mick o flynn

It is strange sometimes the way small things can influence what we do with our lives. Certainly MICK O'FLYNN's sporting life took a very definite turn, thanks to his English teacher, in Leaving Certificate year of 1965, at Colaiste Chriost Rí.

Mick had been making steady progress with the football team in school, and was part of the very successful Nemo Rangers under-age teams. Athletics at that time was just the occasional run during the summer at some local sports - although he was sprint champion at the Primary Schools back in 1960.

Dick Henchion, the quite spoken English teacher for the Leaving Cert. group of 1965 at the school, got a group together forregular winter training, and there was participation in cross-country, and then preparation for the South Munster Scools Track and Field.

Mick was going well over quarters at the time, and had high hopes of doing well in this event. In order to try and win the overall trophy, Dick Henchion got everyone to 'fill-in' in a second event. The event Mick picked was the hop, step and jump
- it was a decision unimportant at the time, but it shaped his athletic's career over the next 25 years!

At those South Munster Championships the triple jump was in progress when the heats of the 400 were called. Mick was doing well in the triple, so a quick decision was made - one that made him stay and win the triple, leaving Jim Archer to go all out and win the 400. As it transpired, Mick won, Jim won, and the all round trophy was won for Chriost Rí - for the first time.  Mick won the Munster Schools and was fourth in the All-Ireland, in Galway. The bug had bitten! That Summer he joined the newly formed club of Fr. Mathew AC, where Fr Nessan was at the helm. Mick remembers going out to Ovens, one summer evening, for the Cork County Under 18 Championships and won the 100, 200, 400, long and triple jump - a feat he was to repeat a few years later, at the U.C.C. inter-faculty sports. In July 1965, Mick came third in the All Ireland Juniors in Clogher Road, Dublin - the highlight of that day was doing the 'ton' with coach Finbarr Callanan in the hired Zephyr on the
read to Dublin!

It 1966, Mick won his first senior sports prize when, with the aid of a 4 foot handicap, he won the triple jump at the famous Banteer Sports. The Open Sport season around the country in those years were great, and every Sunday everyone looked
forward to the outings at Skibbereen, Bantry, Midleton, Carrigaline, Bweeing, Blarney or the Convamore grounds on the banks of the Blackwater. There you could test your skill on the track, and then cool off by trying the greasy pole
suitably placed over the river!

Those late 'sixties' were great years for his mother, for, although Mick never matched Frank and Bernard in beating Bill Nestor to the gun, or never matched the consistency of Pat O'Shea in the high jump, or Pat O'Riordan in the distance events, he still brought home his share of household goods.

On the National scene, Mick finished third in the Irish Senior, and brought his personal best from 13.82 to 14.03. Riobard O'Dwyer of Ardgroom was a great help to him at this time.

At the Cork County Championships the following year - on a Friday night in the Mardyke, with a crowd of 5,000 people at the meeting he had a double - winning the triple jump with 14,30 and the long jump with 7,08, two personal bests. The Munster Championships - triple jump 14.17, and 440 yards Hurdles followed on, and, in July, he surprised both himself and everyone else by winning the Irish title, with a leap of 14.55,  yet another personal best! The following day he finished second to Cyril O'Regan of Waterford, in the Long Jump.

In 1969, when he finished his studies at UCC, Mick moved to Kilkenny, and, in 1970, to London, where he concentrated on soccer. He was 'capped' for the Irish Universities in 1969, and when, on returning to Kilkenny in 1971, there was a season of senior soccer with St. Patricks Athletic in the League of Ireland. A broken leg in 1973, in a soccer match, focussed his attention on athletics again, and the following winter saw his first serious winter's training. As a result, he finished second to Sean Power in the All Ireland's, with a new personal best of 14.73. In August, he won his first athletics 'cap' - Vs Portugal.

Later that month, in Iceland, he won the Triple Jump, with a personal best of 49'7" - 15.10 metres.

The following years saw even greater successes, which very briefly included winning the 1975 National long and triple jump titles, and, in 1976, there was a personal best of 15.12 metres - twice, in Rieti, Italy & in Limerick. An International until 1982, Mick had the honour of captaining the squad in 1980, and in 1982. His four triple jump titles won successively from 1977 to 1980, and the fact that, between 1974 to 1982 inclusive, he was  either first or second each year, in the National Championships singles him out as among the top athletes in Ireland over past quarter century.

Mick's greatest regret was coming so close, on a number occasions, to the magical 50 foot barrier - 15.24 metres - without breaking it. The lack of competition, particularly in 1976, when he had only three triple jump competitions in the year but was yet over 49 feet feet in all three. Yet the highlights are many in a long and distinguished career - winning the National League with Leevale in 1974, 1975 and 1976. Mick has also a most unusual distinction, that of competing in the Cork City Sports over a 25 year - period - debut in a schools relay in 1961 to his final appearance in 1986, the year of the Russians!

Mick enjoyed many a tussle in his 'early' years with another Cork triple jump legend - Sean O'Dwyer. He was also coached by RIOBARD O'DWYER, the older of the two brothers and another legend in this sphere of jumping.

Related Articles

Kilkenny's fitness in hands of a Corkman - Tom O'Riordan's Irish Independent article, from September 1998

The PM O'Sullivan Interview: Jumping the Great Divide - PM O'Sullivan's Irish Examiner article, from July 2019
Editorial comment: This PM O'Sullivan's article is a great read!

mick oflynn july 1993 irish examiner mick oflynn july 2019 irish examiner




riobard and sean odwyer looking back chapter 8 riobard odwyer


(Following from previous personality, above) Mick (O'Flynn) enjoyed many a tussle in his 'early' years with another Cork triple jump legend - Sean O'Dwyer. He was also coached by RIOBARD O'DWYER, the older of the two brothers, and another legend in this sphere of jumping.

Riobard took seven National Championships in the event - five in a row from 1952 to 1956 inclusive, and again, in 1964 and 1965. From 1952 to 1965, Riobard was only twice out of medals at National level, and that due to injury. Both sets of
statistics must surely form something of a record!

Added to these National successes were considerable triumphs at County and Regional level, and the impressive array of medals include Kerry, Cork and Wexford Championships, to add to Munster and Leinster ones. He has one memory of competing in New Ross, back in 1954, when his final phase took him clear of the pit - and the row of sods at the other end of the sand - into the next field. That jump was a new Wexford County record - one that still stands to this day.

Once his competitive days were concluded, Riobard took up coaching and administration, with much
enthusiasm. He was the National triple and long jump coach, and founded the Ireland branch of the Kangaroo Club. In addition, he can lay claim to introducing women to the event, beginning at national - primary - school level.

Riobard organised National women's triple jump Championships, and he coached Eileen Kelly of Beara and
Margaret Murphy of Ovens to a high level in the event.

Riobard formed Beara Athletic Club, and the club enjoyed tremendous success, especially the women's
cross-country team. In one particular year, Beara AC won every Cork County Championship open to them - senior, intermediate and under age. Eileen Kelly was among the star athletes, and she secured International recognition - in her very first year of competition.

Riobard remembers the 'good old days', when facilities for training and jumping were practically non-existent. Many jumping competitions were held in a field, and uneven ground conditions caused many a 'crocked' ankle.

As a motivator, Riobard has few equals anywhere in the country - it was he who introduced the author of this book to athletics - and how ironic that the author should eventually fill Riobard's role as the National triple jump coach, albeit almost two decades after Riobard eventually called it a day!

Riobard O'Dwyer died on January 22nd 2020 - Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis

Death of Riobard O'Dwyer - Eyeries and Late of Beara AC


Riobard O’Dwyer will be remembered as a Beara great - Southern Star

LAST WORD COLUMN: Riobard O’Dwyer lived a life less ordinary - Southern Star


riobard and sean odwyer looking back chapter 8

Sean O'Dwyer

SEAN, who was Irish record holder in the triple jump from 1963 to 1972, set up his best ever jump of 51'0¼ ~ 15.56 metres at Banteer, in 1970. This jump was unfortunately not recognised as a new Irish record, because the officials forgot to bring the necessary wind-gauge with them!

Sean matched Riobard in his triple exploits, and there were six National successes altogether - on to those of 1961, 1962 and 1963, he added three more in 1966, 1970 and 1971, for a grand total of six. In a twenty year period, therefore, the O'Dwyer brothers were masters on thirteen occasions!

In 1966, he won the high jump and triple jump titles, at the Irish Universities Championships, and, competing for UCD, he won the three jumps against Louvain University. His best performances in 1966 were 15.19 metres, in the triple jump, 7.17 metres, in the long jump, and 1.83 metres, in the high jump. He also won the triple jump in the Tailteann Games at Croke Park in Dublin that very year.

He took 'time off', in 1967, to train the Beara team that won the County senior football Championship, after a lapse of 27 years, with Riobard as goalkeeper on that team. Oone wonders what the brotherly sentiment must have been like!.
Sean competed Internationally for Ireland, in Switzerland, Iceland, the Netherlands and Spain. He increased his Irish record in the triple jump to 15.21 metres, in the European Cup, in Reykjavic, Iceland, in 1970, and captained the Irish track and field team against Spain, in 1971.

After his athletics career he studied and obtained a doctorate in the sports-related Educational Psychology (PhD). At the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984 he read one of his many research papers to the Olympic Scientific Congress.




results 1968 womens international cross country championships blackburn
Results of Inernational Cross-Country Championship, Witton Park, Blackburn, UK, Saturday March 23rd 1968


Eileen Kelly was among those Riobard coached in the late 'sixties, in Beara. Eileen was a great cross-country runner, and won many National, Regional and County titles. She led the Beara team to success in the first County BLE cross-country Championships.

She ran for Ireland, in Blackburn,in March 1968, finishing 29th in the International cross-country Championship. On one memorable occasion a County Board official, who was taking entries, asked of Eileen ... 'club?' ... to which she replied 'Beara'. The response was unexpected ... 'what is that?' Eileen's career may have been brief but it was nonetheless packed with much activity and success.

irish womens team international cross country championships 1968
Irish Team, including placings, at International Cross-Country 1968

the glasgow herald blackburn international cross country 1968
The Glasgow Herald's report on International Cross-Country 1968


Paddy Moore

pat moore leevale ac national masters august 2018 credit piaras o mideach sportsfile

An altogether different career is that of PADDY MOORE, ths genial Leevale man. It was back in 1967 - at his first National - that Pat took a medal, in this case a silver. That came via a throw of just over fifty five metres. It was somewhat unusual then that some twenty five years on - in 1992 - Pat was again among the medals, a bronze, with a throw of just under fifty five metres! This surely must rank as among the top careers that any athlete has enjoyed.

Two years prior to his medal winning performance at the 1967 Nationals, Pat made his first foray at Championship level - this was at the county seniors. Here he was beaten by Der Nugent at Clonakilty. The following year, he reversed the medal positions, and also scored a notable treble, in Lahinch, at the Southern Region juniors - javelin of course, as well as shot and discus.

In 1972, Pat won his first National javelin title, some three years after winning his first senior 'cap'. This was in Dublin, with Spain the opposition. Pat was third, with Limerick man Pat Hartigan fourth. Over the following years, Pat maintained a very high standard, and remained the top javelin thrower in the country, until the arrival of Terry McHugh.

In 1987 Pat 'turned' veteran, and of course became the top javelin 'vet' in Ireland. An over 40 mark of 56.76 metres ensured his name was back in the National record books. His personal best with the javelin, old style, is 67.40 metres, set in 1974. In 1992, Pat moved onto the over 45 category, and quickly established new National figures with the spear - 52.7 metres, at the Eagle Athletic Club throwers meet in August. This mark has this year been upped to over 57 metres, and Pat is still confident of throwing over 60 metres this summer.

His bronze at the 1992 National Championships established something of a record, as he therefore had taken Championship medals in the 'sixties, 'seventies, 'eighties and of course the 'nineties - surely a feat never again to be emulated.



john buckley sonia osullivan 1992 irish runner annual cover

John Buckley on cover of Irish Runner 1992 Annual, with Sonia O'Sullivan


The career of JOHN BUCKLEY is not alone lengthy, but is also quite outstanding. His efforts over the roads, cross-country, and on the track, have coincided with the life of BLE. John has, of course, won every athletics honour in Ireland, and he also has the unusual distinction of having represented Ireland over the roads, and cross-country, and on the track.

At the age of nineteen, he became the youngest ever winner cf the Cork County senior cross-country title, quite anachievement, considering the strength of that particular discipline in the County. He was also the first Corkman to win the Southern Region senior cross-country title, and, indeed, the first Corkman to win the National cross-country Championships. John is also a member of a select band of just three runners who have won the National inter-club and the National inter-county titles in the same year.

John was a member of the first ever BLE team to compete behind what was then the 'Iron Curtain'. Mattie Murphy and Donie Walsh, two other legendary Cork runners, comprised the three man team that ran in Czechoslovakia. During the early years of BLE, John was among the leading runners in the country, yet, however much distinction he attained as a junior, and then a senior, it his exploits as a 'vet' that has truly catapulted John onto the International scene.

John entered the veterans' ranks in 1985, and, that very year, he took quite a scalp in the shape of Olympian Peter Maher. This was in a ten mile road race in Macroom. There was also a sub-50 minute 10 mile - 49:51 to be exact - the same year, and also two medals at the European Veterans' road race Championships - a silver in the 10 kilometre, and a bronze in the 25 kilometres.

In 1986, there was a gold in the veterans' category, in the national marathon, and half marathon. John took a bronze in the European Veterans' track and field Championships, and was also fourth in the marathon, in 2:27, a minute slower than his Dublin run, which constituted the National marathon that year. He rounded off the year with a a run in the New York marathon. Further International marathon running followed in 1988 - in Berlin, where he was second veteran in 2:29, and in Rotterdam the following year, sixth veteran in 2:31. Now in the over 45 classification John took four National veteran titles in 1990 - 15 kilometres, 25 kilometres, half marathon and cross-country, all these titles were regained in 1991, in addition to which he won the 1,500 metres, and 5,000 metres National track titles.

That year was perhaps John's best to date. Two golds were won in the European Veterans' road race Championships. Yet this was only a foretaste of what was to come at the World Veterans' track and field Championships. Held in Turku, Finland John struck gold in the 5,000 metres, and the 10,000 metres, and added further 'gold' through the cross-country, as an individual winner, and as part of the Irish team.

john buckley irish runner seiko awards 1992John Buckley's Seiko Award - from Irish Runner 1992 Annual

In 1992 John took four National veteran titles - 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres on the track, and 15 kilometre and half marathon title on the road. In August, there was further International success, at the World Veterans' road race Championships in Birmingham. Here John took an individual bronze, in the over-45 10 kilometre race, and, as part of the Irish team, took further bronze in the over-40 10 kilometre, and 25 kilometre races.

This is quite a long list of achievements for John to reflect on. However, with his running never better, it is obvious that there is still much to expect from John in the future. Cork has been more than fortunate in the number of veterans who continue to compete at a high level, and to a high standard.



mike kiely hugh mcsweeney irish runner vol 7 no3 may 1991 p44

Among those who can legitimately be described as world class is Eagle Athletic Club's MICHAEL KIELY. In his younger days, Michael travelled throughout the four corners of the world, but has more recently settled in the Blarney area. There is a fond memory of an early meeting with the present County Board secretary, in his early teens, and that remains his earliest involvement with the sport.

With recent personal bests of 54.8 for the quarter, 2:03.0 for the 800 metres and 4:15.0 for the 1,500 metres, Michael is quite capable of holding his own at County, Provincial, and at National level. He is a keen 'traveller', and supports open sports meetings that promote veterans' athletics.

Probably his best successes to date were at the last World Indoor Championships. These were held in Budapest, Hungary, and Michael returned home with two golds and a silver - all in the over 45 category. The silver came via the 400 metres, and the two golds were in the 800 metres and the 1,500 metres. Thus Michael in the one Championships proved to one and all his supremacy on the European stage in the middle distance events in the over 45 classification.

A hard winter's training last year saw Michael in great form this summer, and he has been regularly under the 2:10.0 mark for the 800 metres.


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Extracted Cork Results from Athletics Ireland National Masters Indoor T&F Championships 2018





mike kiely hugh mcsweeney irish runner vol 7 no3 may 1991 p44

Another excellent veteran athlete at 'Eagle' is the well known sprinter and jumper, HUGHIE McSWEENEY. Hughie is a 'new comer' to the world of athletics, but yet he has already enjoyed tremendous success. Being quite the all-rounder that he is, Hughie will think nothing of competing in the longer sprints - the 400 metres inclusive - or something as completely opposite as the shot putt. Hughie is at present in the over 45 category, and has come to dominate his events Nationally.

Last year, Hughie set something of a record in his Championship medal winning performances. In early May, there was triple gold in the 100 metres, 200 metres and long jump, at the County 'vets'. In June, he repeated the feat at the Southern Region Championships, and, a month later, at the Nationals in Waterford, Hughie took gold in the same three events!

On the International front, Hughie was just out of the medals at the last World 'vets', held in Oregan, in the United States, back in 1990. The following year, he travelled to the World Indoors in Budapest - in the company of Mick Kiely - and took bronzes in the 60 metre dash, and the 200 metres. He was also fourth in the long jump.

Hughie's best for the 100 metres is 11.6, and he has a 24.4 clocking for the 200 metres. His best for the 400 metres is 56 seconds, but he feels he can go much quicker over this distance. His personal best in the long jump is in excess of six metres, which is quite some jumping for his age.




looking back c8 paddy linehan michael sheehan a

Interested spectators, on this occasion, and authorities on the sport, Michael Sheehan and Paddy Linehan (right)


Another stalwart at Eagle AC is PADDY LINEHAN the well known coach and official. At the club he enjoys tremendous success with the throws - in particular the shot, hammer and the 56 pound weight events, where he coaches many a thrower to National success.

Paddy's three daughters, Helen, Kathy and Noreen have dominated the local and regional athletics scene over the past decade. Helen had particular success with the shot and javelin, but was also a race walker of National standing. Kathy was a sprinter and hurdler, and a capable shot putter. Noreen is something of an all-rounder, but has a particular liking for the hammer, an event in which she excels. Over the past number of years she has placed National, Championships, and, this year, secured International recognition, when that event was included on the Cork City Sports programme for the very first time.

However Paddy's successes have not been confined to the family. Among his more noted charges is Colm Murphy, who had bests in the early 'eighties of 51.18 metres in the discus, and 14.86 metres in the shot. After retiring for a decade, Paddy convinced Colm to return to the competitive fold, and a 7.44 metre best in the 56 pound for distance was recorded in recent months. Paul Lynch and Seamus Manning were former Eagle members, with both sending the hammer in excess of 40 metres, under Paddy's tutelage. Pat O'Leary was yet another excellent all-round thrower before illness prevented further success.

At the present, Paddy has yet another fine collection of throwers under his care; Johnathan McSweeney is among the top junior shot putters in the country at present, and both Tim O'Herlihy, discus, and Martin O'Sullivan, hammer, can expect to attain standards which will attract the attention of the athletics observer.

Besides coaching, Paddy is also well known for his officiating capabilities. He is a regular at the National Championships, and it was he who placed that marker at 86.46 metres, when Yuri Sedykh broke the World hammer record, at the 1984 City Sports. In his younger days, Paddy was a noted cyclist, and won many a County and Regional Championship, and was a regular on the County sports circuit. Injury put an early end to his competitive cycling pursuits, thereby releasing a youthful enthusiast into the area of athletics. That enthusiasm still permeates through all his endeavours, and is passed onto those he coaches. The throwers at Eagle, both young and not so young, continue this exuberance for athletics.



 looking back 25 years of ble in cork chapter 8 cork coaches page 129

Cork coaches at a National session at the indoor complex in Nenagh, 1992; from left, Colm Murphy, then National discus coach, John Sheehan, Declan O'Donoghue, then National throws coach, and John Meagher


Another to benefit from Paddy's expertise is Blarney/Inniscarra man JOHN MEAGHER. A native of Nenagh, John came to Cork two decades ago. In younger years athletics did not play a significant part in his life, except for the odd run in the school cross-country team, which, at the time, participation was considered compulsory.

John became involved in the sport in 1982, as a parent, when his two children joined the local athletic club Blarney/Inniscarra AC. Here he took an interest in coaching, and under the watchful eye of the then club member, Paddy Linehan, he was taught the discipline of coaching athletics in the throws. Luckily, at the time, there happened to be an'active' coach training programme in progress. Seeing this, John joined up. On completion of the course, which included examinations, he qualified as a junior coach, and, later, after a further course and examination, he became an intermediate coach.

John has enjoyed many successes as a coach since then, and was selected as a coach/manager to 'the Irish team for the Celtic International in 1992.

John is, however, almost as well known in the administrative side of the sport. In September 1984, he attended a BLOE County Board AGM for the first time, and was tipped in at the 'deep end', when elected competition secretary, in succession to Mick Quinlan of Bandon. He was to hold that post until 1990. During his tenure he ensured the 'stream lining' of the County track & field and cross-country Championships. Meet times were brought down to an acceptable standard, and public safety was improved. In 1990 he resigned from this post, and was subsequently nominated for the post of National registrar.

John was duly elected and has remained in this post for the past three years.



tadhg twomey photoTadgh Twomey


Of throwers, few have been as successful in recent times as the legendary TADGH TWOMEY excelled in many sports - gaelic games, boxing, rugby and of course athletics; and, within the latter, he was a magnificent all rounder. Yet his name is associated more with the 56 pound weight than any other endeavour.

His interest in sport grew from watching the annual Ballinspittle sports, where the weight throwing attracted his attention. Tadgh had his own weight at home, and practised with this, until, in 1958, he was ready for competition, and duly took his first county medal at Glenville.

Tadgh fell under the guidance of the legendary George Bennett in 1959, and, after a foray in the boxing ring, - there was an Irish silver Championship medal - he turned his full attention to athletics. In 1960, there was the first of no less than 33 National Championship medals for weight throwing.

The full list of Tadgh's stupendous achievements have never been chronicled properly. But there is no disputing the fact that, throughout the 'sixties' and 'seventies', he was the undisputed king of the 56 pound events.

Unfortunately for Tadgh, records have been elusive - not because he missed out on the 'big throws', but because of other variables that precluded acceptance at National level. Back in 1964 - when a member of Knocknacurra - he lobbed the 56 pound weight up over the 4.72 mark, at the National Championships in Gorey, and followed this up with another great heave at the Ballinspittle sports, the following year, to break the 1943 Ned Tobin national mark of 4.70. Both of these marks were never to be 'officially' recognised due to 'technical irregularities'. Tobin's mark then was to last for thirty seven years, until 1970, when, at Banteer, Tadgh 'officially' hoisted the 56 pound weight over the bar set at 4.75. His personal best was a further three inches higher, at 4.82, set at the 1975 National Championships held in Belfield.

The 56 pound for distance mark eluded him, although there was a great heave of 9.31, at Brosna, but this mark too was never 'officially' accepted as a national mark. One great story of Tadgh relates to an incident in the mid 'seventies', when his throwing hand was injured. He duly threw the weight with his left hand and still took Munster and National medals!
In addition to his prowess with the 56 pound for weight events, Tadgh also collected medals at County, Provincial and National levels in the high and triple jumps - his best being over 6 feet - 1.83 and 14.32 metres respectively.

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brendan crowley cork sports partnership a

 Brendan Crowley

A fellow Bandon AC man to secure fame at around the time of Tadgh's height was BRENDAN CROWLEY. Brendan was a member of the St Patrick's AC team that won the inaugural County under-14 cross-country, at Ballymartle, in 1964. By the early 'seventies', he was realising his full potential as a star athlete, and started the decade off through winning the Con O'Callaghan Cup, for the best all-round athlete, at the West Cork Championships. There followed the Con Cashman cup, for the best athlete at the County Novice.

At the same time, he was delving into the world of administration, as he became secretary of the West Cork Board. He remained in that post until 1975, when replaced by Carmel (Harrington) Maher. In addition, he was PRO of Bandon AC at the time. Yet his forays into the competitive world of athletiics were proving successful. There were gold and silver sprint and quarter medals at Southern Region level, in 1973, and a silver at the National Juniors.

By now he was at UCC, and was a member of some very successful relay teams at the College. He was third at the National Championship, in the 400 metres, in 1974, the same year he collected his first International 'cap'. Through the mid-seventies he continued to be placed in the 200 and 400 metres, at County and Regional Championships.

In 1975 he was elected secretary of the Bandon club, and two years later he followed Donie Duggan of Carrignavar as secretary of the Cork County Board. This was under the chairmanship of Paddy Hartnett, Midleton. Brendan continued in office until 1987, as Paddy was succeeded by Reg Hayes - for two terms - and Mick Dooley. Thus Brendan was secretary when many of the well known events of the County Board were established - the County Leagues, the Cork City Marathon and the EVENING ECHO Ladies' mini-marathon.

After retiring as County Board Secretary, there followed a 'brief' respite, until he once again took the post of secretary to Bandon AC. Brendan is a regular at all County Board events, and is always assisting whenever and wherever required.




brendan mooney

Brendan Mooney

A contemporary of Brendan, both at the time, and in the 400 metres, was BRENDAN MOONEY. Brendan was of course yet another great quarter sprinter, at a time in Cork when winning the County Championship was as difficult, if not more so, than the Nationals. Yet Brendan maintained his standard and recorded several sub-49 second quarters, in a career that took in the late 'sixties' and 'seventies'.

There were many County, Regional and National medals, and many an exciting tussle, with such as Fanahan McSweeney, at the City Sports. His involvement in athletics ensured that the sport was more than adequately 'covered' in the CORK EXAMINER, where Brendan continues to give athletics some excellent footage.



looking back 25 years of ble in cork chapter 8 cashel riordanCashel Riordan

Yet another of the outstanding 400 metre athletes of the 'sixties' and early 'seventies' was CASHEL RIORDAN, a figure even better known these days in his guise as a starter of many a programme, from County to National level.

In his school days at CBC, and later at UCC, Cashel concentrated on the 100 yards, 220 yards, high hurdles and high jump. Success was early, as at the age of 16,Cashel took a silver, 100 yards, and a bronze, 220 yards, in the Irish Schools Intermediate Boys' category. There followed further successes at senior Schools' level, before going to UCC, and competing in senior athletics.

Cashel was on the UCC O'Sullivan Cup - Inter-Varsity track and field Championships - winning squad of 1958. This was the last time that the Cork students won this title, and, in those Championships, Cashel won two silvers, in the 100 yards and the 220 yards.

1961 and 1962 were very successful years, with gold medal performances in the 220 yards, and 440 yards as well - as the odd foray over the 100 yards - at County, Regional, National and Inter-Varsity Championships, and a 440 yard winning performance, at the Cork City Sports. He was also selected for the World Student Games, in Sofia, that year, but Cashel never did get to challenge the best over the quarter, as there were accreditation difficulties - the long standing political situation in the sport deprived him of the chance of competing at this level.

It should be added, that the strength of 440 yard/400 metre running in the county, was never higher than in this era. Between 1952 and 1961, the National 440 yard title was won by one of just four athletes - Tom Cavanagh, Charlie Vaughan, Jim McKenna and Cashel Riordan - all of whom were from Cork. Following on, of course, there was Fanahan McSweeney, Brendan Mooney, Maurice Power, Brendan Crowley and Mick Dooley, to name but a few, and all from Cork City or County! Cashel retained his National 440 yard title in 1962, and again won over that distance, at the City Sports. As well, of course, he retained Munster and Cork County 220 and 440 yard titles. The following year, in May, he retired from competitive athletics, after taking gold in the Inter-Varsity 100 and 440 yards, and a silver in the 220 yards.

There followed a move to Canada, but retirement was somewhat brief, as he again competed in 1965, taking medals in the Eastern Canadian Championships, with Toronto Striders, and also being on the 4 x 110 yards quartet that placed sixth in the USA Championships. The following winter, Cashel was selected for the Eastern Canada team that took on the West of the country. He was also a finalist in the Canadian indoor Championships.

From Canada, Cashel moved to Birmingham, in May 1966, and at the National - Irish - Championships, in Banteer, he struck gold, in the 220 yards, and the 440 yards. Cashel really stole the limelight, as his 440 was run in record time - 49.0, which equates to 48.7 for the 400 metres. For good measure, he ran a new National record time in the heats of the 220 yards, and followed up with an even faster run in the final, clocking 22.0 - equating to 21.9 for the 200 metres.

Cashel also made a triumphant return to the City Sports that year, taking the 400 yards with some ease. Throughout that Summer, he also competed in England with Birchfield Harriers, taking a bronze in the AAA Championships, as a member of the club's 4 x 440 yard team.

A return to Cork followed in December, and, in 1967, Cashel again dominated the 440 yards nationally. He was selected on the first BLE National team to represent Ireland. This was in the Europa Cup, with Santry Stadium, in Dublin, the venue. Cashel was on the 4 x 100 metres and 4 x 400 metres squads, and was also reserve for the individual 400 metres. This, for Cashel, was the highlight of his athletics' career.

There were again Championship medals in 1968, and Cashel was on the St Finbarr's team that won the very first - BLE - National 4 x 100 metres relay. The following year, Cashel was back in England, and as a member of Ilford AC, Essex, he ran extensively in the London and Home Counties regions, taking many County medals in the process, in the colours of his new club.

In 1970 he returned to Cork, and won the Southern Region 400 metre hurdles title - a new venture. This however was the final medal winning performance of what was a long and very illustrious career. In the years since, Cashel has run in several marathons, including the first two Dublin and the very first London marathons. He also took part in the Clonliffe '20', the Killarney half marathon, and the classic fifteen miler from Cork to Cobh.

He was a regular at coaching sessions in the late 'sixties' and 'seventies' in the Cork area, passing on his experience and knowledge to the next generation of sprinters in the county and province. As a starter he is a regular on the athletic scene - at local County, Regional and at National level. He is the current All-Ireland School's starter, as well as a regular at the Cork City Sports. Here again his expertise and experierience as a sprinter is brought very much into play, as Cashel very much appreciates the requirements, attitude and patience required of the sprinter in this area of his/her endeavour.

One of the all-time greats of Irish sprinting, Cashel continues to be a great servant of the sport. With his white cap, he provides a vital service through his role as starter. His understanding of athletics singles him out as a keen observer of the sport, and, of course, his historical knowledge has already resulted in published works.


Related Articles

Cashel Riordan's IUAA Profile

Atheletics Ireland Tribute to Late Cashel Riordan



looking back 7 middle and long distance greats

Middle and long distance 'greats'; from left, Dick Hodgins, Marcus O'Sullivan and Donie Walsh


DICK HODGINS of Leevale was another active athlete wh0 continues to give great service to the sport. An International from 1965 until 1981 inclusive, Dick has, over the past number of years, coached many an athlete to the same high standard.

It was on a warm July night in 1963, at the Cork City Sports, on the Mardyke old grass track, that the holder Terry O'Connor struck for home at the bell, opening up a 10 metre lead, and well on his way to retaining his Irish 1,500 metre title. He still led by 10 metres entering the home straight, but suddenly a young Corkman accelerated with even greater speed, closed the gap rapidly, and hit into the winning tape a foot ahead of the Dublin man, to win his first title. Dick Hodgins had arrived on the National scene, and in the next twelve years was to win 14 National titles in all.

If the first Championship win was the closest, the final outing was ironically the easiest. The National marathon title in 1975 in a fast 2:18:43, winning, by a full minute, from one of the best National finals assembled for the classic distance. Over the intervening years, Hodgins took on the worlds best, first at 1,500 metres, then over 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres, and, finally, over the marathon. Very few Irish runners had such a wide range of events at a high performance level. Titles were won over all the distances, in addition to 3 in a row 15 mile road National titles, culminating in a fantastic 71 minutes 43 seconds record, over the old Cork to Cobh course, in 1969, which was the worlds fastest time that year nearly 20 seconds faster than the Ron Hill best, then the World's number one marathon runner.

Over a long competitive career, Dick set a number of notable records. As a schoolboy, he was the first Cork boy to break 5 minutes for the mile, when he won the South Munster track title in 4 minutes 48 seconds, breaking the old record of 5:05, at the Dyke. In 1967, he became the first Irish Champion, and first race winner under BLE rules, when he annexed the 15 mile road title over the Cork/Cobh course, on which he was almost unbeatable at the sprint. His debut over this distance, 2 years earlier, came it about in rather unusual circumstances. Arriving at the Mardyke to run a mile race he discovered that the meeting was cancelled, due to flooding, so, having eased off training for a few days, he opted to run the Cobh race instead, and easily won the event in a shade over 75 minutes. He repeated this success in 1967 and 1969, apart from National title wins in 1967, 1968 and 1969.

During this period he also raced over 5,000 metres, in the Europa Cup, in what was BLE's first track and field
International, and made over 20 International appearances.

On the old Santry cinder track, he served notice of his marathon potentia,l by winning the Irish 10 mile title in 48:48. His International marathon debut, in Spain, in 1969, was dramatic, for he finished a close 2nd in 2:25:02, behind Mamo Wolde, the Olympic Champion who won in 2:24:51. Three days exertion at Santry, Dick had won 10,000 metres, in 29:29, in an International against Switzerland, where he was one of only three Irish winners. He won 3 of his 4 10,000 metres International races, a unique record for an Irish athlete at that time.

In 20 marathon races, mostly abroad, in the major International venues at Kosice, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Enschede, Prague, Pilsen, he was in the 2:19/2:22 range, and represented Ireland at senior level until 1981, when he captained the Irish team. His first marathon was the National Championship, in Cork, in 1984, when he won the 'vets’ table in 2:31.

Since retiring, he has successfully turned to coaching, and, over the past four years, has coached the highly successful Leevale junior distance runners, who have dominated the National Championships. Apart from coaching, Dick is the current meeting director of the famed Cork City Sports.

Related Articles


Michael Moynihan's Irish Examiner Tribute to Dick Hodgins




looking back 25 years of ble in cork chapter 8 john sheehan
Another well known coach at Leevale is JOHN SHEEHAN, who is also the current chairman of the club. John has been coaching for over a decade now. His interest with athletics began at the 'North Mon', where he was on the cross-country team. Other sports attracted him initially, and he played hurling with Glen Rovers, and rowed with Shandon BC. He was also a keen enthusiast of gymnastics, before settling with athletics and sprinting.

Over the years, many a successful sprinter has come through his care, and the present generation promises much. His coaching expertise continues the tradition of the club, where Finbarr O'Brien was once supreme. This past year, John organised several coaching courses in his particular field, at which Ciaran Coakley, the National Coach, was also in attendance.

Related Articles

John Sheehan named Athletics Person of the Month



looking back 25 years of ble in cork chapter 8 mattie murphyMATTIE MURPHY, a one time contemporary of Dick's, was born near Ballinhassig. He joined the local athletic club - Rising Sun - but success was very slow in coming at first. He won a few novice prizes, and a few novice Championships, until he was eventually promoted to the senior grade. This proved to be the start of a great career, which included several International appearances for Ireland, eight Irish Championship titles, and many Munster and Cork County Championships.
His first major success came in the five mile Munster Championship, held in conjunction with the Rising Sun sports, in Kinsale. Here he won, defeating none other than his own clubmate, and favourite, Willie Webb. Thus followed a great career with eight National titles in all.

His greatest year was, perhaps, 1967. For the second time in his career, and as captain, he brought the General O'Duffy Cup home to Cork, for the All-Ireland senior cross-country Championship. He won the Cork County senior cross-country, was second in the Munsters, and third in the Nationals. He won the first BLE track National Championship, 10 mile, at Santry, and ran second to Chris Perry, over 5,000 metres, at the Cork City Sports, breaking the fourteen minute mark for the first time in his career. He also won the Army three mile Championship, in a new record time, to add to his growing collection of medals.

In September of that year, he - together with Donie Walsh of Leevale and John Buckley of St Finbarr's - ran for Ireland in Czechoslovakia. This was the first BLE team to compete Internationally overseas. The following year, there were further Internationals in Spain, Tunisia and England, the event in Tunis being the International cross-country Championships. In 1969, he was on the Irish Army team that took the silver in the International army cross-country Championships. Later that year he won the 5,000 meters for Ireland, in the match against the Swiss.

There were further successes in 1970, including the Cork to Cobh fifteen miler, and he was on the Irish team that competed in the International cross-country in Vichy, France. In June be ran in an International in Italy, and, during the course of this race, he injured his leg. Unfortunately the injury did not respond to treatment, and so ended a great athletics career.




joy murphy

A namesake, but no relation, was JOY MURPHY, one of Ireland's outstanding athletes in the 'eighties'. Joy began her career, at the age of 13, with Riverstick AC, and immediately showed her potential as a future Champion. She subsequently moved to Bandon AC, when she was 16 years old, and then to St. Finbarrs the following year. In later years she competed with Leevale AC. At Rochelle, Joy won many an All-Ireland Colleges' title.

During her senior career, Joy won over thirty National medals, 25 Munster Championships Medals, and almost fifty Cork County Championship medals. She was the Irish Women's senior long jump Champion on no less than six occasions. Joy was also the National record holder in the pentathlon, and when that event fell into abeyance, she became the first holder of the record in the heptathlon. In all, Joy held the National record in both these multi-events for over five years, in the early 'eighties'.  She was the second Irish woman ever to exceed the magical six metre mark in the long jump, and came within an inch of the ten year old Irish Record set by Margaret Murphy in 1971, with a mighty leap of 6.02 metres.

Joy competed in other European countries, for Ireland, of course, on nine occasions - the most prestigious being the Europa Cup, when the opposition came from Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic. Her athletic ability was recognized at a more 'local' level, through being awarded the West Cork Sports Star of the Year award on no less than three occasions - in 1978, 1981 and 1982. Quite an achievement in itself, reflecting the standing she had in the world of sport.

Joy met her husband, Tom, at an athletics meeting in County Tipperary, where both were competing. Tom was also very involved in athletics, and won National medals in the walks. Joy has now retired from serious athletics, and divides her time between her family, a thriving Sports Trophy Business, along with some tennis, and a little bit of jogging.



looking back c8 michael haydon

MICHAEL HAYDON, another from that part of the County, ranks among the most colourful, learned and popular athletics officials in Ireland. A man with a sharp tongue, and a keen wit, Michael is never short of a word on any topic, but especially the world of athletics. He is now enjoying a well earned retirement, after a most distinguished career. As an official in the Department of Finance, he reached the very top in that chosen career. He now devotes much of his time to his beautiful garden, and to his beloved athletics.

In the hallowed days of Irish athletics - back in the 'forties', Michael was a driving force behind the Civil Service Athletic Club, both as an athlete, and administrator. This involved not only competing, but also organising many sports meetings in Dublin, in which household names such as Kelly, Barry, Guiney, Downey, O'Brien, Flanagan, Wall - all National Champions competed. In 1946, he was transferred from Dublin to Lecithin, where he played junior hurling with the county, as well as being a handballer of no mean standard.

On his return to his native county, in 1970, he came to live in Bandon. His active involvement in athletics was rekindled, and he again made his services available as a coach, officer and adviser. He was among those behind the success of the club in the 'seventies', when the County Graded Leagues were won on numerous occasions, and Bandon athletes were very much to the fore.

His expertise in the coaching area covered all facets of the sport, from sprints to the jumps, but in particular his enthusiasm for weight throwing ensured that the club had among the best in the country, in the late 'seventies' and early 'eighties'. Like any great coach, he did not confine his interest to Bandon athletes alone, and many athletes from other clubs in the county availed of his generosity and advice.

During this time, he also served the County Board well. He was involved in the development of track and field, during the Hayes and Dooley regimes, and became a specialist on bye-laws. His advice was always most welcome. Michael is perhaps best known nationally as a most eloquent and learned speaker at National Congresses, where his witty and entertaining oratory style always draws applause from the delegates.

Michael is indeed the father figure in the athletic scene today, and is still coach to Paul Kelleher, and several other athletes scattered around the country, who regularly come to Bandon for coaching weekends.



looking back 25 years of ble in cork chapter 8 declan o donoghue

In the area of coaching, there are few in the country with the same expertise as DECLAN O'DONOGHUE, a native of the College Road area of the City. He was educated at Sullivan's Quay CBS, and completed his studies at UCC, where he was a regular on the University rowing team.

Declan began coaching athletics in the late 'sixties', concentrating mainly on the technical events. He qualified as a coach at the Summer School of Athletics in Belfield, and also at Loughborough, in England. Besides coaching at St. Munchin's, he also is heavily involved with Limerick Athletic Club. In 1976, Declan became Director of Coaching for BLE, thereby having responsibility for the overall National coaching structure. In 1984, he became the National Coach for the Throwing Events, a post he was to fill for almost a decade. In more recent years, he was appointed the Schools' Munster Coaching co-ordinator - a post he fills with much enthusiasm and vigour.

Overseas jaunts have included the European Track & Field Championships in 1986, where he was the field events coach to the Irish team, and, in 1988, he was in charge of the Olympic Squad, at the Games in Seoul.

Over the years, Declan has been coach to many an Irish record holder, from such diverse events as the high jump, javelin, pole vault and multi-events. Niall O'Shaughnessy, Frank O'Meara, Barry Walsh, Brid Hallissey, Brenda Walsh, Margaret Crosse and Mary T Real are among the athletes he has coached to prominence over the many years he has been involved in the sport.

Declan is well known on the National athletics scene, and, during the year, he is a regular Cork visitor, whether in his guise as coach, or official. Besides coaching Declan is well up on rules and regulations, and is the field judge at the Cork City Sports, where his expertise is frequently called upon to arbitrate on matters pertaining to the 'field'.



ray shanahan 1991

The current Chairman of the Cork City Sports Committee is RAY SHANAHAN. It was in his last year studying for a Law Degree at UCC that some friends persuaded Ray to go training with the College Athletic Club. There followed a most successful career on the track, as Ray established himself among the top middle distance men of the country in the mid to late 'eighties'.

At the 1983 Inter-Varsity Championships, at Belfast, Ray, running his third ever 800 metres race, broke the two minute barrier - clocking a very respectable 1:52.9. International selection followed two years later, when he ran in the 'green' vest in Edinburgh. There were further International 'calls', and Ray went on to compete in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Spain, and in England of course.

Ray was a twice winner of the National Indoor 1,500 metre title, and was runner-up, on no less than four occasions, in the National 800 metres - twice to Leevale club-mate Marcus O'Sullivan. During this time, he won numerous County and Southern Region titles over 400 metres, 800 metres and 1,500 metres. His personal best of 1:48.80 was set, very appropriately, at the Cork City Sports. Recurring hamstring problems forced an early retirement, in 1989, and an illustrious career on the track had prematurely ended.

Ray commenced coaching at the UCC Athletics Club in 1984. Successes followed over the years, culminating this past season with the women's squad capturing four Inter-Varsity Championships - an unprecedented achievement, rendered all the more remarkable by the variety of these Championships. The success of the women's team in the National cross-country Championship 'B' section, and the National Relays, were the first for the Club, at National Senior Level, since the mid 'seventies. Ray is currently the National Coach for the 800 metres and 1,500 metres, having been appointed in 1992. He served as manager to the Irish Universities Cross-Country Championships, in Dijon, France, in 1992, and was re-appointed to that position for the 1994 Championships to be held in Limerick.

Following the cancellation of the Cork City Sports for two years - in 1989 and 1990 - Ray assumed the position of Chairman of the Cork City Sports Committee in 1991. He re-established the Meet as the primary event on the Irish athletic calendar. Under his stewardship, the Committee forged closer links with BLE, and included a triangular International within the traditional structure of the Meet. The three International teams for the past two years have been Russia, Southern England AA, and of course Ireland.



joe hartnett meet director cork city sports


Another University athlete of that particular time was JOE HARTNETT. Joe made a late start in athletics, back in 1972. This was through the encouragement of Rev. John Jones, who was also responsible for the careers of a number of other future Internationals, including Tim Crowe. In 1974, Joe won the North Munster Colleges senior 5,000, and was second in the 2,000 metres steeplechase. At Munster level, he finished second in the steeplechase, and 3rd in 5,000, to John Trace. He was also second in Munster, that year, in the Colleges cross-country.

In September, he started his studies in Thomond College, and competed at Inter-Varsity competitions without success, until 1977. In that year, he was well in front in the steeplechase when he fell at the water jump, breaking his right leg in two places! This necessitated 14 weeks in plaster.

After six months training in intense pain, he competed at the next Inter-Varsity in Belfast, and this time won the steeplechase, in 9:09.8. In June that year, he competed for the Irish Universities Vs President's selection, finishing second in the steeplechase. This earned him a place on the Irish team for the Welsh Games - against Wales and Holland.
A month later, at the National Championships in Belfield, and in the steeplechase, he broke his left leg, at the last water jump, when well in the lead, seriously damaging the ligaments in his ankle. However He picked himself up and, having been passed on the straight, he went on to finish third!

It took him three years to recover from this particular injury, during which time he moved to Cork, and joined St. Finbarr's AC - with whom he was to train with and run for the remainder of his career. His next major outing was at the Nationals in 1981, when he finished third behind Liam O'Brien. The following year he finished ahead of Liam O'Brien, but behind Brendan Quinn, at the Nationals.

In 1983, after doing a lot of heavy early season training, he finished a tired second to Liam O'Brien, in a personal best time 8:42, at the national championships. The following year though, was to see the major breakthrough.
It was to be his best season to date. There was a 48:59 ten mile time, at Ballycotton, in March. He was strong, and opened the season with a 8:37.8. timing for the steeplechase, to beat Liam O'Brien, at the International trials. This was the third fastest time ever by an Irishman.

Both Liam and Joe competed at the AAA Championships that summer. Liam went on to finish fourth, and gain an Olympic qualifying time. Joe finished two places behind, but off the required time. At the Nationals, a three man race developed to secure the required time. But, due to a very slow 600 metres in the middle of the race, Joe clocked 8:35 - four seconds off!
That was to be his last season, as, in early season training, in 1985, Joe developed a serious injury to his left arch, due to stress on his left foot. However, despite his many successes, few doubt that Joe never did fulfil his full potential.



len braham donoughmore 1974

Len Braham throwing in Donoughmore, 1974


Another St Finbarr's man was the great LEN BRAHAM who has been very much to the fore in Irish throwing over the past twenty five years. Len made the discus very much his own, and his 56 pound throw for distance reached new ground, when he lobbed the weight over thirty feet, thereby breaking the then National record of the legendary Neb Tobin.

Originally from Cloyne, Len was rather a late comer to the sport, and as such, is testament to what hard work and enthusiasm will achieve. It was back in 1962, when already 28, that Len competed in his first ever athletics competition - the Cork County decathlon. These were held that year in Rochestown College, and that great Leevale supremo Father Nessan advised Len to take up the discus, as he showed much promise. Len took the advice, and so began an astonishing athletics career. That decathlon earned Len a bronze medal - the first of many medals.

A year later, the presence and capabilities of that great thrower Hugh O'Callaghan, at the Cork county track and field Championships, impressed so much on Len, that the relative novice was keen to get down to serious training, to emulate the son of the dual Olympic medallist. Len's first tilt at county Championships saw him compete at the 100 yards, 220 yards, long jump and 56 pound for distance. No shot, discus or hammer asyet. At that, Len threw a meagre 20 feet in the 56 pound for distance - certainly no indication of what was to follow in the succeeding years.

Len's first International was down in Waterford. Iceland were the opposition, and Len was throwing the discus. In 1971, Len fell under the influence of the great German discus coach, Peter Chierne. Peter was highly impressed with Len's upper body strength, and the fact that he could throw overweight implements with great vigour. However technique was quite basic, and distance, as a consequence was being lost. With the Olympic Games a year away, there remained the possibility of what would have been an astonishing Olympic appearance - amazing for someone who had come to the sport so late in life.

The Olympic Games of 1972 beckoned, but Len fell agonisingly short of the necessary qualifying mark, as he upped continually the National record in the discipline, but could not make that final breakthrough to the qualifying standard.
The 1973 National Championships will always remain among Len's treasured memories. There was gold in the discus, and the 56 for distance, and the hammer, which gave him his most treasured memory. With the last round nearing completion, Len pulled out the winning throw, to beat Phil Conway and Bernie Hartigan. There was an extra medal - a silver in the 56 over the bar, to add to the haul.

In 1974, the first veterans' World Championships were scheduled for Toronto in Canada. The over 40 discus, the event and category, which Len would have surely competed in, had he gone, was won with a rather meagre 47 metres, a distance that Len was easily surpassing at every competition in Ireland that very year. However for a number of reasons Len did not travel - the second major disappointment in two years.

Yet in all this, it was at Castleisland, in 1973, that Len entered the record books in a very special way, and thus immortalise him as one of the greats of Irish throwers. For the first time, the magical thirty foot barrier was broken - 30 feet and half an inch to be exact. The 56 pound record throw was measured by none other than Paud Murphy, of the Southern Region Board, and the late Danny Nelligan, father of the all-time Kerry great, Charlie Nelligan. It being a measured record, the distance had to be taken in metres, which surely must have been the first such record for the event done in metric distance, and so the new mark was 9.15 metres.

In 1985, Len made a rather brief return to competitive athletics, and, in the space of a few months, set new veteran National figures in the shot, discus, and both 56 for distance and height. Such was his quality of performance, that Len actually figured in the final shake up for medals in three of these events, at the National senior track and field Championships that year. This past summer, Len made a second comeback, and duly set National veteran bests for many of the throws. Again he figured prominently at County and Regional senior level, and threw the 56 pound weight at the Cork City Sports. Surely among the most talented of Irish throwers, if not athletes in general.


Fr Nessan

fr nessan shaw

Fr. Nessan Shaw OFM


Fr. Nessan's interest in athletics was given a very practical outlet, in 1943, when he began teaching in the Capuchin College, Rochestown. There was a good athletic tradition in the school, so he was encouraged to train, coach and prepare the boys for the Cork Colleges.

In comparison to modern times, facilities were very primitive, grass tracks, holes in the ground for starting, a scarcity of spikes, no foam for the high jump, and white-washed track marks which were always at the mercy of the elements. But competition was keen, and standards good. As there was no organized juvenile competition outside the schools, inter-school competition was organised outside regular Colleges, which were Championships held at local, provincial and All-Ireland level.

During all these years, he pushed hard for regular underage competition, and, after he attended the County Board - NACAI - with that end in view. In fact, both Br Elliott, CBC and Fr Nessan were made life Vice-Presidents of the Association in Cork, in 1954, as a reward for their work in promoting athletics.

In 1956, Fr Nessan assisted in the formation of Hllltown AC, then later founded Fr Mathew AC, as a juvenile club. In the early 'sixties' he was among the founder members of Leevale AC. Shortly after that, BLE was formed, that being 1967, a year later, and, as a result of a Leevale motion, a separate juvenile Board was organized. Fr. Nessan became chairman, and Ted Murray of the Togher Athletic Club was secretary. The BLOE County Board has since grown from strength to strength, and ranks among the premier in the country.

Fr. Mathew AC - although only a juvenile club - had great strength in depth. In its very first year, it was second in the Cade Cup, competing against many long established clubs. It was to cater for the boys in the club who would be growing beyond juvenile age that Leevale AC was formed. Leevale was the first club in Cork to accept the affiliation of women, and Betty Cody, with the Leeside Ladies, were the first affiliated. With them came the Jeffers sisters, from Carrigaline, and so started a great tradition.



cork city sports athletics person of month oct 2012 fergus o donovan

Fergus O'Donovan, Cork City Sports Athletic Person of the Month, October 2012

Another prominent figure in Cork athletics in the 'sixties' was FERGUS O'DONOVAN. Fergus' early involvement in athletics was sparse, save for the odd foray onto such as the local montessori tricycle race, or primary school three-legged affair. It was late in his career, as a student at CBC, that formal athletics took a hold. In his final year he borrowed spikes, and won the South Munster mile in 5:11. He was third in the Munsters, behind Tom O'Riordan, who went on to win the Nationals.

Fergus' interest in athletics was further strengthened by Noble Johnson, of St Finbarr's, and the young miler became a member of the club. Formal training followed, but the 1956 track season was curtailed, due to the then 'polio' situation in the county. Travel was restricted, and there was, also the worry that entry into further education could be a problem, because of the medical problems in Cork.

In between his studies in Dublin, he returned to Cork at Christmas, and won novice cross-country medals with St Finbarr's. A silver in the county junior followed, and so he was set for the 1957 outdoor season. At the same time, the novice and open sports meetings held the limelight in the county, and Fergus duly did the circuit, taking the six novice titles, which meant senior athletics from then on.

Another year's study followed in Dublin, before he entered the hallowed portals of UCC. His athletic involvement there resulted in further successes at all levels. There were many an Inter-Faculty victory, and at Inter-Varsity level there were medals, over the mile and 880 yards, in the four years he competed at these Championships.

Among the National gold medal winning performances, one in particular bears re-telling. The national medley - 440 yards, two 220 yards and an 880 yards - relay title was being run off in Fermoy, in 1961, and the UCC team that day, consisting of Cashel Riordan, Brian Murray, Connie Sullivan and Fergus, were among the favourites for gold, which they duly collected, with UCD among those in their wake.

At the time one of the top sprinters in the world was at UCD, and he ran in Fermoy. Victor Manning, alias Wieslaw Maniak, was a 1964 Olympic finalist in the 100 metres, placing fourth. He was also on the Poland team that reached 4X100 metre finals in 1964, and 1968 - with a silver being taken in Tokyo. It is said of Victor/Wieslaw that he may well have been Olympic medallist standard, but that did not mean an automatic Irish Championship medal!

By 1963, an achilles tendon problem meant a less competitive attitude towards the sport. That of course did not mean giving up completely. Between 1966 and 1976, Fergus ran some eleven marathons taking medals at Regional level. He also ran 1984 Dublin marathon, and was also a regular on the Cork to Cobh.

At UCC, he had settled quickly into administrative duties with the athletic club. Fergus became a regular at County Board meetings, and was instrumental in bringing many a motion at County and National level. This was at a time when athletics in Ireland was very much in a ferment. Among other notable youthful enthusiasts in the country at the time, with similar views on athletics was one Padraig Griffin - a student at UCG. At the same time, Fergus began his biennial treks to the major athletic Championships, starting with the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. The lack of International athletics in Ireland was a major factor he believed in the decline of standards, thus the necessity of reaching an agreement between the many athletic bodies in the country.

Before that however 'unity' there was yet another area that Fergus became very much involved - coaching. Around 1963, he began floating the idea of National coaching sessions. When in Killarney, that year, he called into the Franciscan Friary. There Fergus spoke to the Headmaster of Gormanstown College, in the expectation of securing the track at the College for a coaching course, and he was successful! In all some 35 athletes turned up to the College, over the New Year weekend, 1963/1964. Athletes from the NACAI, the AAUE and the NIAAA were present, it was a first in more ways than one! Maeve and Sean Kyle were among the cross-border visitors. The following Easter there were no less than 90 athletes present, and a year later, some 300. It was still to be christened the 'Bears Club', but this double meeting for coaching - at New Year and Easter, was a success right from the start.

Over the years, the likes of John Cooper, David Watson, Mike Rawson and Roger Jenkins came to coach, in addition to all the top Irish coaches. The best available coaches were summoned, and gave their advice and passed on their expertise to the assembled throng. On one occasion, the legendary Arthur Lydiard was being summoned to Gormanstown, but an outbreak of 'foot & mouth' ensured that this coup was not quite carried off. Yet this did not distract from what was now equally as enjoyable a weekend as it was instructive.

When with the UCC athletic club, Fergus was among those who revived the club's vice-presidency list. Former club athletes were asked to attend club committee meetings, the Inter-Faculties and, of course, the Inter-Varsities, as officials or guests. These included John 0 Jagoe, and yet another aspect of Fergus' athletics career followed. It was John who asked Fergus to be involved in the Cork City Sports.

As secretary of the Sports' Committee, Fergus had much work to do. This was at a time when BLE was being born, with all the many ramifications that that involved. There was much liaison with Brendan Foreman, the international secretary of BLE, over athletes coming from abroad to participate in the City Sports. His involvement in the City Sports lasted the decade, with the sports taking on new dimensions annually.

Fergus - although 'officially' retired from athletics - remains very much in contact with the sport. His contribution to the sport could only be adequately covered through a book devoted to him alone. When called upon for advice, assistance, or, indeed, just a talk on athletics, he will readily converse. His athletics library is second to none, and his video library bears testament to a lifetime in athletics

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Fergus O'Donovan Retires From Coaching




fr liam kelleher rioFr. Liam kelleher, at the Rio Olympics closing ceemony, 2016

Fr LIAM KELLEHER, a native of Donoughmore, and presently a curate at Inch, Killeagh, is currently in his 23rd year actively involved in the sport at every level, and his posting, as Irish team manager, to the this year's World Championships is regarded by him as the highest honour he has received in the sport to date. Previously, he managed the Irish team at the European Junior Championships, in Birmingham, where Barry Walshe captured a bronze medal in the Decathlon, in 1987. He also managed the Irish team at the World Junior Championships, at Sudbury, in Canada, in 1988.

Fr Liam's athletic involvement commenced in his native Donoughmore in the 'sixties', when he acted as an official at the renowned Open Sports. His first foray into the competition arena at local level saw him win his first race, the 100m, at the local sports, and that was just a few weeks after his Ordination, in 1968. Incidentally, he celebrated the Silver Jubilee of his Ordination at St Lachteen's Church, Donoughmore in June.

For the next year and a half he had no involvement in athletics at his first parish, Treforest, Pontypridd in South Wales. On his return to Midleton in 1970, he had his first encounter with the sport in July. he had been out fishing in Cork Harbour with a priest who was on a visit home from Australia; they caught a huge quantity of mackerel and on his way home, passing the local playing field, he decided to run off races for the prized fish. Soon the 100 mackerel had disappeared, and he himself was hooked. He joined the local Midleton AC, and got huge numbers involved. In the first season of his involvement, the club captured numerous County and Munster medals, and an incredible 75 All-Ireland medals. One of the athletes already in the club, who incidentally finished second in the County under 16 Cross-country that year, was Liam O'Brien. Liam went on the following year to win the first ever juvenile steeplechase event run at All-Ireland level. Since then, his exploits at the event are legendary, having won 10 National senior steeplechase titles. In addition to representing Ireland at School level, Liam went on to the 1984 Olympics at Los Angeles, where he reached the semi-final. Liam, now in the twilight of a great career, is running as well as ever. Other athletes of that Midleton era that readily spring to mind are the Hartnett family, Linda Barrett, who won several National Juvenile titles, as well as finishing second in the AAA's 1,500m, Elizabeth O'Brien - a European Schools Cross-country Champion, and current squash star, Joe Brice, Aghada former National discus record holder, Mary Fenton - BL0E overall National Sports Star, and sister of John, who was no mean athlete himself, Fred O'Lomasney and Richard Quirke - two cross-country stars. The Fleming sisters, Mary and Noreen, were brilliant athletes, with Mary having the distinction of winning 7 All-Ireland medals on the same weekend, as well as winning National senior    and schools' titles. Most of the Midleton hurling team that won the All-Ireland Club title were introduced to sport by Fr Liam, and have All-Ireland medals for cross-country. John Boylan, who teaches at Tallow NS, won 11 All-Ireland medals and was a high jumper. The Midleton connection lasted 7 years, and, during Fr Liam's Coaching period, the Club won in excess of 500 All-Ireland and 29 European Schools medals. Fr Liam organised many major road and track events, but the most famous was the meeting on the 7th of the 7th '77, which included Olympic Champion Steve Ovett, and World Champions    Eamon Coughlan and John Treacy.  He also undertook major tours to Donegal, and to Scotland, and there was much sadness when he was transferred from the town, in September 1977, to the small village of Tullylease, on the Limerick border, some two miles from Dromcollogher.

Its hard to keep a good man down, and Fr Kelleher was back to his first love - sport - in a matter of weeks. He threw in his lot with the nearby Dromcollogher AC, and joined forces with Christy Brosnan. It came as no surprise that, within 2 months, athletes under their care went on win the first 4 races on the programme, for under 11 and 13 boys and girls, at the Munster Championships, these athletes went on to win numerous Irish titles, and set records with regularity. One of the athletes to emerge from this group was Barbara Johnson, who won the Irish Senior pentathlon, the last to be held, as a 17 year old. Barbara went on to win many Irish titles, at long jump and 400  metres hurdles, and represented Ireland In that event at the Seoul Olympics.

Not content with that much, Fr Liam was instrumental in purchasing a 5 acre field in the village of Tullylease, which had just 39 pupils at the local National School. Within a few months, the field was developed into one of the first all-weather tracks in the country, outside Dublin. As well as housing an open air concert, Olympic Champions, John Walker and Steve Ovett as well as World Champions, Eamonn Coghlan, Frank O'Mara and John Treacy, made the village a household name all over the country, and world wide, through running on the track. That same year, he was transferred to nearby Dromina, in June 1982, and a new era began.

The athletic career in Dromina became famous for two reasons - the Dromina 10 mile road race, which rivalled Ballycotton in prestige, popularity and organisation, and, secondly, the formation of North Cork AC, which produced many National Champions, and at least 15 International athletes, and 9 athletes who secured athletic scholarships to the US.

Anita Philpott was a juvenile star, winning many Irish titles. There was a lull in her career, after she was stricken by injury, while on schlorship in the US. There, she won the US Junior Cross-country title, in her first year, and finished 5th in the European Junior Championship, in Birmingham, over 3,00m event. Recently, she has made a comeback, finishing a very crediable 4th in the Cork City Sports 3,000 metres, and showed great form in winning the BLE Senior 1,500m title with ease. Kieran Stack was another star in the steeplechase, as were Garrert Barry and Geoffrey Sheehan, who all went to the 'States', as did Cormac O'Riordan, Brien Stack, Ger Twomey and John Murray, who had the distinction of winning the under 16 and 17 All-Ireland cross-country Championships in the same year. During that period, he was elected to the Management Committee of BLE, and was National PRO for a year.

In January 1984, he took over as Editor of MARATHON Magazine, from Padraig Griffin. Since 1984, the number of annual issues have been reduced, with greater emphasis on the Annuals; here all national events are covered, and major Games like the Olympics, World and European Championships have been given excellent written, and even more excellent photographic coverage. Fr Liam's first major athletics meet was at Montreal, in 1967, and was the fixture, Americas Vs Europe. This was part part of 'Expo 67', and there he saw the legendary Bob Beamon in action. Since then, he has attended 5 Olympic Games, 7 World cross-country Championships, 4 European Championships, and all the World Championships - Helsinki in '83, Rome in '87 and Tokyo in '91. He had also planned to go to the Moscow Olympics, in 1980, but pulled out at the last minute, fearing trouble. He did go back to Moscow, in 1991, on his way to Tokyo, and duly arrived on the day of the attempted coup that changed the face of the Soviet Union.

The latest chapter began when Fr Liam was transferred, in June 1988, back to east Cork again - this time to Inch, in the parish of Killeagh. Here again he returned to his former club Midleton, and to the senior club of East Cork. He was back with many of the athletes he had coached as juveniles, including Liam O'Brien, Jerry Wallace and Bryan Meade. Midleton were quickly established, by November of 1989, as the best cross-country club in Munster, powered by many new recruits from Killeagh and district.

A conflict of interest, between his role with East Cork and Midleton, led to the formation of Glenbower AC, three years ago. The club now boasts of 200 juveniles, and has had a phenomenal rate of success, both at track and field and cross-country. During the last cross-country season, the club finished tops in East Cork and Munster, and second in Ireland, having the distinction of taking the top 3 places in the under 12 All-Ireland event, through Siobhan Ahern, Caroline Daly and Annette Leahy. Terri Hennessy won the under 14 individual All-Ireland title in cross-country, to add to the under 13 title of the year before. Angela Murphy, winner of the national Junior 800m title this year, with East Cork, came through the club system and leaves to take up a US Athletics Schlorship.

The most recent track and field season has been simply brilliant. At County level, the club captured 210 medals, and there were 95 Munster and 53 All-Ireland medals. The highlight was winning the County, Munster and All-Ireland under 11 boys and girls and under 12 girls team titles. One athlete in particular deserves special mention; Dermot Sheehan has won 10 All-Ireland medals during the current season - 4 gold indoor and 2 gold, 3 silver and a bronze outdoor, in the under 14 age group. Another National multi-medal winner Maria Hennessy in the under 13 age group. Maria took a gold and a silver individual at the All-Ireland indoor and 2 golds, hurdles and High Jump, as well as bronze in the outdoor National Championships.

The club added a new dimension to its activities, by hosting 33 German athletes during the month of July, and plan a return visit to Germany next year. Fr. Liam also established a newspaper in East Cork, some four and a half years ago, which is thriving. He is currently a member of the Management Committee of BLE. In a word, his commitment is total, and hopefully the team he manages at the World Championships in Stuttgart will do Ireland proud.



inpho 00273111 john hartnettJohn Hartnett in action for Cork, in 1984 Centenary Cup Final - Photo: INPHO/Billy Strickland

At the age of twelve, JOHN HARTNETT was pole vaulting in the back of the family garden. One day after training in the local Convent grounds Fr Kelleher, his coach, brought along a vintage metal vaulting pole. At the time, John was All-Ireland Champion in the shot putt under 11 and 12. But, during a break in training for the shot, John dug a hole under the high jump stand, and so began his vaulting career. That day he finished up clearing 1.78 metres. Fr Kelleher was impressed.
Five weeks after first handling a pole, John entered the Munster competition, during which he knocked the bar at the first two attempts. Then a lad from Cobh, Jer McLoughlin told him to move back his mark a foot. He sailed over and went on to win the competition! It was Gerard who gave John his first fibre-glass pole, which held no fears for John. Unfortunately Gerard was to  be killed tragically in a road accident some years later.

In junior competition, John was never mastered in the pole vault. 1978 was his best year. He won the 'vault' at the European Student Games, the British Student Games, the Irish Colleges, the National junior title and the Tailtean Games. For good measure, there was also an All-Ireland Minor hurling medal with Cork!

A year earlier, John won the pole vault, at the National Junior Championships, as well as the All-Ireland Colleges, and Tailteann Games. The National junior title was regained in 1979, and John won it again the following year. There was also the European Youth Championship gold medal in 1978, and, at National senior level, John won two pole vault titles - in 1981 and 1982.

Like all good pole vaulters, John proved to be an all round athlete and, not surprisingly, he made several forays into the
area of the decathlon. He was second in the Youth AAA Championships, in 1978, and won the under 21 National decathlon in 1980. That same year, he broke the County decathlon record, amassing a grand total of no less than 6,012 points. A
clearance in the pole vault of 4.15 metres was among the highlights which helped towards that total.

His best in the ten eventer stands at 6,250 points. With a vault best of 4.45 metres, John still ranks among the best ever in this country. Yet one should not disregard some of his other performances, as he was a capable high jumper, with a best of 1.95 metres, had a javelin best of fifty metres, and was capable of running close to the fifty second mark for the quarter.



looking back page garret barry page 144

Another to benefit from Fr Liam Kelleher's tutelage is GARRET BARRY. Having started running at the relatively 'late' age of 17, it was hard to imagine that he would be in New York, three years later. IONA COLLEGE was a great college to attend, and there were many 'ups and downs' over the four years spent there. Among the 'ups' was the winning the Olympic Invitational, at the Meadowlands New Jersey, and catching a cold having been out late celebrating a College record!

Then there was missing the Championship races, and receiving a word or two from coach, Mick Byrne! Other memories include travelling to Knoxville in Tennessee, waiting four hours, for a conection to North Carolina; meeting Sonia, Gerry O'Reilly, Frank, Marcus, at the 'Penn Relays' was something special. Another great memory was training with Eamonn Coghlan, at our board track at IONA, having pushed off a foot of snow!.

Towards the end of the scholarship, Garret reached a burn-out stage, that resulted in a three year lay off. It was Teresa Sweeney, his fiancee, who got Garret back on the athletics road. He began jogging with her in July, 1991. Five minutes initially, and, since then, the progress has been unheard of. Twelve months later, National Champion indoors and outdoors - being the first person to hold National indoor and outdoor titles simultaneously. Munster records - indoors and outdoors, competing at the European Relay, where among others was Steve Cram. The ultimate highlights are the Cork City Sports and National Championships over the past two years.. Among his views, are that the National Championships should have more 'clout' - the first 3 across the line should represent Ireland. It is great to see Garret back again on the track, and no doubt he will be one to watch for in the future as he could well fulfil the potential he undoubtedly has.


ted murray togher acTed Murray

It was way back in 1949 that TED MURRAY began his athletic involvement. This was through competition over the cross-country courses of the county. Over the subsequent years, he competed with Ballineen, Dohenys, Meelin, and the Rising Sun clubs. During his competitive years he won many county Championship medals at various grades competing in the colours mainly of the Rising Sun club.

ted murray rising sun ac teamTed Murray, front centre, with Rising Sun AC team - 1958 Cork Senior Cross-Country Champions

By the time he retired from active competition, in 1964, he was living in the city. Shortly after, the Togher Athletic Club was formed and Ted was a founding member. He was the club's first secretary - a post held until 1982!
With the formation of BLOE, he was elected onto the County Board, as secretary. His administrative career continued to ascend, for shortly afterwards he was elected treasurer of the County BLE Board, a post he already held with the County BLOE Board.

In 1981, Ted decided to step down as County Board BLOE treasurer - a post he had held from 1972, and in which time he served under no less than five chairmen. In this time he served with no less than six secretaries!
He began his career in starting in 1974 - a position he still retains. He remains among the more respected starters in the country, having quite literally more experience than can really be imagined. His quite nature belies a presence which he commands at the starting line of any race, be it juvenile or senior. As such, he is well respected and liked by those under whom he has given the starting commands.

In 1975, he was elected treasurer of the senior County Board. This again was a position that Ted held for many a year and under several chairmen. This was at a time, of course, when the BLE organization was developing into full maturity, as it entered its second decade of existence. The treasurer of any Board is of great importance in ensuring that finances are kept under careful control, and this Ted did to the extent that, for some time, he was regarded as something of an institution on the Board. His administrative career did not end when he declined to go for re-election as treasurer, as, in 1988, he was elected chairman of the Cork County BLE Board.

As ever, Ted continues to be ever present in the athletics world; he continues his great work as starter, and, when not standing in that pose, he will assist whenever and wherever required, as judge or general official in the field. He continues to attend county board meetings, and is a regular at Southern Region, and at National Congresses. For many athletic enthusiasts, Ted remains very much the starter - a very distinctive figure in his white coat and red cap.



looking back bill nestor

Bill Nestor

Few people could compare their athletic involvement with BILLY NESTOR. Billy had already been involved in the sport for almost forty years when BLE was formed in 1967. In earlier years, he was among the top sprinters in the country, and was also a very capable long jumper. His tussles with all the leading sprinters of the 'thirties are well known, and, among the highlights, must surely be the silver medal he won for the National 100 yards, which was run during the half-time interval of the 1939 All-Ireland final - the 'thunder & lightning' final.

In more recent years, Billy was the County Board senior starter, and he filled that post with the dignity and care that it should entail. In many ways, he was a 'father' figure in his white coat, and enjoyed a tremendous rapport with the sprinters, with whom he could, of course, relate very much. The many tales relating to his 'starting' bear testament to the esteem that all held him in.

As an administrator, few could match his care and dedication. County Board secretary and PRO on the formation of BLE. He was to relinquish the secretarial post in the mid-'seventies, but continued on as PRO, into the 'eighties. A well respected figure that always sat on the chairman's right hand side. As PRO, he had an access to the 'local' press that few could manage.

He was as well known in his guise as 'W.A.N. ', in the EVENING ECHO, and as 'ROVER', in the SOUTHERN STAR, as he was for his many other activities. His writing not only conveyed the necessary present day arrangements and results, but also brought to life the past, as he recounted many a stirring tale from an age that was slowly departing, an age that he was part and parcel of - the 'golden age' of Irish athletics.



looking back 2 page 30 marion lyons county senior xc 1978Marion Lyons, County Senior Cross-Country Championship, 1978

Another St Finbarr's athlete to grace the County scene for many a year, although not quite as long as Billy - yet, is MARION LYONS, or Marion Stanton, as several athletics correspondents still refer to her. In the 'seventies', Marion was among a group of International women runners at the club, and, indeed, duly collected ten 'caps' in the decade. After joining the 'Barrs, she was coached by Tom McCarthy and Fergus O'Donovan. All events were tried but she settled on middle distance.

With bests of 2:11 for the 800, and 9:16 for the 3,000, she secured many a Championship medal. In the 'eighties', Marion ran several marathons and her 2:54, in the 1988 Dublin event, remains her fastest. More recently, she has turned 'vet' and is still very much to the fore; last year there was International calling, yet again, in her new category, and no doubt much more will be heard of her in the future.



elaine kelly st finbarrs ac

Another 'Barrs athlete of the 'seventies' to feature at National level was ELAINE KELLY. Elaine was a part of that great 'Barrs group that won almost everything the sport had to offer in Ireland. Elaine had a superb quarter time of 57.8 and as such her finishing bursts were frequently unmatched, as she won many National titles - mainly at 800 metre level.

dussledorf international cross country team a

"Group of Munster athletes pictured at Cork Airport, prior to their departure to Dusseldorf for the International Cross-Country Championships (1977). The other members of the Irish teams flew out from Dublin. Group includes Elaine Kelly, Marion Stanton, Neil Cusack, Donal Walsh, Ray Treacy and "Cork Examiner" reporter Brendan Mooney." Photo: Cork Examiner

At UCC, she was the mainspring for the club's resurgence as an athletics power, as she assisted ably in National cross-country medals, and in the winning of the Inter-Varsity track & field and cross-country Championships, at will, throughout the early to mid 'seventies.



SANDRA O'RIORDAN, of Kerry Pike, ranks among the foremost wheelchair athletes in the Country. She is a regular at athletic meets, where there are events suited to her abilities - and that remains few enough. Perhaps an area that the County Board should examine in the near future.

She recently competed in the Donoughmore seven mile road race, finishing well up in the final placings and taking the prize for the best woman wheelchair athlete. Sandra has been quite busy on the competition field abroad too.

At the the New York State Games, in Buffalo, for the physically disabled she did extremely well. She returned home with no less than six golds - the 100 metres, where she sprinted to 23 seconds, her best being 21. She completed the sprint double, by taking the 200 metres in 43 seconds - her best being 39. She won the shot with 3.79 metres - some 31 centimetres below her best. She also won the discus with 10.45 metres. There was also the 800 metres, and the slalom, which is as per the ski-ing event - in and out of markers along a specific course.

Sandra has competed now for over twelve years, and trains with the Leevale athletic club.



looking back chapter 8 eagle women county league champions 1985
Eagle TC, Cork County League Champions 1985 - L to R: Noreen Linehan, Helen Linehan, Fidelma Kirwan, Clodagh Henehan and Kathy Linehan

Having someone like Paddy Linehan as a father surely gives one an advantage in the very competitive world of athletics. As such Helen, Kathy and Noreen have ensured that the name Linehan has been to the fore at county, regional and national level, and, over the past decade, the three have dominated women's field athletics in the province.

Helen, the eldest, was a prominent shot putter and javelin thrower, winning many a Championship medal in these two events. However, showing great all-round ability, she was also a capable race-walker, competing up to and including National level. Her younger sister, Kathy, was a first class sprinter, and high hurdler, and, again, secured many a championship medal. There were also successes in the discus for Kathleen, thus again showing good form as an all-rounder. Throughout the early and mid 'eighties' both were a regular force at sports meetings, throughout the county and beyond.

Noreen, the youngest of the trio, is yet another all-rounder with a particular liking for the hammer, an event which is gradually claiming its rightful place in women's athletics. It was in multi-events that Noreen first came to prominence at National level, back in the mid-'eighties'.

In 1986, she won the National junior heptathlon. She is still capable of long jumping five metres, and has a quick turn of speed. This jumping and sprinting ability is very evident in her hammer throwing, as she relies more on technique and speed than on strength or weight to secure the distances she does.

At the inaugural running of the National women's hammer Noreen took the bronze medal, a placing she repeated the    following year, in 1988. There was gold in that event, in 1989, and successive silver medals in 1990 and 1991. Last year she could only place fourth, yet that performance surely ranks among her best as she was laid low with illness for much of the preceeding season.

At Regional level Noreen has won all the women's hammer titles that have been held; from the very first in 1988 to this year, 1993, inclusive. This surely must rank as something of a record - to have won six Southern Region titles in a row. This Summer Noreen won her first International 'cap' when competing in the hammer at the Cork City Sports - the first time that the event carried International representative honours, and it was only fitting that Noreen should be among the first to represent her country in the event.



looking back 25 years of ble in cork chapter 8 patsy coffeyPatsy Coffey

When PATSY COFFEY crossed the line in the 1992 Dublin marathon, in a time of 3:48:51, it was the realisation of a dream - because, in his own words, he "never taught he would see the day he would run the 26 mile marathon".

Now living in Cork City, Patsy was not given much of a start in life in native Kerry, spending some time in an orphanage, before working on a farm at 13. He had very little opportunities to partake in sports, until in his 'thirties, when he started running. One of his first events was a sponsored run for the third world, and he also took part in the Simon run in Dublin. In 1990, he completed the Ballycotton '10' for the first time in 80:37, and has run it every year since, bringing his best time down to 74:28. In his build-up to the Dublin marathon last year, Patsy was a regular at most of the races in the Cork area, such as the Belgooly '10', the Cork half-marathon, and the 15 mile Cork-Cobh, as well as many shorter events.

A feature of his running is that he likes to have some charity benefit from his efforts, and, as he says he "gets more of a kick out of it" when he helps someone else. This was evident in the marathon, when he raised a considerable sum for famine relief, and even got his own T-shirt printed with the slogan, 'Please help Somalia to live again'.

Patsy wants to prove what running can do for a person, and one of the greatest benefits he himself has gained has been the number of friends he has made through the sport. It gives him something to look forward to, helps him "stay off the drink (and the fags)", and has added a new dimension to his life.

He is aiming again for Dublin in October, and has spent the summer partaking in events such as the Ballycotton 5 mile Series. He relishes the marathon distance, because, as he says "the longer the race the better I get". He has certainly come a long way himself, in such a short time, and looks forward to many more races on the marathon and road running circuit.

Patsy Coffey died in 2017. May he rest in peace.



john dooley 1972 national 1500m championship

The finish to the 1,500 metre final at the 1972 National Champion-ships: John Dooley (DCH) holds off Olympian Mike Keogh of Midleton to take the gold medal

Brother JOHN DOOLEY is among the most respected coaches in Ireland at the present. His commitment and dedication to those he coaches, and the advice he will offer to those who seek it, are certainly second to none. Brother Dooley has already enjoyed quite a lengthy life in the sport, both as an active athlete, and, in more recent times, as a successful coach.
He was an outstanding athlete in the early 'seventies'. At the National Championships, in Banteer, in 1972, he won the 1,500 metre title in splendid fashion. With several athletes chasing Olympic Qualification standards this Championship remains among the most exciting on memory, and Brother Dooley's stirring run in that 1,500 remains very vivid in the memory of those who were fortunate enough to have been present on the day.

Irish 1,500m Championship 1972

There was also an exciting tussle in the mile, at the Cork City Sports, where the genial DCH man took on European silver medallist, Frank Murphy, for that mile Championship of Ireland. Noel Carroll too was beaten by the Nenagh born Christian
Brother - this time over 1,000 yards, at the Iveagh Grounds.

His competitive athletics ended in 1973, due to acute tendonitis, which forced him to retire from running. However this strengthened his commitment to coaching, an aspect of the sport in which he has, over the years, gained widespread respect. There have been individual and team honours for Crumlin CBS, Tralee CBS and Colaiste Eanna, as a result of his presence in all three. Among the top class athletes he has coached are Ray Flynn - Olympian and National record holder, and Enda FitzPatrick the current National steeplechase champion.

He has been team manager to the Irish Schools' international athletics teams through the 'seventies and 'eighties', and has lectured and been coach at numerous BLOE, BLE and NCC seminars and conferences.

After a career break from teaching duties, to take a year-long course in youth ministry, at St John's University, in New York, Brother Dooley was appointed to a teaching post in the 'North Mon' here in Cork. There, he has continued his efforts in promoting athletics, and, in particular, middle distance running. Over the years he has had many talented athletes under his care, both in the past, and, more recently, at the 'Mon'. Many an illustrious athlete has fallen under his wing, and, typical of his nature, it is best perhaps not to mention what would be a very lengthy list.



Pat Walsh honoured with Cork City Sports Lifetime Achievement Award 2016

In 2016, Pat Walsh was honoured, by Cork City Sports, with their Lifetime Achievement Award 


 Among the better known present County Board officers is PAT WALSH. He is a member of Skibbereen AC, and has been involved at County Board level for the last decade or so. His involvement with athletics began when at school, qualifying for The Munster Colleges' 200 metres. Pat, by his own admission, was never an athlete of any great talents, but always believed in the value of competing, and has always been a great admirer of the true sporting nature of athletics; a battle against oneself, where the taking part is all important.

From 1976 to 1982, Pat competed in the many sports meetings in West Cork - Caheragh, Aughadown, Clonakilty, and many more. He feels that the fact that many of these sports meetings were held in conjunction with carnivals, always gave a prominent forum at local level for athletes to compete, and the fact that many of these meetings are no longer held in the various parishes up and down the country is one of the reasons why our sport is not growing.

From 1976 to 1980, Pat was at UCC, and has many fond memories of competing in cross-country for the 'College'. The Inter-Varsity cross-country Championships was the highlight of those times, because of the "away" events at other Universities, Galway, Dublin, and a particularly historic weekend in Belfast, in 1979. During his time with UCC, Pat became the County Board representative for the 'College', and, indeed, had a foretaste of Board duties, when for three of these years he was the organizer of transport for Inter-Varsity cross-country events and Congress each year. He laughs when he remembers that, on one curriculum vitae, he listed himself as "Transport Manager" with the County Board, and was questioned, at the subsequent interview, if he could supply some free tickets to the interview board!

Pat's performances in races lacked the necessary talent for winning, so competing was always his priority. He remembers a number of his better performances in 1977, when he won a County intermediate team medal with UCC, and in the same year won the West Cork 1,500 metres from Sean and Paul Harte.

From 1980 to 1985, Pat worked in Dublin and competed in many BHAA races there. He took up marathon running, and, in 1981, he ran the Dublin City marathon for the first time. He went on to run and complete six altogether, his best performance being at the 1985 Dublin city marathon, when he completed the race in 2 hours 56 minutes, thus achieving his personal goal of beating that 3 hours barrier.

In 1985, Pat returned to work in Cork, and immediately became involved in the administrative side of athletics. He became vice-chairman of the County Board, until 1989, when he became treasurer, a position which he still occupies. The financial position of the board has improved over that time, thanks in the main to the support from sponsors like the EVENING ECHO, BUCKLER, KEANE'S, BURGERLAND, and such like.

Pat feels that Cork has continued to maintain its strength in cross-country running, being perhaps the premier county in Ireland in team events. The standard of junior cross-country in Cork has been exceptional, with such talent as Mark Carroll, John Murray, David Healy and Darren Keenan, very much to the fore. However he is unhappy with the track and field standards, and the support from athletes in Cork in recent years. There is huge scope for improvement here, but wonders what the Board is doing wrong, if anything, as the number competing in track and field are becoming less annually.

Of course the major event of the year for Pat is the EVENING ECHO Ladies' mini-marathon. Since 1989, he has been the main organizer of this major event on the County Board calender. The 1992 event reached an all time high of 2,200 entries, each of which receive their individual results. Here his wife, Marie, is constantly assisting with the background work - the typing of entries and finishing places, amidst a host of other very necessary activity. Without her support, he feels he would find his involvement in athletics very much curtailed

Related Article

Pat Walsh Honoured with Cork City Sports Lifetime Achievement Award 2016



reg hayes cork city half marathon 1990 photo irish runner

Another very prominent athletics administrator is REGGIE HAYES, the well known St Finbarrs' man. Reggie became involved in the sport around 1968, when he finished 'College' and started teaching, becoming involved in St Finbarrs AC. His running achievements were anything but spectacular. Essentially he filled in on most teams in cross-country, road and a very small bit of track. He enjoyed road, and particularly marathon running when it was not popular, but obviously his great interest was in the administration side.

He drifted in as a committee member of St Finbarrs' around 1970, and then, in turn, became treasurer, secretary, and, ultimately, chairman of the club. He had the honour of being President of the club during the period when the clubhouse adjacent the Lough was built.

His involvement at National level also came about by chance, in that, during his early days in St Finbarrs, he went as a delegate of the club to many a County Board meeting, coming under the wing of John O'Connell. These were stormy periods at meetings, and Reggie eventually was elected chairman in 1978. He served in this post until 1984. He was responsible for getting the first major sponsorship for county athletics from THREE STRIPE (ADIDAS), and this put the County Board on a good financial footing for the period. They were responsible for the introduction of the 'City marathon' (Easter Mondays) and there was also great cooperation from local radio. He was also instrumental in starting the EVENING ECHO Ladies' mini-marathon, and, in addition, a coaching structure for the county was initiated.

In 1984, he became PRO for the Munster Council, as, again, he attended many council meetings, and the natural progression was onto the National management committee. Here there was time spent on senior activities, junior activities, development, and then on to management during his period at local level, and gave these up to function as chairman of the board. He became National vice-president of the association in 1985, and finally National President from 1986 to 1989. This again was a stormy period, where they had to tackle issues of trust funds and similar. At this time Reggie also signed an agreement with NACAI, and designed a forum which allowed for the appointment of a CEO. Time will dictate as to whether his period in all of these offices were successful or not.

Looking back over the period, many changes have come about in the association, and here Reggie has strong beliefs. As a former National President, his views should be taken seriously and acted upon, for the good of the sport. Looking back on twenty five years, one wonders what the next quarter century will have in store; developments in one form or another derive from actions taken now, and, of course, the intention is that a fiftieth anniversary book will be published LOOKING BACK on those years. As for the moment, Reggie has views on a number of topics which will no doubt have to be tackled in the coming months and years.


Five main issues are herewith analysed -

(1)    The development of the professional athlete;

while this was a natural progression from the 'sham amateurism', it has caused quite a few problems for the association. They themselves, as an association, do not seem to know or comprehend what is wanted from our athletes. We are genuinely not able to look after them as we should, and so they are left to "agents". On the other hand, some of our athletes show scant regard for the association. They obviously have opinions of their own, but both sides must sit down and develop the sport.

(2)    The scholarship scheme;

At juvenile level, we seem to drive the athletes too much to secure scholarships, and we really do not examine where we are going. How many have really benefited from it, or has it just being used for a job? How many are fit to compete for Ireland during the summer period? Have we alternatives, and, if so, can we extend or develop a scheme for Ireland using facilities here and in Britain.

(3)    The super club;

Is it a good thing, or is it destroying the spirit of the sport and the association? How do we harness the spirit of the local clubs?

(4)    Coaching;

We have developed a good coaching structure for the country, and this is obviously essential, with qualifications for EC countries to be standardised. However, if we now have all these coaches, where are all the athletes. Have we seen major improvements in our standards? How many of our coaches are now coaching in other sports?

(5)    One 'job' for one person;

We have, at present people, who hold anything up to three or four positions at National level, with further at juvenile level. While this is very fine, what happens when there is a clash? Where does the alligence lie? Can people keep up this work rate?

Overall, Reggie feels that there are quite a large number of questions to be answered by all of us; have we a major plan for the next ten years, and, if not, why? How are we going to encourage athletes into the sport and hold them? How do we seek "press support" for our development plan.

All very pertinent questions.



Looking Back - 25 Years of BLE in Cork - Chapter 5 - Clubs

LOOKING BACK - 25 Years of BLE in Cork



Chapter 5 - Clubs


  Ballymore-Cobh AC     Bandon AC    Belgooly AC    Blarney/Inniscarra AC 
Dohenys AC Eagle AC East Cork AC Grange/Fermoy AC
Leevale AC Mallow AC Midleton AC North Cork AC
St Finbarrs AC   Skibbereen AC   Togher AC UCC AC
Youghal AC      


Without the 'club' there would hardly be athletics and as such it is only right that the following chapter is devoted to the many clubs in the county. No less than seventeen are reviewed over the following pages.

Each review has been written by a prominent member of that particular club.

The clubs included are as follows -


Download Club Review (PDF File)   Author   Page




- Phyllis Kidney - 44/46




- Billy Good - 47/52
Photos       53




- Rosaleen Walsh - 54




- Mary Meagher - 55




- Catherine Murphy - 56




- Paddy Linehan - 57/58


East Cork


- Liam O'Brien - 59




- Bob Burke - 60




- Fr Nessan & John Sheehan 61/62
Photos       63




- Pat Kerrigan - 64




- Tom Houlihan - 66


North Cork


- Maura Doyle - 66


St Finbarr's


- Reggie Hayes - 67/68




- Pat Walshe - 69




- Tom Morgan - 70/71




- Colm Murphy - 72/74




- Willie O'Mahony - 75


 looking back 5 1

Leevale middle distance athletes and coaches, 1993; included are Marcus O'Sullivan, Pat Shine, Dick Hodgins, Ray Shanahan, Dave Healy and Donie Walsh.


BALLYMORE/COBH AC (Download in PDF Format)

Phyllis Kidney

On the formation of BLE, three athletic club's existed in the town of Cobh: Ballymore Athletic and Cycling club, Cobh Athletic and Cycling club, who were affiliated to BLE, and the ICF and Ballymore ACC. who were affiliated to the NACAI.

Two prominent officials, who helped in the formation of BLE, were the late Noel Higgins, who was a member of the NACAI National Executive at the time, and the late Brendan Hurley, whose main achievements were in the formation of BLOE. In the seventies, he was one of the prime movers in the development of Divisions Boards in the County.

It was inevitable that the two BLE clubs in Cobh would unite, and a historic meeting took place in the Commodore Hotel in Cobh, in November 1967. Tom O'Connor, Glenmore, became the first Chairman of Ballymore-Cobh ACC. Other officials elected were Noel Higgins, Brendan Hurley, Billy Ramsell, John McCall, Sean Kennedy, Jerome McCormack, to name but a few.

The club won many Club, County, Munster and All-Ireland titles in the 'seventies, and club stalwart at the time, Len Braham won a number of International 'caps' in the discus. Other people who were prominent in the field events then were Ken Beazley, Pao O'Donovan, and his brother Anthony, and Noel Murphy.

The track men in the 'seventies were the most successful in the history of the club, and the talent of Thomas (Tossie) O'Brien, Bill Keogh, Jim Burke, Paddy Meehan, Jer Finn, Hugh O'Neill and Jack Allen gained the club All-Ireland club Championship honours, at both cross-country and track, and Tossie O'Brien won a gold medal at the Catholic Student Games, in Lisbon, for the 880 yards event.

Cobh's connection with Villanova University also began in 1968, when Ian Hamilton gained a University scholarship, and was a member of two Villanova record breaking teams (that also included Dubliner Frank Murphy) at 4 x 1,500 metres, and the distance medlay relay. Ian failed, by a whisker, to qualify for the 1968 Munich Olympics, and his tussles with army man Junior Cummins will always be remembered, especially at the clubs open sports meetings, at the local GAA field.

Frank and Bernard Walley were the best sprinters around, and later gained international honours after transferring to Leevale AC.

The late 'seventies saw Billy Ramsell become Chairman, with Michael Keeting, Secretary, Geraldine Hennessy, Treasurer, and Sean Kennedy, PRO, with a committee consisting of Tim Pierce, Mrs R.Kelleher, Harry Kelleher, Harry O'Rourke, Jerome McCormack, Rose Mulcahy, Mrs J.Evans, and Brendan Hurley.

This era saw the emergence of one of the club's hardest working athletes and official, Patrick O'Halloran, whose stylish long jumping and triple jumping brought many records and titles back to Cobh. His under-16 long jump mark took a long time to break. Kieran Kelleher and Jimmy Hennessy became the club's sprinters of note, with John Keating the best middle distance man around at that time. Gerard McLoughlin was also a noted jumper with All-Ireland titles at Schools and BLOE level to his credit.

Gerard, who was tragically killed in a car accident in July 1981, was most unfortunate not to win a Junior International 'cap', because, after being picked for Ireland, he played a game of football two days before he was to go away, and broke his ankle.

Another young athlete to make his mark then, was the club's present legal advisor Frank Kelleher, whose sprinting and jumping ability were highly talented. Des McLoughlin always let him know he was around. John Davidson was the most outstanding Javelin thrower at that time in the country, and was to stay to the forefront at all field events for a long time. His excellence at all disciplines - shot, discus, javelin and pole-vault were a joy to watch, with much credit for his success due to the coaching of Anthony 01Donovan, whose own son Michael was later to emerge as an All-Ireland champion, at the long jump.

There was an excellent group of women ,with Terry Keating, Rose Collins, Deirdre Alcock, Marcella McCarthy, Marie Kelleher, Geraldine Troupe, Ann O'Reilly, and Ann O'Donovan always among the medals. Tina O'Donovan was the most complete woman athlete, being equally as good at sprinting, hurdling, jumping and throwing, and won many awards up to All-Ireland level, until a severe ankle injury prevented her from continuing at the sport she loved. The senior men included Tim Greene, Eddie O'Sullivan, and James Collins.

Two athletes who have to be mentioned, for their titanic struggles with each other, are Billy Carter and Sean Walsh, who constantly swapped places for gold and silver medals at County, Munster and All-Ireland level.

In 1982, with Phyllis Kidney taking over as Chairman, and Pat O'Halloran using all his ingenuity and coaching ability to keep the club going, Ballymore-Cobh AC was entering a difficult time, which was to become most rewarding.

Over the years, the club had their difficulties with club houses. The first one, which the Old Cobh club floated down the river, from Verolme Cork Dockyard, and erected at the Holy Ground, was later brought to the College Field, where it served its purpose for many years. Some years ago Phyllis Kidney set up a "Building Fund" committee. With many years of hard work, and the help of the Cork County VEC, Phyllis's determination was rewarded in September 1992, when the club's greatest ambassador, Sonia O'Sullivan, performed the opening of the new solid block club-house, on a site adjacent to their training area.

The club committee which includes Phyllis Kidney, Dolores Searls, Ber Hastings, Sheila Cullinane, Catherine Hickey, James Casey, Paul Parker, Sean Kennedy, Dave Daly, Luke Dobbyn, and Vincent Downey made that day one of the most memorable in the club's history, with many dignitaries from religious, political and sporting sectors attending the opening. COSPOIR and the Department of Education have to be congratulated on their initiative in grant aiding such a small club.

 looking back 5 2

At the opening of the new club house in 1992; Dan McCarthy, Chairman of the East Cork Board and Sonia O'Sullivan

On the athletic side, Phyllis Kidney continues to keep the club to the fore-front of Irish athletics. In each and every one of its twenty five years Ballymore-Cobh AC held one - or more - confined juvenile sports, and this always produced the good athletes.

The club promoted the Cork-Cobh 15 miles road race - up to a few short years ago, when the Navy AC took over - and it was always one of the best promoted races in the country.

Each year the club gives a "Disco" and party to the juveniles, and it was at one of these parties that Sonia O'Sullivan, now a legend in Cobh - made her first contact with Ballymore-Cobh AC.

Initially coached by Pat O'Halloran, and subsequently by Sean Kennedy, Sonia won every conceivable honour available to her at BLOE, Schools and University level, and is far from finished. Sonia gained a scholarship to Villanova University in 1986, thus continuing the clubs association with that University, and has a number of records on the all-time list.

Sonia holds Irish records for 1,000 metres, 1,500, mile, 3,000, and 5,000 and won gold and silver medals, at the World University Championships in 1991, for 1,500 and 3,000 metres. The club’s first ever senior cross-country team award came in 1991, when James Casey, Paul Parker, Vincent Downey and Dave Daly won the Munster intermediate cross-country Championship. The juveniles who picked up medals at County and Munsfer level this year include Oliver Searls, Keith McKeown, Liam Kidney, Mark Kidney.

Ballymore-Cobh AC continues to operate as a small club, in a sport which has a variety of events, and the present aim is to lay a tartan training area, in the near future, to cater competently for these more 'technical' events.


BANDON AC (Download in PDF Format)

Billy Good

The existing Bandon club was founded on 30th January 1964. At the turn of the century, there was also a club known as Bandon AC, which was a combination of the Catholic Young Men’s Society; and the Gaelic Athletic Association, and this club, continued until lapsing during the emergency years.

In 1952, the Knocknacurra Club was revived, after a lapse of some years, and this club promoted the sport, and sports meetings, in the town, during the following years. The Hales family of Knocknacurra, of which both Tom and Willie were prominent officials in the club - and competitors in their younger years, and their brother Bob who was an Irish international miler in 1911 and 1912, later becoming involved in coaching, together with the Nolan family of Knockroe, of which Bill was an Irish international mile champion, in 1931, and narrowly missed selection to the Irish team for the 1932 Olympics. Another prominent Irish international from the area was Patsy O’Flynn in 1913, and who was later to represent the U.S.A. in the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, finishing second, in the 3,000m steeplechase. John Barrett, John Joe O’Mahony, Paddy Brennan, and George Brennan were to give the first introduction to the sport to many of the founder members of Bandon AC.

The foundation stone of the club was layed at the annual general meeting of the Knocknacurra club, in January 1964, where thee majority of the outgoing officers were from the town. It was the intention among some members to move a motion that the club be renamed Bandon. Before this could be done the President, Tom Hales, suggested that the Bandon membership was strong enough to form a club of its own. The established members of Knocknacurra then withdrew to continue their activities, as before. Those who remained decided to hold an open meeting, in the old Boys’ Club premises, in North Main Street, on January 30th.

At that meeting a full officer Board and committee was elected and affiliated to the Cork County Board (NACAI). At a board meeting held on 6th February 1964, in the GAA rooms, Cook Street, Cork, for which the affiliation fee was £2 Guineas, the club was registered as St. Patricks AC. The name was inspired by the statue of the national saint, in the room where the inaugural meeting was held - the name was subsequently changed to Bandon AC, in 1966.

The first officers and committee of the club were - President: George Bennett, Vice President:  Fr. Liam Ahern, (presently parish priest in Kilbrittain) and Wm. Good (Snr) Chairman: John Desmond, Vice Chairman: James Kearney, Hon. Secretary: John Byrne, Assistant Hon. Secretary: Denis Galvin, Hon. Treas: Eddie Cullony, Assistant Hon. Treas: John Lynch, and PRO: Richard McSweeney.

Committee: Donough Coughlan, Billy Good, Sean Pierce, Sean Hyde, J.J. Kearney, Tim Quill, Donie O'Brien, Diarmuid O'Donoghue, Michael Kearney, John Dromey, Willie Creedon, Peter Barrington, Liam Deasy, Sean O'Reilly, Eric Good, Michael Lawton and Anthony McCarthy.

Delegates to County Board: John Dromey and Willie Creedon.

Ten of the above committee were active senior athletes with Knocknacurra, so a transfer was necessary. As the transfer date was October 1st annually, the then County Board would not approve, despite the fact that the members were joining a newly formed club. It was then appealed to the Munster Council. A meeting of which was held in Croom, Co. Limerick, on Sunday 8th March 1964 - after the Munster cross-country Championships. There was much deliberation, after which the council agreed the transfer, on the technicality that the previous club had not at that point in time registered for the current year.

It was not long before success found its way to the club. On February 16th, 1964, at the juvenile cross-country Championships, at Ballymartle, the club's under 14 boys team took the honours, in bringing the first county title to the club. The winning members of that team were Martin Desmond, Paddy Desmond (both nephews of the chairman), Danny Buckley, Donie Morgan, Derry O'Sullivan, Danny Kissane and Brendan Crowley (the present club secretary), who in 1974 gained senior international honours, in the 400 metres.

The first County title medal, in senior competition, was won by Eddie Culloty (club treasurer), in taking the 561bs for distance, at the Novice Championships that year, one which also saw Billy Good take the 800m novice title, whilst the first all Ireland medal for the club was won by Willie Creedon, at the 1964 championships, held in Gorey. Willie finished second in the long jump - beaten by three quarters of an inch / two centimetres - by the national champion Sean O'Dwyer of Ardgroom.

The first sports meeting promoted by the club was an inter-schools competition for the post-primary schools. The Patton Trophy was presented to the overall winning school. This was held on Friday evening, 22nd May 1964, in the Charlie Hurley Park, followed on the Sunday - May 24th - with the Bandon open sports. The clubs athletes were very active during the 1964 track and field season competition, at such "meets" as Caheragh, Annahadown, Nadd, Skibbereen, Nohoval, Flower Lodge, Millstreet, Blarney, Banteer and Youghal, with their share of success.
The club's first venture into the promotion of cross country was the county novice, on 13th December 1964, over the Kilbeg course, by kind permission of the O'Brien family. John Lynch the best of the club runners on the day. The club has promoted many cross country fixtures since - at Monorone, Clancoolbeg, Upton, Castlebernard and Callatrity. The latter is the present course in use, and is on the lands of Denis Collins, the present club President, who was the county senior cross country champion in 1955.

In 1965, two long standing associations with the club was formed - both Tom O'Neill and his son, Diarmuid became members. Tom became President soon afterwards, and was looked upon as the father figure of the club, until his death. Diarmuid is presently an honory life member of the club. The other association was the transferring of Tadgh Twomey to the club, being a member until his retirement in the early 'eighties.


Tadgh won no fewer than 33 national championship titles.

In 1966, the Sligo born Darrara agricultural student Michael Keane, transferred to the club, and in that year, he won the 60 yards dash, at the National Championships, in Banteer. This completed a hat trick - as he had also won this event in 1964 and 1965. Michael also took a silver, in the 100 yards, at the same 1964 Championships. The following year, whilst attempting to repeat his 60 yard title, he had to withdraw from the final, due to injury, after winning his heat, in 6.3 seconds. That same year, the Dagg Trophy was won for the first time, and the club promoted the Munster track and field championships, for the first time, in the Charlie Hurley Park.

In 1966, the first official from the club to be appointed to the County Board, was John Byrne, and in later years, further club members to serve on the County Board were; Chris Warren, Ben Feehan, Diarmuid O'Neill, Billy Good, Aidan Donnelly, Brendan Crowley and Michael Quinlan.

The following year saw the club take the initiative, in calling a public meeting, at the Devonshire Arms Hotel, on December 11th. This was to obtain views of the locals, on the Town Park, as the club had applied to the Town Commissioners, for a portion of the ground, for use as an athletic track. The notice of the meeting was signed by the Chairman, Billy Good and the Secretary, Diarmuid O'Neill.

The result of that meeting can be seen today, with the amount of development that has taken place over the years. The club held the Southern Region track and field Championships on the new track, in both 1978 and 1979. This park was once described in a letter to the press - in 1966 - somewhat disparagingly. "The Name Town Park seems grand on paper, but this so called park is a piece of waste hill covered with bones and rusty tin-cans - a grand place for a football match or a cycle race, it is also the official camping ground for tinkers".

A lot of progress has been made since work commenced in 1973, once legal difficulties were sorted out, and trustees appointed. At present further development is on-going.

In 1967 and 1969, the McAuliffe Trophy, for the most successful county at the National Juvenile track and field Championships, was won by Cork. Contributing in no small way to the success of 1967, were Bertie Smith, John Sheehan and John Coakley. The trophy was in fact shared with Dublin, in that year, whilst, in 1969, contributing no less than two-thirds of the points total for outright winning, were John Wilmot, Mary Ryan, John Stone, Ann Duggan and Robert Wilmot.

In 1969, the clubs first international honours were achieved by Roger Kingston (junior) Valerie Shortland and Bertie Smith (both schools). The club had to wait, until 1974, for its first senior international - Brendan Crowley, who competed for Ireland, against Iceland and Portugal. Brendan was followed in the international trail by John Sheehan, Catherine Burke, Fiona Connolly, Carmel McCarthy, Cormac O'Connor, Michael Coakley, and more recently, by Paul Kelleher.

Athletes who were prominent during the 'sixties' included John Dromey, Willie Creedon, Tadgh Twomey, Denis Twomey, Eddie Culloty, Billy Good, Donagh Coughlan, Michael Keane, Dan Lynch, Michael Larkin, Bertie Smith, Sean Ryan, James Murphy, Roger Kingston, Mary Ryan, Valerie Shortland, Nora Coughlan, Mary Deasy, Mairead O’Neill, Billy Roycroft, Deirdre Sheehan, Ann O’Riordan, Ann Kelly, Catherine Wilmot, Ann Duggan, Ann Sheehan, John Stone, John Sheehan, Jimmy Sheehan, Robert Wilmot, Mary O’Halloran, Joe Morgan, Roger Patterson, Victor Gash, Joe O’Sullivan, Jim Good, Jerry Canniffe, Gerard O’Mahony, Eileen Duggan, Rose Lehane, Catherine O’Reilly, Ann Canniffe, Christina Walsh, Margaret Duggan, Catherine O’Connor, Mary O’Sullivan, Pa Ryan, Liam O’Reilly, Charles Ryan, John O’Sullivan, Margaret O’Sullivan, Brendan Wilmot, Anita Ryan, Eugene McCarthy, James Wilmot and Noelle Casey, to name but a few.

The ’seventies' saw the club prosper, with its members continuing to be successful at divisional, county, regional and national level. The Taylor-Keith Trophy for the best overall club in the county was won on four occasions during this decade - in 1974, 1975, 1978 and 1979. The Dagg trophy was won for a second time, in 1974.

In 1979 at Upton, the club won the first of its two County men’s Novice cross-country Championships - this after overcoming the firm favourites, Leevale. The winning team was John Hurley, Joe O'Sullivan, Willie Grainger and Der McCarthy. In the same year, Elizabeth Howe and Ann Kelly were members of the Carbery team that won the county senior women's title for the first time. The other novice winning success was in 1986, when the winning team was Tim Lucey, Cormac O’Connor, Ger Daly, James Daly and Ian Harpur.

In 1974, Tadgh Twomey set an new Irish record, for the 561bs over the bar event, breaking Ned Tobin's long standing record. He had been close on a few earlier occasions, but the record was then not ratified, due to technicalities.

During the ’seventies', athletes to the fore included Brendan Crowley, Gerard Coughlan, Tadgh Twomey, Dan Lynch, Pat O'Donovan, Patrick McCarthy, John Stallard, Padraigh Haydon, Finbarr Willmot, Liam Chambers, Michael O'Reilly, Michael Burke, John Roche, Ann Murphy, Anne O'Mahony, Joy Bennett, Joy Good, Ann Sheehan, John Sheehan, Michael Lawson, Brendan Hurley, Jimmy Sheehan, Paudie O’Riordan, Fr Michael Hurley, Bertie Smith, Liam O'Reilly, Richard Conroy, Ray Payne, Michael Lehane, Gerard Crowley, P.J.O'Diiscoll, Vincent O'Donovan, Kieran Kelly, John Merrick, Ciaran Sheehan, Sgt Jim McNamara, Richard Conroy, David Stone, John O’Shea, Mary O'Donovan, Mary O'Reilly, Bernadette O’Donovan, Elizebeth Howe, Joan O'Reilly, Mary Finn, Terry Dineen, Mary Kelly, Mary Slattery, Marie Fleming, Donal Demsey, Catherine Crowley, Noelle Casey, Margo O'Driscoll, Dan O'Driscoll, Aidan Donnelly and Bernie Coughlan. Richard O’Flynn took the National Junior cross-country title, at Killeshin, County Laois, in February 1981, and was selected on the Irish team for the World Junior cross-country Championships that year. On his performance at the national juniors, he was offered an athletics scholarship to Providence College. Richard subsequently competed in the World cross country championships, on five occasions in all, from 1981 to 1993. He was the first club member to be offered an American college scholarship, and was to be followed a few years later by Breda Dennehy, who went to Western Kentucky.

In 1980, both the County Graded track and field Leagues for men and women were won by the club, and our women repeated the performance the following year. The Chris Warren Perpetual Trophy, for the best overall club at the County Junior Championships, was also won by the club. The destination of which went down to the last event on the programme, which was the ladies 4x400m. Here Catherine Burke overtook Carol Leahy of Leevale, in the final few metres, to take the Trophy, by one point, from Leevale. The club also competed in the National Leagues in 1976, as well as during the early ’eighties.

The outstanding juveniles, during the late 'eighties', were Breda Dennehy and Paul Kelleher. Breda competed in the women’s senior World cross country championship, in 1992 and 1993, whilst Paul had a dream debut to his international career, in July 1990, when successfully anchoring the Irish junior team in the 4x400m relay, at an international junior meeting, in Sittard Holland. This gave Ireland its first ever junior team victory in an international track and field competition.

Prominent club members during the 'eighties were John Sheehan, Liam O'Reilly, Brendan O'Donovan, Gabriel Lally, Padraigh McCarthy, Donal Warren, Joe O'Sullivan, John Hurley, Richard O'Flynn. Conor Lynch, Aidan Donnelly, Catherine Burke, Mary Burke, Susan Pope, Hazel Benn, Terry Sheehan, Arthur Beare, Regina O'Donovan, Helen Connolly, Margaret Connolly, Fiona Connolly, Helen Coughlan, Catherine Duggan, Ann Kelly, Margaret Kelly, Teresa Finn, Colm Murphy, Oliver Murphy, Deirdre Murphy, Michael Quinlan, Ivor Burns, Tim Lucey, Jim Lucey, Melany Burns, Ger Daly, Cormac O'Connor, Dermot McCarthy, Ger Corcoran, Brid Dennehy, Colette Dennehy, Ann-Marie O'Donovan, Robert Wilmot, Leonard Waugh, Yvonne Perrott, Tim Lynch, Thomas Crowley, Marion Lynch, Triona Lynch, Declan O'Halloran, Dan O'Driscoll, Paul Kelleher, Michael Coakley* Siobhain O'Connely, David Sullivan, Michael McSweeney, Mark Harte, Chris Dornan, Fr Michael O'Mahony, Tadgh Twomey, Dan Lynch, Gerard Hayes, Lucy Walsh, Joseph O'Connell, John O'Connell, Josephine O'Callaghan, Martina Waugh, Siobhain Waugh, Carmel McCarthy, Stephen McCarthy, Tony McCarthy, Elizabeth Crowley, Brenda Scannell, Ann O'Connell, Dympna McSweeney, Essie O’Leary and Neally O'Leary.

Weight Throwing has always been associated with the club, from Eddie Culloty and Donough Coughlan, initally through to the present. When Tadgh Twomey joined in 1965, the weight event took on a new dimension nationally. Tadgh was ably coached, in his initial years, by George Bennett, and later came under the watchful eye of Sgt. Jim McNamara, and Michael Haydon. During the 'seventies', the club had an abundance of weight throwers, which included Tadgh, Liam Nolan, Jim McNamara, Jimmy Sheehan, John Sheehan, Dan Lynch, Patrick O'Mahony, Denis Twomey, Michael McSweeney, Fr Michael O'Mahony, Sean Canniffe, and Colm Murphy. Tadgh ranks among the greatest of 561bs distance men and, until recent years, also held the national over-the-bar record.

Women's athletics was at its infancy in the early 'sixties, when a women's County Board was formed and independant women's athletic clubs were also founded - prominent among these were Leeside, Emerald Ladies and Bandon Ladies. The Bandon Ladies AC was founded on 21st December 1965, with the following officers and committee -
President: Fr McCarthy, Vice-Presidents: Mrs D Crowley and Mrs T Murphy, Chairperson: Noreen Deasy, Vice-Chairperson: Breda Herlihy, Hon. Secretary: Breda O'Neill, Hon. Treasurer: Nora Coughlan.

Committee: Kathleen O'Sullivan, Loreto Gaffney, Ann Phelan, Peggy Desmond, Murial McKenna, Maureen O'Mahony, Shelia Twomey, Mairead O'Neill, Helen O'Sullivan.

In 1967, Mary Deasy became Chairperson of the County Women's Board, in succession to Betty Cody. The club continued until 1968 when it amalgamated with Bandon AC. Its prominent
athletes during its existence included Nora Coughlan, Mary O'Halloran, Mairead O'Neill, Mary Deasy, Valerie Shortland, Helen O'Sullivan and Margaret O'Sullivan.

The club has also been associated with charitable events, and on eleven occasions, undertook a 70 mile charity run, for two different charities. The Rehabilitation Centre at Upton was the beneficiary on ten of these occasions, and the most recent run was in aid of the Watergate Centre in Bandon.

The 'nineties' has seen the emergence of some top class athletes in Michael Coakley, Paul Kelleher, Breda Dennehy and Richard O'Flynn. In the World cross-country championships of 1993, the club had one senior member on both the Irish women's and men's teams, through the representation of Breda Dennehy and Richard O'Flynn. The club was in fact the first in the county having senior representation on both teams in the same year.

Martin Harte has kept the club to the fore in the throwing events, at the present, and the club has an abundance of talent in its current juvenile ranks, among the better being Margaret Mary Crowley. The veterens are also emerging through Ann Kelly, Essie O'Leary, Betty Conroy, Liam Fleming and Neally O'Leary. The club has always had an extremely hard working committee, and its members also took many officership positions, not alone on the County Board but also the West Cork Board. The club is probably one of the few athletic clubs which has its own Chain of Office, which was kindly presented by the Irish National Building Society on the occasion of the clubs 25th anniversary, having been expertly crafted by Hilsers' of Bandon

The club Chairpersons since its foundation back in 1964 are as follows -

1964/1966 - John Desmond
1969/1972 - Chris Warren
1975 - Donough Coughlan
1981 - Brendan Crowley
1983/1987 - Dan Riordan
1989/1991 - Billy Good
1967/1968 - Billy Good
1973/1974 - George Bennet
1976/1980 - Patrick McCarthy
1982 - Ann Kelly
1988 - Tim Lucey
1992 Liam Fleming



looking back 5 3

St Finbarr's Athletic Club, Christmas, 1978; athletes and officials gathered for the Annual Charity run, outside Musgrave Park. Reggie Hayes, Fergus O'Donovan, John Buckley, Mick O'Riordan, Freddie Gilbert to but a few


looking back 5 4

University College Cork AC; the 1974 Inter-Varsity cross country Champions. Inlcuded are Mary Doyle, Maura Murphy, Joan Fleming, Mary Mclnerney and Elaine Kelly.
This was the start of a sequence of Inter-Varsity victories at cross-country and track & field that continued through the 'seventies'


looking back 5 5

Committee and Officers of Bandon AC, at the 25th Anniversary Celebrations.

 looking back 5 6

club official and well known starter, John McSweeney of Skibbereen.


BELGOOLY AC (Download in PDF Format)

Rosaleen Walsh

Belgooly Athletic Club was established in December 1986, and, in that relatively short period of time, have grown into a very successful BLE/BLOE club.

The number of juvenile athletes amongst the members has increased dramatically, and between them, have countless County, Munster and National titles. Ann Mather was the first to win an All-Ireland medal when she won the girls' under-14 long jump, in 1991. The most recent National success has been Leonard McCarthy, who won an amazing three gold medals, at the National track and field events, at Tullamore. Donna McGrane represented Ireland, at the International level, last year, and was second in the long jump, and a member of the winning relay team.

The amount of time and effort dedicated to the younger members at the club is of great credit to the coaches and juvenile officials at Belgooly.

Back in December 1986, the first committee of Belgooly Athletic Club elected read as follows: President: Dick Copithorne, Chairman: Joe Copithorne, Secretary: Rosaleen Walsh, Treasurer: Tony Dwyer, PRO: Bridie O'Donovan. The current chairman is Flor Lovell, who was elected at the club Annual General Meeting, last November, and Flor is among the many marathon runners at Belgooly AC.

In 1987 the Belgooly senior men's team were third in the Belfast Marathon, with the team being Eddie Mullane, Sean Walsh, Dan Linehan and Joe Copithorne. Eddie Mullane has had honours in the National marathon, and half-marathon Championships. In 1991 Martina Coleman had a very successful cross-country season in the County and Munster Novice Championships, and was awarded the Carrigdhoun Sports Star Athletic Award for her achievements. In recent seasons, Joe Copithorne has been a member of the Cork over 35 cross-country teams, winning silver and bronze medals. Joan Keating has won countless All-Ireland veteran track and field Championship titles in the last two seasons, and was a nomination for a Sports Star Award last year. The club have organised several runs for local Charity Groups, and promote two very popular annual road races - the Belgooly 10 mile, and 4 mile. Belgooly are at the moment planning the upcoming 10 mile, and also have the annual sports meeting in June.

The outstanding achievements of the club were recognised in 1992 when the Lord Mayor of Cork at the time, Denis Creegan, gave the juveniles a reception at Cork City Hall, and last September - Kinsale Urban District Council honoured the club, with a presentation of the Kinsale Coat of Arms.

This year, the club have won the AIB sponsored trophy, for the best West Cork club at the track and field Championships, held over two legs. At the Belgooly Sports, the juveniles were the best overall club, for the second successive year.

The recent All-Ireland honours are yet another chapter in Belgooly's short existence and no doubt there will be many more in the future.

Keep up the good work Belgooly !




Marv Meagher

Blarney/Inniscarra Athletic Club, in the catchment area of the club name, attracts membership from a much greater area than this. It caters for membership, starting with under eight girls and bovs, to senior level. The club has a proud history in both track and field events at all ages.

The success is due to the athletes commitment, and, in the main, to the dedication of the club's excellent coaches. However, great support and hard work by manv people help to make the club the thriving success it is today.

There are records of organised athletics in Blarney back into the last century. Blarnev Sports celebrated its centenary in 1986. Athletics was first organised bv the young G.A.A. until about 1922. when the N.A.C.A.I. became the governing bodv of athletics in Ireland, until 1967.

During this time Blarney Athletic and Cycling Club was a big force to he reckoned with in the County, in Munster, and nationally, as well as internationally, on numerous occasions.

The club had a few lean vears after 1967, when the flag was kept flying bv M.J.Buckley (our President), with the help of a dedicated few, including the late Andy Vaughan. The momentum started again in the '70s, and, because many of the young athletes were from the Inniscarra parish, the club name was changed to Blarney/Inniscarra A.C., in 1976, and catered for mostly juvenile athletes.

The club has gone from strength to strength since then, with senior and juvenile athletes having International titles to their credit, and two athletes are at present on athletics scholarships, in USA. Part of the club's success is because it is a fun club, with weaker athletes just as welcome as the many top athletes. New members are always welcome.

The 1990 season was very successful. In all twenty-nine medals were won at National level, thirtv-one at Munster level, and fiftv-two at county level. Every year the club holds an athletics league, and, for many in the club, this very successful venture is the stepping stone to further successes in the area of track and field athletics.

Valerie Vaughan ranks among the top women runners in the country, and is at home in any event, from the 1,500 metres upwards. She was the 1992 National senior Champion over this distance, and has still much to offer through her athletics. Another senior athlete who has enjoyed much success, although still maturing, is thrower Brain Whitty. He is among the best in the County, and has a particular aptitude for the shot and the 56 pound events, having taken many juvenile and junior National medals. There are many other very promising athletes in club who will break into senior ranks in the coming vears, although of course many have already won many an event, at senior level, already. No less talented is Jerome Murphy, already taking medals, in the shot putt and discus. Edel Meagher is perhaps among the better prospects, already being ranked in the national senior lists, in the shot and discus. A schools' International, Edel is also a capable hurdler and long jumper.



DOHENYS AC (Download in PDF Format)

Catherine Murphy

In the ’forties, the Doheny's Athletic Club, Dunmanway, was among the foremost in the county. At the height of its fame during that period, the Cade Cup - for the best all-round club in the county - was secured among other trophies and laurels. Helping the club in those days were such star competitors as Matt Treacy, Flor Crowley and Paddy Cashel.

Flor was the Irish Goulding hammer champion on a number of occasions, and was also a champion bowl player. Paddy was another noted thrower, and won the Munster shot title many a time.

In time though, the club lapsed, and for many years athletics in the Dunmanway region was non-existent.

In 1972 however, the seeds for revival of the club were sown when Garda Jim Allis was transferred to the town, from Bantry. Jim had been a capable novice sprinter in his time, and wore the Bantry colours with distinction. He got great help in his ideas of reviving the Dohenys Club from former star Matt Treacy, and the local curate Rev Fr Buckley. Fr Buckley was the secretary of the Caheragh Novice Sports Committee, when he ministered there.

The following year, in November, the Club was revived, through a meeting at the Bostonian Hotel. Representatives of all the local sporting interests were present, for the purpose of the re-launch. Martin Lynch, chairman of the County Board, Donie Duggan, secretary, and Billy Nestor, PRO, all travelled from Cork for the meeting.

The Club officers elected on the night were as follows - President; Canon Watts, Chairman; Matt Treacy, Vice-Chairman; Rev Fr Buckley and Joe Mannix, Secretary; Jim Allis, Assistant Secretary; D Kingston, Treasurer; D Cronin, PRO; D Frost.

The original green and white of the Dohenys was adopted as club colours, and the first priority was the re-establishment of the Dunmanway Open Sports.

These continued for many years, and into the ’eighties, as the Club went from strength to strength. These local open sports attracted many an athlete, and there were visitors from all over Munster, and of course Cork. Fanahan McSweeney of Grange was among those who was a regular at the sports during the 'seventies.

Among the top athletes in the Club in recent years, include the Mannix brothers, both of whom were very capable shot putters, and carried off many a prize, and County Championship. Joe was an officer of the club for many years. Another very prominent athlete in his day was Sammy Beamish. Sam could match strides with the best sprinters in the County and Province, and this at a time when a National Championship final would not be the same without three or four from the County.

Sam was the recorder of the Cork County Board for some three years. As such he continued the new club’s tradition in this particular field, as his immediate predecessor as County Board recorder was none other than Jim Allis himself!



EAGLE AC (Download in PDF Format)

Paddy Linehan
Among the youngest of the clubs in the county, Eagle Track Club as it was originally known, was the brainchild of Fred Gilbert. Fred was formally a well known coach with the juvenile section of the St Finbarr's Athletic Club. Eagle Track came into being at the start of the 1982/83 cross country season and since then the club has provided the Cork area with many a fine athlete. Eagle were formed to cater for juveniles initially. In a 1984 interview for 'Marathon' magazine he outlined the aims and ideals of the club were 'to cater for Juvenile athletics and to prepare them for the area of Senior athletics. In our minds any victories for our juveniles are a bonus to our aims'.

Among the better known names in the early years of the club were Tony Gilbert, a middle distance runner who won a scholarship to the University of Lowell near Boston and Fidelma Kirwan, a Celtic and schools' 400 metre hurdles international. Tony's brother, Declan, followed him on athletic scholarship to Lowell and a third runner to secure a similar crossing of Atlantic to America was Tony O'Gorman, who went to Minnesota.

In its very first year Eagle Track competed in the Omega League Division 'B' and at juvenile level there was a fourth place for Declan Gilbert in the national under-16 steeplechase and gold for Fidelma Kirwan in the girls under-17 400 metre hurdles and a silver in the 200 metres. Over the years the successes have accumulated with athletes securing National medals in the throws, jumps, walks, sprints and middle distance events.

Much of this success is due to the skilful coaching at the Club; from its early years there was Fred Gilbert and Mick Clancy. Since then the coaches in the club have included Mick Sheehan, Denis Aherne, Donal Cronin, Paddy Linehan, Colm Murphy, Liam Doherty, Pat Harrington and Catherine Murphy. Paddy Linehan is of course well known for his expertise in the throws as is Colm Murphy, a former National throws coach and currently the National triple jump coach.

Sprinting at the Club was at a high standard for many a year - under the care of Denis Ahearne. The quartet of Donal Cronin, John Corr, Mark Smyth and Gary Aherne were among the best squad in the country and indeed proved this at Provincial and at National level.

Over the years many a successful thrower has donned the club singlet. The three Linehan sisters - Noreen, Helen and Kathy accumulated many a County, Regional and National medal, with Noreen among the pioneers   of women's hammer throwing in Ireland. This past Summer she secured an international 'cap' as Ireland were represented internationally in this event for the first time.

Pat O'Leary was yet another very capable thrower. Specialising in the shot putt, he was a regular over the 13 metre mark. He was also quite an exponent with the 56 pound weight. Paul Lynch and Seamus Manning were   both 40 metre plus hammer throwers and Kieran Stack, when not steeplechasing, proved a very able javelin thrower.

Currently the club boasts of several first rate weight throwers; at senior level there is Johnathan McSweeney in the shot, Tim O'Herlihy in the discus, Martin O’Sullivan and Noreen Linehan in the hammer, and Colm Murphy who is making a comeback after a lay-off of a decade. All are under the guidance of Paddy Linehan.

On the track, Fidelma Kirwan remains among the top women 400 metre hurdlers in the country, and Ann-Marie Healy has made great progress in her training, over the past winter. At longer distances, national medals have been won at a number of distances, up to and including the marathon, and such as Joe Murphy, Eddie Noonan, Denis Hegarty, Pat Murphy and Tommy Ryan have ensured that the Club's name is never far from the final placings.

Many of the latter have taken a great interest in mountain running, and indeed the Club is very active in promoting this activity, in the Munster area. Besides organising the Munster Championships, Eagle Athletic Club also provide the majority of medal winners at regional and at national level.

The juvenile section of the club boasts of many exciting prospects, and the care that Donal Cronin, Liam Doherty, Pat Harrington and Paddy Linehan have of their charges speaks well of the Club as a whole. Susan O'Rourke and Ciaran Foley are among those youngsters to benefit.

The veterans section of the club is strong, and such household names as Michael Kiely and Hughie McSweeney compete in the club singlet. Both are national champions, of course, and have competed successfully abroad. The two secured medals at the last World Veterans' Indoor Championships, in Budapest, Hungary, in 1991, with Michael taking a double gold, and silver, and Hughie taking two bronzes. The club is growing in numbers in this area, and names for the future include Joe Murphy, Ted Twomey, Catherine Murphy and Ebhena Finnegan.

As a finale, mention must be made of the two main promotions of the Club. In March annually, the 'Carrigaline 5' is run off, with all the top athletes in the county and beyond taking part. This ranks among the few athletic promotions in the town. Last August, the Club organised the first ever throwers only meeting. All the usual throwing events - to include the hammer and 56 pound for distance events - were included on what was a lengthy programme. The sports was well supported, and all the top throwers in the country were in Cork for the evening's activities, with Nick Sweeney throwing a new all-comers Irish discus record of 60.38 metres, and, for good measure, had also the furthest mark for the 56 for distance for many a year - 8.48 metres.

At County Board and Southern Region level, the Club has provided many an official. Paddy Linehan was active on the County BLOE Board, and, presently, Colm Murphy and Catherine Murphy are BLE County Board PRO and Secretary respectively. Colm is also the National Triple Jump Coach, and all three are very active as officials at meetings up and down the length and breadth of Ireland.

A very active club - both in active participation and indeed in the promotion of athletics.



EAST CORK AC (Download in PDF Format)

Liam O'Brien

The club was founded in November 1985, in an attempt to amalgamate the existing senior clubs within the East Cork division. Father Liam O'Brien was the club's first Chairman, and he remained in that post for a further two years'. Barry Moran was club Chairman in 1989, and he was followed in that post by Bryan Meade, who filled the position until John Reidy assumed control, in 1993.

The club has had but two secretaries - Paul Mulholland for three years, from 1986, and Liam O'Brien, who began his secretarial duties in 1990, and still remains in this position. The post of Treasurer has, since the club's inception, been in the capable hands of Gerry Wallace.

Middle distance running, particularly on the road and cross-country, has been the main area of success for the club. In the men's category, Liam O'Brien, Donncha O'Mahony, Bryan Meade. Gerry Wallace, John Kearney, Martin Drake and Tom Owens have achieved notable successes.

The County senior cross-country Championship has escaped the club only once over the past eight years, and there have been individual Championship winners through Liam O'Brien, in 1989, and Donncha O'Mahony, who enjoyed a hat trick of successes in 1990, 1991 and 1992. There were also county novice championship successes.

At Southern Region level, the club won the cross-country title in 1987, 1988, 1990 and 1991, with the duo of Liam O'Brien and Donncha O'Mahony taking individual gold on no less than five occasions between them, in this period.

At National senior level, there was a bronze in 1989, and various medals for both individual and team, at National intermediate standard.

Success has not been confined to the cross-country courses either, as National road relay medals were secured by the club, in 1988 and 1991 - gold; 1986. 1987, 1989 and 1993 - silver, and a bronze in 1990.

Paul Mulholland. Frank Cashman, John Walsh, George and Freddy Walsh have been leading figures in veterans races nationwide. Here again, the club enjoyed National success at inter-club level, in 1986 and 1988. All are prominent on the road running circuit, throughout the year.

During the summer, the standards have been equally maintained, with the East Cork club being the National track & field 'B' Division champions, in 1987. There was also gold for the trio that represented the club in the National track and field relay championships, in the 5,000 metre event, in 1990, and, of course, the successes at individual level of such as Liam O'Brien and Donncha O'Mahony, over the past few years, are well known among athletic enthusiasts throughout the country, especially with the former's domination of the steeplechase at the National championships.

In the ladies section, Eileen Prunty was the early standard bearer, later to be followed by Mary Sheehan, and at the present time, Angela Murphy is one of the top juniors in the country.


GRANGE/FERMOY AC (Download in PDF Format)

The Grange/Ferraoy Athletic Club was founded in 1960 by the late Paul Barry of Fermoy. The election of officers at the first AGM resulted in the following being elected; President - Fr John Kelleher; Chairman - Paul Barry; Secretary - Bernard Dempsey and Treasurer - Bob Burke.
The Club's first ma.ior victory came in its second year when James Cummins won the county novice cross country championship. From there on the club went from strength to strength and won many major events - in 1965 the club claimed all the county cross country team titles - novice, junior, intermediate, senior and youths - a feat that has never been equalled since. In 1966 the club took part in the 170 mile relay commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Rising. This relay commenced in Rosmuc in Galway and finished at the GPO in Dublin. The team of S.Roche, J.Meligan. J.D.Murphy. J.Beecher. D.Turner, T.J.O'Reilly, D.Cummins. C.O'Connell, J.Morrissey and R.Buckley had the honour of finishing first.

One of the club's most famous athletes John Hartnett won the World Junior Cross Country title at Vichy in France in 1970. This was to be the start of a very illustrious career in athletics for John. Another prominent Athlete in the Club at this time was Fanahan McSweeney who held both National and European Records. The icing on the cake came in 1972 for both John and Fanahan when they competed at the Olympic Games in Munich.

The women members of the Grange Club made their first major impact on the Cross Country scene by winning the County Senior League, County under 18 championship, Munster under 18 championship. National under 18 championship, Munster senior and National Senior championships all in the same year, 1974. The above victories were achieved by just the five M.Mellerick, D.Mellerick, M.Lehane, M.Roche and T.Roche. That same year M.Mellerick made the Irish Senior team and Eddie Hartnett made the Irish junior men's team to run in the world cross country at Monza in Italy.

However all honours did not go to the senior athletes. The Juveniles of the club were among the best in the Country, winning numerous county, munster and national titles. If space allowed it, we could list many, many more outstanding successes over the years and thankfully at this present time, the club has some very dedicated and promising.athletes.

Another monument in the history of the club was the hosting of the Grange International Cross Country for a number of years and some of the top athletes in the world took part in this event each year. This annual event ranked among the top cross¬country events in the world and all the leading runners of the time made their way to Fermoy. Athletes from Europe, Africa and the American continent were regular visitors.

A life time ambition of the club was to lay its own all weather track. 1991 saw this dream come true when sufficient funds were raised and work set in motion. The track was officially opened by none other than Fanahan McSweeney, in 1992.



LEEVALE AC (Download in PDF Format)

Fr Nessan & John Sheehan
The spectacular success of Leevale AC has been one of the outstanding features of modern sport in Cork county. That success has been determined not only by the power of the athletes but more so by the manner in which the founder clubs organised and popularized athletics amongst the youth. Fr. Mathew AC started simply as a juvenile club supported and financed by the Fr. Mathew Hall. This new club organised training facilities for the many boys in the city who were not attached to established clubs and was strongly supported by the games-master from various schools and members of Montenotte AC who threw in their lot with the new idea.
From the beginning the club was successful for the simple reason that there was a demand for juvenile organisation and the men behind Fr. Mathew AC had the dedication and efficiency to supply it. After about three years as some boys were moving beyond under-age ranks the club made a major decision: for the purpose of senior athletics, they decided to seek amalgamation with Hilltown AC, but to maintain the independence of Fr. Mathew, as an independent juvenile club.

Hilltown AC, originally based in the Carrigaline area, had been founded in 1956, and always paid special attention to its juvenile are. That policy paid rich dividends with the result that the club became one of the most formidable in the county particularly when it moved into Douglas-Ballinlough district. Hilltown accepted the offer of amalgamation made by Fr. Mathew, and so Leevale AC was born. Hilltown juveniles however, continued as a separate club, and with Fr. Mathew Juvenile AC provided a powerful source of material for the parent, Leevale Hub. The formation of a ladies section, in 1968, added to the strength and attractiveness of the new combination.

In a very short time, Leevale became one of the foremost athletic forces in the country. They have won almost every honour which the sport in Ireland could offer: they have assisted at every level of administration, and spread their influence to areas where organised athletics was unknown. Today the club stands with a brilliant past; it is determined on a long and greater future.

Te early years of the club were full of successes. In the sprints the Walley brothers, Ann and Finbar Jeffords and Conal Courtney were but a few, who secured International recognition and National medals. Brendan Mooney was our foremost quarter man in the 'seventies, and the middle and long distance events were in the very capable hands of Donie Walsh, Dick Hodgins, Joe O’Flynn and Pat O'Riordan. Seamus Power was the best high hurdler in the country and John Hunter ensured that the longer hurdles event was also well contested. The throws were in the capable hands of Brendan Coughlan and Paddy Moore. The club boasted of several top class jumpers too; in the high there was John FitzGibbon, and, somewhat later, Brendan Cronin and Dave Murray, who was a National Champion and International, as was Hick O'Flynn, for many years, the best triple jumper in the country. Colm Cronin became National record holder in that event, in the late 'seventies, and another good exponent of the event was Fintan O'Shea.

With so much talent, it was hardly surprising that honours came rapidly, and in quick succession, to Leevale. The National track and field leagues were won for three years in succession, from their inception. Over cross-country, Donie Walsh proved himself the National champion several times, and on the roads, there were few in the country better. The Quinlan, Miskimmon and Oman Cups were all won regularily, and National marathon titles fell to Donie Walsh, and Dick Hodgins.

Leevale were also the first club from Ireland to compete in the European inter-club contest, and were also the first club to win an inter-club International cross-country abroad. Thus the club was very vibrant from its inception.

In the 'eighties', Micheal Kiernan showed just how good a sprinter he was, through being a National Champion, and other high class athletes in these years included Tony O'Leary, Paul and Aidan O'Regan, and Ger Horan. All did well at Provincial, and National level.

This situation continues to the present day, with many top class athletes still in the Leevale colours. The Haddock brothers are still the duo to beat at National level, to secure medals, and Tim Barry, Mick Murphy, and Stephen Fleming are all top class sprinters. Middle and long distance running is in the hands of the very capable Pat Shine, Der O'Donovan, Ray Shanahan, Brother John Dooley and Dick Hodgins, who ensure that there is quite a pool of talent under their firm grip. Middle and long distance running has always been a highlight, and, besides the exploits of Marcus O'Sullivan, others to have come to the forefront, include Mark Carroll, Dave Healy, Trevor Foolkes, Darren Keenan, Ken Nason, John Murray and Declan O'Callaghan, to name but a few of the very talented crop.

Brid Murphy won the National marathon Championship in 1992, thereby carrying on that particular tradition in the club. The women won the National 'B' League last year, this through quite an all-round effort, rather than any one individual. Although it should be added that Clair Ingerton scored well, and is among the top long jumpers in the country.

In the throws, Paddy Moore is as youthful as ever, and, last year, had the distinction of winning National Championship medals, in the 'sixties', 'seventies', 'eighties', and now, of course, the 'nineties. Paddy won his first National medal in 1967, and on the 25th Anniversary Championship, was still throwing well enough for a bronze. This year (1993), he broke the National over 45 best in the javelin, with a return of 57.48 - a distance just off the bronze! At a younger age is Dyan Sheehan, who is among a good group of youthful throwers in the Club. The high jump is in the hands of Peter Ruby, who is capable at the moment of clearing 2.10 metres, and the Hallahan brothers, Michael, and Brian, are two very talented horizontal jumpers. Michael is an Irish international, in the long, and has a best of 7.38 metres. Among the hurdlers in the Club are brother and sister, Dave and Aisling Power, whose father was a Champion in his time.

The future looks very bright.


MALLOW AC (Download in PDF Format)

Pat Kerrigan
In the early 'seventies', Mallow AC joined up with Banteer AC, to form the one club, being now known as Mallow-Banteer AC. In 1977, Mallow reverted back to town, and the club now formed was Mallow AC - as it is known today.

Pat Kerrigan took the secretary position in 1980, and at the time, many of the elder members were not involved. Several younger athletes joined the club, and at present there are, in all, some 25 registered active athletes.

The club promotes two road races in Mallow; the Folk Festival 4 Mile is usually held in late July, or early August, and always attracts large entries. Going to long distances - in 1981 a novel idea came up for a road race, and born was the 'Mallow Metric Marathon' - a distance of 26 kilometres. At the first race there were 225 runners, that was in 1981. The following year there were 250 runners, in 1983, 350 and in 1984, 154. These were held in the month of September, and, with the drop in numbers the distance, in 1985, was shortened to a 10 mile. The race has been held every year since, and it is popular among athletes.

The club promoted the Cork County novice cross-country Championships in 1982, and the novice 'B' in 1983. The club has had a good record in athletics down the years, with runners selected on Cork teams in cross-country and road championships. Many medals have been won - from National to Munster. The club were 3rd team in the National 25 kilometre Road Championships, in Ennis, in 1982, with Pat Kerrigan finishing 4th in the same race. In 1986, the club won the All-Ireland inter club half marathon, held in Limerick.

Most of the members have done the marathons in Cork and Dublin, also some have competed in the New York, London, Stockholm, and Gotenborg marathons. Pat Kerrigan has won many races on the road, cross-country and track, and has also competed in 12 marathons, with a personal best of 2:32. Andy Neenan has a good record in road, cross-country and track, and has also been selected on various Cork teams. He has also run several marathons, and has a personal best of 2:33.

Peter Gaffney took silver in the National Marathons held in Clonmel, in 1990 and 1993, in the over 50 category.
Eileen Lynam has been running for many years, and has won many road and cross-country events. She took bronze in the National Marathon, in the over 35 category, silver, this year, in the National 'vets' 800 metres, and has won many medals with Cork, in road and cross country.

John Robinson is another with a successful career on the roads, cross-country and track, and has won medals at County, Regional and National level. Mary Murphy has been with the club for many years, and has won many road races. She won the first ever womens 10k in Cork, in 1983. Mary has also competed in marathons in Cork and Dublin.

Other members who compete are John Holland, Dan Nagle, Jerry McCarthy, Jerry Horgan, Jerome Riordan, Dan Byrne, Paddy Gyves, Eileen Guiney, Ann Gaffney, Catherine Moloney, and John Flynn.


MIDLETON AC (Download in PDF Format)

Tom Houlihan
Midleton AC has figured prominently over the years on the Cork County athletics scene, since its formation, on Monday October 17th, 1966.

The first cross-country fixture hosted by the club was the FCA/Army Championships, on Sunday November 20th of the same year, on the lands of Noel Hales, at Bilbery, Midleton. Over the years cross-country championships and road races have been regularly organised and promoted by the club.

Over the years many top class athletes have donned the club singlet, not only over cross-country, and on the roads, but also in track and field competition, and at both BLE and BLOE level. Many club athletes have represented Ireland at international competition, in both juvenile and senior grades. Our most recent juvenile representatives at international level were Laura Hegarty and Kenneth Treacy, both of whom won their respective events - Kenneth the high jump, and Laura, the sprint hurdles. At senior level, the best known former club member must be Liam O'Brien, who competed in the steeplechase, at the 1984 Olympic Games, in Los Angles. Liam has also competed for Ireland at cross-country, and he has won the Irish steeplechase title on no less than ten occasions.

Kathleen Glavin was also another well known International competitor, specialising in the long jump, and in the sprint hurdles. Kathleen set Irish records in both these events on several occasions. Joe Brice was yet another club athlete who set Irish records, in the shot putt and discus, the event for which he is best remembered. His record for the discus stood for a good number of years. Other former top athletes in the club include Mary Fleming, Linda Barrett, Mary and Rosemary Dunne, John Curran, Kenneth P. Horgan, Kenneth L. Horgan, and Tom Walsh. The well known athletics figure, Fr Liam Kelleher, was with the club for many years. and did much to promote Midleton AC at county, regional and at national level.

The first chairman of the club was Paddy Hartnett, who later became chairman of the Cork County BLE Board. Another former chairman, Phil Glavin, was for several years chairman of the last Cork BLE/BLOE Board.

Each year, the club promotes an open five mile road race, on the first Thursday of May, an open juvenile and novice sports, on the second Sunday of August, and an open juvenile and novice cross-country meeting, on the second Sunday of September. There is also a series of four two-mile fun runs, in March and April, which is always very well supported, even by athletes outside of the club.

Some years ago, a synthetic floor was laid on our indoor track. This is a straight track, some fifty metres in length, on which athletes can train for sprints, hurdles, and such like, during the long and bleak winter months. There is also a long jump pit at the end of this track, and there are also facilities for high jump training.

The club at the moment has a good number of good 'up and coming' athletes, with a bright future ahead.


NORTH CORK AC (Download in PDF Format)

Maura Doyle
The North Cork Athletic Club was formed in 1981, and, since then, has known many successes, in both track and cross-country, and on the roads.

The club won the trophy for the best cross-country BLOE club, in 1988, and 1989, and successes over the years at this level of competition has been continuous. Several of these juvenile athletes have come through the ranks, and have gained equal success at senior level. Kieran Stack, Garret Barry and Geoffery Sheehan all won the National junior steeplechase, between 1983 and 1987, quite some run in the one event. Garret has of course more recently been one of the premier middle distance runners in the country, being then National indoor 1,500 metres Champion. He also won the 1992 outdoor Championship at this level, as well as having taken gold, in the 1992 National indoor 3,000 metres.

At the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, the club was represented through Barbara Johnson. Having qualified through a great run at the National Championships, Barbara duly took her place for the Olympic 400 metre hurdles. Kieran Stack narrowly missed the qualifying time for the 3,000 metres steeplechase, which was very unfortunate both for himself and indeed the club.

However there was another Olympian, in the form of Peter Maher, who ran for the North Cork AC when he lived in Ireland during the mid ’eighties. Peter represented Canada in the Olympic marathon last time, and of course has since competed in the World Championships for his adopted country.

At National level there have been many successes. Back in 1984, Sheila Curtin won the ladies section of Cork City Marathon. Geremiah Twomey won the National senior cross-country, and added the 5,000 metre schools' track title, for good measure - both in 1988. Anita Philpott won All-Ireland cross-country championship at under 14, under 15, under 16, under 17 and at under 18 level - quite some achievement. Among her main rivals was none other than Sonia O’Sullivan, and in no less than twenty five meetings between the two the balance is with Anita - 23 to 2! Anita is the current National 1500 metre Champion.

Michelle Moloney won National junior championship cross-country at 14 years. In 1988, John Murray won the national under 16 and under 17 cross-country championship. The talent continues to the present day, with Annette Quaid among the better prospects. She is the current National under 16 800 metre indoor Champion. Another to the fore at the present is Maria Madigan, the under 16 high jump silver medalist.

At the present, the club is busy preparing for the 3rd annual Charleville 10 mile road race. John Lenihan of Riocht won the event in 1991, in a time of 50:50, and the following year Roy Dooney of DCH won in 49:52. Brid Murphy of Leevale won the women's race in 1991, in 59:53, and last year Ursula Noctor won in 57:21. It was with great sadness that we heard of the loss of this great athlete, in March this year. The club intends to put forward the "Ursula Noctor" perpetual trophy in this year's Charleville 10 mile race, in memory of this great athlete.



Reggie Hayes
The club was founded in 1951 as an extension of the Boys Club zj Canon Cashman RIP, Dick Day, Mick Barry RIP and Paddy Hennessy, becoming affiliated to the then NACA Cork County Athletics' Board. With the formation of BLE, in 1967, the club became affiliated to the new athletics organization.

St Finbarr's has been one of the strongest clubs in BLE, since its inception, and has been involved in every facet, from competition, through administration and officiating, and the general promotion of athletics.

During the period of time since the formation of BLE, we have had a number of homes. At the formation of BLE, we were based in Kate Kearneys, or Musgrave Park - to the uninitiated. We then moved to Carrigmore, the home of Old Christians. After that we moved to the Model Yacht club, on the Lough, which we rented, and then moved to C.B.C., in Landsdown - the top of St. Patricks Hill.

Each time we moved premises we tended to lose quite a number of our juvenile members, and so, on the 18th of July 1977, a Special General Meeting of the club was held, at which it was decided that we would build a club at the Lough, and the official opening was held on April 30th 1978, and was opened by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Mr Gerald Goldberg. We were the first rlub in Cork to build our own club house. This we felt was very important for all the members, and so the club was naturally very strong as a result.

We were also one of the first clubs to admit female members, long before equality of opportunity, and we were extremely lucky with the members that we had. Among some of our top ones were Elaine Kelly, Joan Fleming, Mary Doyle, Mary O'Sullivan, Mary Endes, Eleanor English, Ann Coughlan, Doris Manning, Joy Good, Marion Stanton, Mary Dempsey, Rose Crockett, Rose O'Brien, Rita Brien, Rita Murphy, Joan and Mary O'Neill, Catherine O'Leary, Betty Herlihy, and many many more. Most of these winning county, regional and national titles on the roads and over cross-country, and in track and field generally. Some also achieved International success.

On the men's side we were also extremely powerful with many household names the like of John and Denis Buckley, Jack and Flor O'Leary, Fergus O'Donovan, Joe Barry, Noble and Barry Johnson, Ritchie Crowley, Pat O'Connell, Thomas McCarthy, Ricki Burke, Michael and Denis Dooley, Jerry Beckett, Denis Manning, Pat Ryan, Billy Horgan, Noel Shannon, Len Braham, the Crotty brothers, Declan Ahern, John 0'Kelly-Lynch, Colm Murphy, Joe Emmett, Bill Thierfelder, Pat Nugent, Pat Moore, Frank Lonergan, Martin and Pat Lynch, among many many more.

During the period that we were based between the Lough and C.B.C., we developed a massive gathering of top juveniles, some sent to us by Brother McGrath, such as Owen, Tom and Jim Croty, Declan Ahern. Then Fred Gilbert brought his two sons Tony and Declan, add to that Terry Comiskey. The Ryan twins, Donal and Edward, were also very capable athletes, and this was a very exciting time for Cork athletics, and the St Finbarr's Athletic Club itself.

As I mentioned already, as part of our commitment to the development of athletics in Cork, we promoted many fixtures, both at track and field level, and cross country. Some of our major ones were the county senior track and field, and also the county junior track and field. Cross country was obviously a difficult one to promote, being a city club, however we did manage to promote the county senior cross country, and also the novice.

We have continued this to this day, and still continue to promote, many road races. We also originally promoted some street leagues, with the intention of initiating new members into the club. At present, the club promotes the Nike Cork City Half Marathon, which ranks the nearest in prestige to the Ballycotton race, and this coming year will also incorporate the national half marathon championship.

In the early 'eighties - during the great jogging boom - the club was again to the fore in promoting this section of the sport, under the watchful eye of Bart O'Sullivan and Humphrey Kerins. Many of our present ladies section has come through these ranks.

Also, as the club has matured, we have also developed a very strong veteran's section, and stalwarths such as Eric Crockett, Flor and Jack O'leary, Pat Ryan, and many many more, have become rejuvenated. The most outstanding has obviously been John Buckley, and his crowning achievement has been his medals haul in the World Veteran's Championships, last year, and how proud we all were to meet him on his return. John, of course, has accumulated quite an outstanding collection of European and World championship medals in recent years.

As I have already mentioned, we have also participated at every facet of the sport, and this has also been seen at County Regional and National level. Many of our people first gained excellent grounding at club and commitee level, before going to board meetings, and then further developing into officer material.

The County Board was under the chairmanship of John O'Connell for many years, to be followed by Martin Lynch, Reg Hayes, and Michael Dooley. Martin later went on to the Regional Council, and became secretary, and Reg was the first County Board Chairman to serve two terms - covering six years in all - in that position. Other officers at County level include Pat Buckley, who was Vice Chairman, and, at present, Tom Stanton continues the traditon of officership. Pierce McNamara was also an officer at Southern Region level, and Bill Nestor served as County Board Starter for many a year, and was also County Board Secretary and PRO. Reg Hayes, of course, later went on to become Vice Chairman of the Regional Council, and eventually became National President.

However, we have no fear for the future of the club, with the great tradition that it has behind it, it will continue to develop, and you will find that the club can hold its head with pride, and we will all be looking forward to the 50th celebrations, at the turn of the century


Skibbereen AC

Pat Walsh
Skibbereen AC would be one of the smaller clubs in the county, but, nonetheless, have contributed in no small way to the development of athletics in the region. Primarily a BLOE club, it covers an area from Roscarbery to Drimoleague, and, to the west, as far as Schull.

Some of the highlights for the club over the years have been the holding of the County senior track and field Championships, and the senior cross-country Championships, in the ’seventies. Over the years, there have been a number of significant performances by members of this small club, most notable of these would be: Margaret Cadogan - winner of the gold medal in the All-Ireland Colleges, in 1976, in the 1.500 metres. She also represented Ireland on five occasions. Richard O’Donovan was second in the All-Ireland Colleges 1,500, in 1975, in which John Tracey was third. Peter O'Sullivan was 440 youth champion, at Munster level, and at All-Ireland level for the Army.

Billy Flaherty is one of the new generation of athletes who has won many cross-country races for Cork - Munster Novice, Munster U23, second in the Munster Intermediate, winner of the County intermediate, in 1992, and led the club to first team prize in that event. In 1992 also he won the County Senior 800 metres.

Margaret Cadogan, in the 'seventies, kept Skibbereen colours flying at County, Provincial and at All-Ireland level, and indeed went on to represent Ireland in the Home Counties International, in which she was seventh. She was second in the 1,500 metres in an International in 1977. She qualified for the AAA Championships that year, but a serious iniury prevented her from competing, and also brought her running career, effectively, to a premature end. She was coached by the late John McSweeney, and Brother Domnic, of the De Salle Brothers. After finishing her running career, she did become involved in coaching the young athletes of the club, and of course is now a PE teacher in Skibbereen.

John McSweeney was, without doubt, the most hard working and diligent club official that the club has had. He occupied all positions of officership in the club, as well as being Chairman and PRO of the West Cork Board. Without doubt it, can be said that the club would have closed down at least temporarily - without him - in the 'eighties. When he retired from the railway, in the late 'sixties, athletics became his chief interest, and he was involved not only in administration, but in coaching young athletes of all ages. He was a prominent starter at track and field events and cross-country, at County level, for many years. Together with his brother. Michael, he had a huge role to play in guiding the fortunes of athletes like Margaret Cadogan, Ann O'Sullivan and Ina Kingston. Both were unselfish in transporting athletes to events all over Munster.

When John passed away in 1991 the club lost one of its most treasured members.

The club continues to grow and remains very much a vibrant body both in West Cork and in the County at large.



Tom Morgan
The Togher Athletic Club recently celebrated its silver jubilee, and, as such, has been very much associated with BLE, since its inception. It is with some satisfaction that the club can look back on the twenty five year plus history, and revel in the talent that has captured some of the most prized achievements in Irish athletics over these years.

The club now, as in the past, has produced athletes that have gained renown, at both National and International level. Among the most cherished achievement among folk in Togher would have to be the winning of the Drifter Cup for, the best juvenile club in Ireland in 1987.

The dedication of trainers and officials, working in combination with some of the top juvenile talent in the country, and the fostering of a deep commitment to team spirit, were the principal reasons for that particular success. If there was any doubt about the club’s supremacy, they stamped home their all powerful authority, by becoming the best juvenile outfit in Ireland for the second year in 1988.

In the same year, the club’s youngsters were unbeatable in Munster. They proved it by winning the award for the best juvenile club in the province.

Successes in recent years have not been confined to the juveniles. The O'Duffy Cup, for the best club at the Cork County senior track & field Championships, was won in 1989, and retained in 1990, and the club also came out tops in the graded Cork Leagues, in both the mens’ and womens’ sections, at the same time.

Boosted by their achievements in both senior and juvenile competitions, they entered a team in the mens "B" section of the AIB National League, duly finished 3rd.

Subsequently, the club entered the history books, when it became the first to win the inaugural Munster senior league competition. In addition, Togher also won the 4X100 metres National senior mens’ relay title the same year.
Currently the club has a very strong senior section, and a very promising juvenile and veterans outfit. Indeed the future for Togher looks paved with gold.

Established in 1966, the club was set up to offer a social and healthy, sporting outlet to the large young population of Togher. Founder members were Ted Murray, a past chairman of the Cork County Board, the late Liam Daly, a well known athlete in the area, and Tom Morgan, who remains very active within the club.

In the early days, most of the successes came in cross-country. But there was a pronounced swing to track and field with the coming of coaches such as Mossy Cotter, Sean McSweeney, Dan O’Mahony and Mick Dennehy.

Over the years, there have been many improvements in the club, and a club house was among the many efforts made to ensure that the club’s athletes were catered for in a constructive manner. As for the future? Well the club is certainly on a great footing, and there are many first rate athletes making their way through to the senior ranks.

Leading the juvenile ranks is formidable hurdler and sprinter Deborah Brady. She has already gained International recognition, competing with the Irish team, in Celtic Internationals. She also dominates her events on the National front - winning at 80 metres hurdles, 200 metres hurdles, and 100 metres.

Another great prospect is Liam Clinton. He was on the 4X400 metres relay team that contested the European Junior Championships, in Yugoslavia, in 1989, and the club was also represented at the World juniors a year later, when Darren Haddock was a member of the 4X100 metres team that set a new Irish Junior record.

Fergal Turbridy and Ebor Benson are sure to figure in the world of athletics in the future as both have great reserves of natural talent. Fergal made a promising debut as a decathlete this year in the County Championship, and here his all-round ability was very much to the fore. With practise, he can only improve, and the future is very much open to him.   Ebor too secured County honours, in the area of multi-events, this year, at BLOE level. So again yet another prospect in this particular field of athletics.

Talent and victory is not confined to short distanced events either. Faye Boyle is a member of the Cork junior - under 18 - cross country squad, and is a distance runner of the future. There are many promising long jumpers in the club, and among those with a bright future, are Ross O'Callaghan and Niamh Savage. Both have already won medals up to and including National level. Both are capable sprinters, and once strength is developed, they can only go from strength to strength in the coming years.

The renowned Valerie O'Mahoney is set for a comeback following the recent birth of her second baby. Valerie hit one of the many high points in her career at National and International level, when she won the National senior 1,500 metres in 1989. There have also been many successes over cross country, and indeed Valerie remains one of the County's best ever women athletes.

Several members of the club have become involved at County level. Ted Murray was treasurer of the County Board, from 1975 until 1982. Yet Ted's contribution was not to end here, as, in 1989, he was elected chairman of the Board, in succession to Fr Liam O'Brien. Mossie Cotter was also treasurer of the Board, and, indeed, was also recorder in 1987, and 1988. George Spicer is of course well known for the promotion of veterans' athletics. He has been the 'vets' representative to the County Board for many years, and this year was elected competitions' secretary. Finally John Hayes was elected on to the County Board track & field sub-committee, in 1992.

The club house is re-built, after damage was caused due to a fire. Here the co-operation of all members was sought and indeed given freely. The club house is again back in action, and is a great boost to the club, being, as it is, the headquarters of Togher Athletic Club.




Colm Murphy
The University athletic club ranks among the oldest anywhere in the world, being in existence now for well over one hundred and thirty years. In that time, there has been huge changes in athletics, and the club has survived through these many eras. Over the past twenty five years, there have been many a notable athlete donning the 'skull and crossbones', and several of these athletes certainly left their mark on the athletics scene, both locally and at National level.

In the late 'sixties' the 'stars' included Micky Flynn, horizontal iump exponent, Ted Murphy, hurdler, John FitzGibbon, top high jumper, Russel O'Brien, half miler, and Liam Long, long distance expert, and, of course, the great Brendan O'Regan - still among the top ranked Irish sprinters.

December the 1st, 1969 was yet another landmark in the club's history, when the first women's team took on a Leevale selection, at the 'Dyke. Unfortunately for this squad, their debut in the Inter-Varsity cross-country Championships, the following February, was something of a non-event: the host College, Maynooth, declined, at the last moment, to have women running through the grounds of that establishment, so the women's event was transferred to Belfield. The UCC women missed the race, which saw UCD win, by a margin of one point, from Galway. A month later, in an inter-university tussle, the UCC women annihilated this very Galway team!

Bv 1971 UCC confined their season to the winter and spring, hitherto, UCC athletes were present at the many sports through the summer. The 1971/72 season saw a suggestion from the club that the County Board secure computerised adding machines, to assist the hardworking officials in their efforts to total the massive scores that the club was registering - the novice county Championships saw a total of no less than 583 points for UCC - believed to be an all time record!

But with the presence of such as Finny Long, Billy White, J J O'Flvnn and Tony O'Leary, the UCC presence at competitions changed remarkably. There was a brace of third place finishes for the men's and women's teams, at the Inter-Varsity's which Finny won in Galway. At the track & field 'Varsities', there was a similar improvement, through the services of such as Finbarr Jeffords, Jerry Beckett, Brendan Crowley, Eddie Sheehan, Robert O'Abang, and Oliver Murphv. In 1974, the women, with the absence of Maura Mellerick, were a good second in the 'Varsity' cross country, and this augured well for the immediate future.

The 1974/75 season saw UCC athletics at its highest for many a year: through the efforts of Catherine Hourihane. Joan Fleming, Maura and Dervla Mellerick, Elaine Kelly, Mary Lehane and Mary Doyle, there were County and Southern Region senior cross-country Championship firsts, there was a bronze in the National inter-clubs, and a gold in the National intermediates, and, of course, an emphatic double at the 'Varsity' cross country, and track & field championships. Finny Long too was in immense form - the highlight being a steeplechase and 5,000 metre double at the 'Varsity' championships, ably supporting the squad that were the runners-up in the O’Sullivan Cup.

The summer season saw the first running of the multi-events championships, and these proved a great success, with club President eventually presenting the Colman O'Keeffe perpetual trophv to a surprise winner, Mick Doyle.

With the added services of Margaret Crosse and Joan Hough, the women's team in the 'seventies' - it can be argued - was the strongest in the country; there were five 'Varsitv' cross-country Championships in a row, to add to three 'Varsitv' track & field ChampionshipS. International honours were bestowed on the Mellerick sisters, Elaine Kelly, Joan Fleming, Margaret Crosse and Mary Doyle. Besides 'Varsity' triumphs there were many County, Provincial and National medals secured.
Needless to say, the women were not the sole flag bearers; among the men perhaps Maurice Power's 'Varsity' quarter victory, in 1978, was among the better highlights, although the exploits of Finny Long and Gerry Murphy, in the longer distances, live in the memory. As does the quarter in 2 minutes 36 seconds, set by Colman O'Keeffe, in one particular 'Varsity' final - Colman had pulled a hamstring in the qualifying semi, but still went around in the final - on crutches!

For the very acquainted, it was also sad to see the dissolution of the 'splinter' group, in 1976 - the 'Varsitv' cross-country, in Maynooth, being the last 'splinter' 'Varsities' - although one wonders what the College authorities thought of all those postcards from Maynooth, advising of the famous dissolution of the totally unknown!

The late 'seventies saw the club rise to greater prominence, as the laying of the new track, and indeed the many field facilities now attracted many a student to try out the various new facilities. The new Mardvke track was opened with the Club providing the opposition, in a team competition. The return of so many former club greats, including the singular legend, Doctor Pat O'Callaghan, was as exciting as it was awesome. It remains difficult to express the enthusiasm that pervaded through the club in those heady vears.

Events such as the hammer, the high and low hurdles, steeplechase, triple and high jumps all received an impetus, as many an athlete now tried their 'hand' at these events. The facilities and eauipment were there, it only needed the 'bodies' to come to gripS with these rarely attempted events. The annual decathlon too now attracted more attention, as 'outside' athletes were keen to be involved in the many activities that the new facility now offered.

The 'eighties' opened on a high note, with the men all but winning the O'Sullivan Cup, at the 'Varsitv' track & field championships; Maurice Delaney, Jim, Tom and Owen Crotty, Gerry Murphy, Willie Horgan, Damien McLoughlin, Seamus Ryan, Colm Murphy, and Billy Oakes strived for points, but the absence of the two hammer throwers in that event ensured that UCC failed, by a mere point, to win that coveted trohy.

In the early 'eighties' Billv Murphy was appointed coach to the athletic club. In previous vears, such household names as Donie Walsh, Fergus O'Donovan, and Father Liam Kelleher had all ably given of their time, to assist many of the College students in their athletic endeavours. Besides Billy, Ray Shanahan also began coaching the students at this time.

Throughout the mid to late 'eighties', the club had many a success, through the efforts of such as Donncha O’Mahony. By the 'nineties', the club had once again been built into a force, a force not only on the local county and regional scene, but also on the national senior and Inter-Varsity arena. The men enjoyed a double in the Inter-Varsity road relay Championships, and there were other successes, in particular over cross-country, but also individual track and field performances of note.

Two individuals, in particular, must be singled out for their contribution to athletics at UCC. Barbara Johnson secured many a point at Inter-Varsity Championship level, and also ran the occasional cross-country, when called upon to do so. In 1988, she qualified for the Olympic Games, in Seoul, and became the third UCC athlete to compete at Olympic level. In 1908 Paddv Roche, of Bandon, competed, in the sprints, in London, and, of course, Doctor Pat O’Callaghan was also an Olympian.

Billy Oakes was the leading triple jumper in Ireland through the 'eighties', and was ceratinly among the better long jumpers. He also had a quick turn of speed, and won many an inter-Varsity medal, in the 100 metres, and as part of a UCC sprint relay team. Even if the men's squad failed to attain the three-in-a-row of 'Varsity' road relays, the women duly obliged through, literally, running away with their Championships. Under the leadership of Brid Ni Chonaill, the women's section of the club went from strength to strength throughout the past season. The Inter-Varsitv cross-country Championship was added to an already growing list of troDhies.

In between, there was the Indoor Inter-Varsity triumph in Nenagh, back in February, when there was never any doubt from the moment Ailish O'Brien won the shot - the very first event - that the UCC women would not wrest the Indoor trophy from Limerick University.

There were also County, Regional and National cross-country medals, as Brid, aided by Rhona Murphy, Angela Shine and Louise Cavanagh, kept the students very much to the fore in Irish athletics. The great days of the 'seventies', it appeared, had once again returned to the hallowed sanctums of UCC and, in particular, the Mardyke.

The annual Inter-Varsity track & field ChampionshipS were held at the RTC complex, in late April, and here was the opportunity for the 'grand slam'. An Inter-Varsity on 'home soil' is always worth a few bonus points, if onlv for the fact that a larger team can usually be assembled, as restrictions on time - not travelling and study - are immediately lessened.
Again Ailish O'Brien had the distinction of taking the women's team straight into the lead on the points table, through winning the shot. Fidelma Kirwan added another gold in the 400 hurdles, and with Aisling Power adding further points, through yet another medal winning performance, the women's squad were more than well on their way to the fourth Inter-Varsity title open to them.



Willie O'Mahony
Athletics in Youghal dates back to the turn of the century. The town has produced many fine athletes, and organised many successful sports events, over the past century, in this East Cork venue.

Back in the nineteen twenties, Gerard Coughlan won an All-Army 800 metre title. In the following decade, Tony Cashell took on the best in the country, and at International level, over the quarter mile, while Tom Smyth was among the best in the country, in the high jump, winning many a medal at county, regional, and at national level. In the nineteen fifties, a very successful sports were held in Copperalley, catering for athletes and cyclists, with the cream of Munster taking part. This venue lies on a hill to the east of the town, and was among the best surfaces in the county to compete on.

Three decades ago, the Youghal Athletic and Cycling Club was formed. Founder members include the Maher family, Paddy Daly, Jerry Russell, Kevin McCarthy and Pierce Hennessy. The club boasted of many track and cross-country stars, at all levels; Paddy Coleman was an Irish Mile Champion, and was also a cross-country champion. Stephen Hennessy was an Irish Youth and All- Army champion.

On the cycling aspect, there was Martin Maher, Gerry Geary and Tenis McCarthy, who all were National medalists. The mid sixties saw great cross-country teams emerge, winning county junior, novice, intermediate titles. Several members were selected for Cork teams, bringing National honours to the seaside club. Names that come to mind include Paddy Coleman, Stephen Hennessy, Mick Hanly, Mick Buckley, the Walsh Brothers - George and Freddie, and Jerry Russell.

The 'seventies' saw juvenile athletics excel, with top honours coming to the club, for track and field and cross-country. Among these juveniles were Mary O'Neill, Alan Downey, Alan McCarthy, the Cooper twins, Martin and James Drake, Honorra Connolly, Colm Stack, David Savage and Mary Demsey/Sweeney. Mary won international honours on Irish school teams, and is still running in the St. Finbarr’s colours, with tremendous success. She is the current County cross-country champion, and features regularily on the current athletics circuit.

The club organised many events, including the August Monday Sprints, and many a sports meet in Copperall. The round-the-houses road races, held at midnight on New Year's Eve, always caught the imagination and were well supported.

To have a successful club, you need dedicated officers and coaches, and here the club were fortunate in having the services of such as Mel Power, James Drake, John Dempsey, Billy Drake, Pup O’Brien, Mary Goggin, Maura Dempsey, Tess O'Neill, Denis O'Sullivan, Brenda Casey, Mrs O'Leary, Mrs Kiely.

With so much athletic tradition in the town, it was sad to see the club disband, but there is a great ray of hope with the forming of a new club this very year .......long may this healthy and character building sport continue in Youghal and surrounding areas.


Looking Back - 25 Years of BLE in Cork - Chapter 4 - The Present and The Future

LOOKING BACK - 25 Years of BLE in Cork




looking back 25 years of ble in cork book cover

Chapter 4 - The Present and The Future




Chapter 4 - The Present and The Future (PDF File)


John Hegarty of Carrignavar celebrated the new decade with yet another term of office as Vice-Chairman of the County Board. This was his fifteenth year in that very position, and still, in 1993, Vice-Chairman he remains very much the elder statesman of athletics in the County. Although somewhat camera shy, his counsel and advice reflect the many years of administrative experience at this level.

Sonia O'Sullivan scored the most notable victory of her still blossoming career, when she won the American Collegiate 3,000 netre title at the NCAA track & field Championships. These were held in Durham, North Carolina in early June. Her time of 8:56.74 was a personal best, and was then the third fastest time over that distance by an Irish woman.

On her return 'home', she duly ran away with the National 1,500 netre title (4:09.44). At these Tullamore Championships, Terrie Horgan, now in the DCH colours, won the long for the third time in a row with a jump of 6.31 metres. The steeplechase provided much excitement and there was the spectacle yet again of three Cork athletes battling it out. On this occasion Kieran Stack, of North Cork, had the better of Liam O'Brien, East Cork, and John Murray, Leevale.

Terrie Horgan and Sonia O'Sullivan both enjoyed victories at the West Athletic International, in the long jump and 3,000 metres respectively. Marcus O'Sullivan was joined by Sonia, for the 'Europeans' in Split, Yugoslavia. Running in the 5,000 metres, Marcus was 5th in his heat, clocking 13:43.74. Sonia ran well in her debut Championships, returning 8:52.65 for the 3,000.


Donncha O'Mahony of East Cork was the new County cross-country senior Champion, and was joined on the winner's rostrum by Susan Jenkins, of Leevale, who took the women's title. For Susan there was even further glory that winter, as Cork won the National inter-county Championship. Joining Susan on that scoring quartet were Valerie Vaughan, Blarney/Inniscarra, Joan Hough, 5t Finbarr's, and Anita Philpott, North Cork

In the indoor circuit there was much excitement from the Cork viewpoint. The Nenagh Indoor Complex was officially opened, with a 'meet' at which there were victories for Sonia O'Sullivan, Valerie Vaughan, Terrie Horgan and Darren Haddock. At the National Indoors Terrie Horgan and Billy Oakes dominated the horizontal jumps. At the World Championships in Seville, there was some disappointment that Marcus did not retain his World 1,500 metres title. Such were the expectations that few doubted his ability to win yet again. He was fourth in 3:44.79 - just out of the medals, and again another superlative performance. In America, Sonia was running very well too. She captured the Collegiate cross-country title, and added to her Collegiate collection, at indoor level, as well. In late January Sonia returned a time of 15:17,28 for the 5,000 metres at the Boston Isllege Terrier Classic - a new World Record. The previous mark stood to Lynn Jennings at 15:22.65.

At the World 'vets' Indoor Championships, two Cork athletes did very well. Hugh McSweeney, of Eagle, took two bronzes - in the 60 metre sprint, and in the long jump. His clubmate, Mick Kiely, struck gold in the 800 metres, and the 1,500 metres, and added a silver in the 400 metres, to round off a very profitable weekend in Budapest.

A team from the ’North Mon’ travelled across the Atlantic, to take part in the famous 'Penn Relays’ in April. The squad of John Murray, Mark Smyth, Ken Nason and Mark Carroll went on to the bronze medal position, much to the delight of their coach and mentor, Brother John Dooley. Trevor Foolkes also made the journey, and although a reserve and not on the team on the day, he nonetheless ran in a 3,000 metre race, clocking 8:58.

At the World ’vets' Championships, in July, John Buckley struck gold - four times. Competing in the over 45 category he won the 5,000, in 15:04, and the 10,000, in 31:00. There was double gold in the cross-country event - individual and team. Later that year, he added further medals through participation in the World 'vets’ road races, held in Venice. On the World stage, one Peter Maher, formerly of North Cork, was 13th in the marathon at the World Championships in Tokyo. The Seoul Olympian returned a time of 2:20:31.

In November Doctor Pat O’Callaghan died, and, with him, passed one of the few remaining links with that golden era of Irish athletics. An outspoken figure in later life, he would be sorely missed by those who sought advice and encouragement on the state of athletics in modern Ireland.



Sean Dollman, Leevale, and Sonia O’Sullivan were among the Cork athletes at the World cross-country Championships, in Boston. Sean was 64th, and was a scorer on the men’s team. For Sonia, there was a 7th place finish, behind Cathriona McKiernan’s great silver. The women's team were just behind the Ethiopians, who filled the bronze position.

The 1992 County Convention was held in April, to facilitate the 'new' BLE year. Ted Murray retired from the ’Chair', and was replaced by Paddy Hickey, of Blarney. There was a new secretary too, as Catherine Murphy, of Eagle, replaced Eileen Vaughan, Blarney/Inniscarra. The subject of track & field athletics in the County was of particular concern to the delegates present. A track & field sub-committee was formed with John Hayes, Togher, Colm Murphy, Eagle, Tom Stanton, St Finbarr's, and John Riordan, Blarney/Inniscarra.

Recommendations followed, and the County Board acted on all: a County 'B' Championships was instituted, the County Seniors again had a full programme, more events were added to the County 'vets' Championships, and the structure of coaching in the County was thoroughly examined. For the first time in several years, two National Event coaches were based in Cork. Ray Shanahan has charge of the middle distance, and Colm Murphy, who previously worked with the discus throwers, the triple jump.

Among the other innovations at County Board level is the publication of the NEWSLETTER. This is sent on a monthly basis, during the winter and spring, to all Cork athletes 'abroad' - whether Dublin or Boston, London or Melbourne. Athletics news and gossip is covered, with special emphasis on Cork.

Officers of the Board met with their counterparts of the County BHAA, to ascertain the feasibility of co-operation in arranging a programme of fixtures, among other matters. The outcome was a more streamlined calendar, with no clashes of fixtures. A six week moratorium for track & field athletics was readily agreed, and, in May/June this year, no road races were held in the County - the first time in almost a decade.

At the 1992 National Championships, in Belfield, there were Cork doubles in both the 800 and the 1,500 metres. Marcus and Sonia won the two 800 metres, and Garret Barry, of North Cork, and Valerie Vaughan took the 1,500 metre titles. Liam O’Brien retained his steeplechase title, and, in the javelin, Paddy Moore created history through taking the bronze. The evergreen Leevale man had won a Championship medal in the 'sixties', 'seventies, 'eighties', and now the 'nineties'!

Three Cork athletes were in the Irish team at the Barcelona Olympics. Marcus narrowly missed out on a final, placing in the 1,500 metres: Sonia ran a brilliant 3,000 metres, and was just out of the medals, and Sean Dollman ran in the 10,000 metres.

Throughout the Summer Sonia O'Sullivan was proving herself to be among the very top women runners in the World. Her tally of victories was quite something else, as was the new list of National records as she continually ran personal best times on the tracks of Europe. At the end of the year, Sonia held the Irish record in the 1,500 metres (4:01.23), the mile (4:24.23), the 3,000 metres (8:37.92) and finally the 5,000 metres (14:59.11). There was also a 2:03.39 800 metres which was just outside Caroline O'Shea's National figures.



This past winter Marcus was back to his winning ways in the World Indoors. He faithfully delivered his third World Indoor title in Toronto, Canada. One could only marvel at one who surely ranks among the top middle distance men of the past decade. Three World Titles, and quite a few 'finals' at World Championships, and Olympic Games, singles Marcus out as among the all-time greats in athletics.

marcus osullivan

At 31, Marcus' mastery of the art of indoor running had certainly not diminished. His determination to win was very evident in this particular gold medal winning performance.

He left a very strong field in his wake as he gritted to that particular win and a very rare hat-trick of major Championship successes.

The promotion of track & field athletics remains a concern of the County Board. Besides the efforts made to rejuvenate this all important area of the sport, the County Decathlon was again held this year - after a break of several years. A County veterans' multi-events was also held, proving very successful. The County Championships was the best for many a year, with strong and full fields in practically all the events. Through these promotions, this particular branch of the sport can only grow, and will once again thrive.

The support of the 'local' media continues to improve, and the CORK EXAMINER gives what is regarded by many as the best athletics coverage by any newspaper in the country. In June 1992, a two page spread was devoted to 'local' athletics in the EVENING ECHO.

The EVENING ECHO Ladies' mini-marathon continues to attract much attention. The 1992 race attracted an entry in excess of two thousand two hundred women runners. The event provides a good run for the top athletes in the country, yet for many in the race, there is the simple aim to complete the course. In addition the event provides many with an opportunity to raise money for charity. The event is as much a social occasion, as it is a competitive run for the top athlete.

Athletics continues to be a quite popular sporting activity in the county. The exploits on the international scene of Marcus O'Sullivan, Anita Philpott, Valerie Vaughan, Mark Carroll, Sonia O'Sullivan, Liam O'Brien, Garret Barry, Valerie Vaughan, and Brid Dennehy, to name but a few, ensures that athletics remains very much in the limelight. The junior and juvenile athletes in the County are of a high quality, and, in this regard, the coaches, mentors and administrators, of the many clubs, can justifiably look to the future with confidence. There are many who can expect to reach international standard in the future. Within the county at present there remains much talent - talent that is spread throughout the whole range of track & field athletics. The junior and juvenile elements in the County have never been at a stronger level, and the County BLOE Board are ensuring that progress in this area will continue unabated.

The future looks very bright, provided the effort is made to ensure that the senior athlete is looked after - both the International and the local 'star'. Both have their place in the sport, and great care must be taken to ensure that the athlete who remains in Cork is catered for in his training, and through adequate competition. Athletics has a very broad base: the County enjoys tremendous success in cross-country and road racing. National and International Championships have been secured on a regular basis in these. Yet the area of track & field has to be further examined, to ensure that Cork will once again rise to the pre-eminence it enjoyed a decade ago.

The first twenty five years have provided many an enjoyable spectacle and thrill: no doubt the next quarter century will be equally as successful for all concerned in the sport of athletics in the County

Looking Back - 25 Years of BLE in Cork - Chapter 2 - The Seventies - Growth and Development

LOOKING BACK - 25 Years of BLE in Cork




looking back 25 years of ble in cork book cover

Chapter 2 - The Seventies - Growth & Development



At County Board level there were several changes of personnel in 1972, which reflected the passing of one era and the arrival of another. John O’Connell of St Finbarr's retired as Chairman of the Board, thereby ending a twenty seven year link with the sport. His tenure of office in the ’chair' begun with the formation of BLE, and he had as a consequence steered the County Board through its initial baptism. Martin Lynch was his successor, and he would continue in office for maximum tenure of three years. Yet there were a number of problems to be resolved concerning the Chairmanship at this time.

At the County Board Convention in late 1972, Martin failed to secure re-election, and on a 32/29 count, Carrignavar man Neilus Duggan was elected. However there were irregularities in the voting, and after the intervention of Fr Kevin Ryle, National President, and Brendan Foreman, National Secretary, it was decided to re-convene the Convention. On this occasion Martin was re-elected. Jerry O'Leary retired as treasurer, a post he had held since 1967 and Billy Nestor relinquished the secretarial position in favour of Donie Duggan, Carrignavar.


There were fourteen clubs affiliated to the Board in 1973:
Bandon, Bantry, Ballymore/Cobh, Beara, Dunmanaway, Grange, Leevale, Northern, Olympic, St Finbarr's, Skibbereen, UCC and Youghal. Of these, eight still remain with Youghal AC now replaced by Celtic AC in the east Cork town.

The 1972/73 season opened on a high note, with Pat O'Riordan 1973 back in great form, winning the Oman Cup, in a new course record of 9:14. Donie Walsh was another in good form, taking the National cross-country title, and leading Cork to the inter-county Championship. The Cork women's team were narrowly beaten in their contest. Pat, Donie and Richie Crowley were selected for the Irish team to run in the International cross-country Championships that year, and for Donie it was the start of a sequence that saw him at every one of these Championships until 1981 - quite some record.

On the American indoor circuit, John Hartnett took the mile at the Martin Luther King Games, in a world class 3:58.3. Thus he broke Ron Delany's mark set in 1958. Somewhat later, John raced to a National record over three miles - on the track - clocking 13:06.4. This time placed him in the top three in the World at this distance, and deleted Mike Keogh's name from the record books. Another Corkman to set National figures was Billy Bolster of Mallow, who clocked 2:24.8 for 1,000 metres, in May.

There were some notable performances in April and May in Cork: the NCPE, later Thomond College and now Limerick University, competed for the first time at the 'Dyke with UCC the hosts. At the UCC/Munster/Darmstadt University challenge, Len Braham of the 'Barrs broke the National discus record, with a throw of 53.20 metres. The throw was initially measured at 52.86 metres beyond the national record) but on re-measuring with a steel tape the officials recorded the new mark. The Togher sports were well supported, with well over a thousand making their way through the turnstiles.

Margaret Murphy too was back to top form, and had a jump in excess of six metres in Santry. However there was no wind gauge in use and one prominent Cork Official made his presence felt as the CORK EXAMINER reported, having 'some verbal cross-fire with a BLE Official' over the matter. At the same meeting Finny Long of the 'Barrs recorded the fourth fastest steeplechase time by an Irishman, 8:57.8.

The National Championships were again held in Cork, this time the venue being the 'Dyke. Len Braham of the 'Barrs had a treble - hammer, discus and 56 for distance. The Walley brothers shared the gold and silver sprint medals between them, with Leevale athletes filling the first four places in the 200 metres. The Tarrant Trophy, for the best all-rounder, was won by Len to cap a great weekend for the near veteran athlete.

Len was in top condition throughout the Summer, and his tussles with Tadgh Twomey, with the 'fifty-sixes', was a great attraction at sports meetings. They were not the only two who excelled with the 56 though - Liam Nolan of Bandon lobbed the weight beyond the eight metre mark in Ballyhooly - in a downpour and Jim McNamara was also very much: to the fore at sports meetings. The '56' highlights came in August: at Youghal on the 5th, Tadgh had a series which, with all throws over eight and a half metres, culminated with 8.96 metres. Len was second on 8.76 metres with Liam third with 8.25 metres. At Donoughmore on the 12th Ted had the better with distance - 8.62/8.57 but Len won the height - 4.65/4.60. The CORK EXAMINER summed it all up, headlining the report - 'power sharing at Donoughmore'.

In September, Leevale became the first club in Ireland to compete in an International competition at this level. Vince Regan, Dick Hodgins and Donie Walsh travelled to Holland, to run in the International marathon. Donie dropped out towards the end, having lead the great Ron Hill by 45 seconds, at the 19 miles marker. Dick came in 21st in 2:31. Also on the International scene, Joan Fleming of St Finbarr's reached the semi-final of the 800 metres, at the European Juniors.

Over cross-country there was success for the Cork team in the women's National Intermediate, with Joan Fleming being individual runner-up, but leading fellow County athletes to the next three places! Dervla Mellerick, third individual overall, led Grange to the premier position.


Read more ...

Sundry Articles & Magazine Archives

Historical Copies of Various Athletics Articles and Magazine


BLE Contact Volume 1 Number 2 - March 1995

Irish Runner Magazine Archives

Historical Copies of Irish Runner Magazine

Archive copies of Irish Runner Magazine

These Magazines and articles are reproduced with the permission of Frank Greally & Irish Runner

Copyright remains with Frank Greally & Irish Runner



Irish Runner Volume 1 Number 3 - Marathon Special


Irish Runner Magazine - August 1983, Vol 3, No 4, P6 - 8 - Deirdre Nagle - Back on Top


Irish Runner Magazine - August 1983, Vol 3, No 5, P 32-33 Carey May - The Long Road to Success


Irish Runner Magazine - August 1983, Vol 3, No 5, P56 - Cork City Sports

Irish Runner Magazine - August 1983, Vol 3, No 5, P56 - N.A.C.A.I. National T&F Championships

Irish Runner Magazine - September-October 1983, Vol 3, No 6, P26-28 - BLE National T&F Championships




Irish Runner April 1984, April 1984, April 1984, P16 - St. Finbarr's Proud History

Irish Runner April 1984, P18-19 - Leevale Seek The Limelight


Irish Runner April 1984 Vol 4 No 3 P38-39 - The Matt Maloney Legend




Irish Runner April 1985 - May/June Vol 5 No 4 P23 - John Lenihan - At Home in His Hills


Irish Runner Report - Cork City Sports July 1985



Irish Runner Volume 6 Number 4 - May/June 1986 - National Marathon 1986


Irish Runner Volume 6 Number 5 - July 1986 - Southern Scene - Report by Michael Joyce


Irish Runner Magazine, July 1986 - Vol 6, No 5, P8-11 - Marcus O'Sullivan - Cork's Crown Prince


Irish Runner Magazine, March 1987 - Vol 7, No 2, P8-10 - Millrose Magic

Irish Runner Report -  Cork City Sports July 1987


BLOE/Bank of Ireland Young Athlete Awards 1990 - Irish Runner Annual 1990


Irish Runner / SEIKO Awards 1989 - Irish Runner Annual 1990



Stateside Success - Athletes on Scholarship - Irish Runner Annual 1992, P24-25


Veteran Glory - World Veterans Championships 1991 - Turku Finland - Irish Runner Annual 1992, P82-83



Women of Substance - Irish Runner Feb/Mar 1992, Vol 12 No 1, P18-19


National Inter-County Cross-Country Championships 1991 - Irish Runner Feb/March 1992, Vol 12, No 1, P30-31


Irish Runner Magazine, July 1992 - Vol 12, No 4, P46 - NIKE CORK CITY SPORTS ’92 - Leeside Revival

Mark Carroll - Mark of Distinction - Irish Runner, Feb/Mar 1992, Vol 12, No 1, P 24


Bro. John Dooley, Jurys Hotel Group Sports Star Award March 1992 - Irish Runner, July 1992, Vol 12, No 4, P8


Irish Runner Volume 15 Number 4 - September 1995


Irish Runner September 1995 - Denis McCarthy - Running the Country


Irish Runner June/July 1996 - BLE National Marathon



Irish Runner October 2000 - Walkers Set the Pace


Spring in his step - Mark Carroll Interview - Irish Runner Annual 2003 - Vol 22 - No 6

Independent Spirit - Tom O'Riordan - Irish Runner Annual 2003 - Vol 22 - No 6



Irish Runner Oct/Nov 2003, Vol 23, No 5 P18-19 - Gillian O'Sullivan - Fame-at-Her-Feet


Archived Articles

Irish Runner

Marathon Magazine

Looking Back - 25 Years of BLE in Cork


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Looking Back - 25 Years of BLE in Cork - Chapter 7 - Aspects of The Sport

LOOKING BACK - 25 Years of BLE in Cork




looking back 25 years of ble in cork book cover

Chapter 7 - Aspects of The Sport




This Chapter deals with different aspects of the sport which are not covered elsewhere in this publication. These vary from road running, as epitomised in the County by the Ballycotton Series and the '10' miler, to the International track & field meet that is now the City Sports. A review of Mountain Running is included, and there will be those who will well remember the 'Multi-Eventers' that the UCC Athletic Club hosted for many a year, and at which a future Olympic decathlete first competed in one.


Download Chapter 7 - Aspects of The Sport - Introduction in PDF Format


The full list, in order, is as follows -


looking back 25 years of ble in cork chapter 7 56 cork city sports 1993

'56' at the City Sports; the 1993 Sports had a 56 pound for distance event on the programme - the first time the '56' was included in an International for seventy years. Pictured above, from left, are Paddy Linehan (judge), Sergei Liakhov (2nd), -Yuri Gavrilov (1st), Gerry O'Connell (3rd) & Len Braham (4th)


by John Walshe

looking back 25 years of ble in cork chapter 7 john walshe face of ballycotton

John Walshe, for many the ’face’ of the Ballycotton series


Download Ballycotton Road Races section in PDF Format

In the formative years of BLE, road running, as we know it today, was practically non-existent in the Cork area. In the early to mid 'seventies', a few races took place, such as the Youghal round-the-houses New Year's Eve event, plus a handful of summer races held in conjunction with festivals, at such places as Skibbereen and Ballymore.

The main fixtures for road runners were held in the early spring, when Midleton AC staged their ambitious programme of events for all age groups. St. Finbarrs also attracted the various age groups to their popular relays around The Lough. The only real distance race, however, was the 15 mile run from Cork to Cobh. This promotion often served as the National Championship at the distance, and, as a consequence, attracted some of the country's finest long distance exponents.

In August of 1977, a five mile race was held in Ballycotton, with 34 runners taking part. A ten mile event was planned for the following March, as, at that time, there was no annual race at this distance in the country. Early March was deemed a suitable date, coming at the end of the cross-country season, and before the track commenced. And so, on March 12th 1978, the Ballycotton '10' was born, when 31 runners, all Cork based, finished the ten mile distance, each receiving a certificate showing their time & position on the day. A number of trophies and plaques were presented as prizes. The entry fee was 30p per runner, and the total expenditure on the race amounted to £70.10p


looking back 25 years of ble in cork chapter 7 dan kennedy michael joyce ballycotton 1980

Ballycotton, 1980 - Dan Kennedy, left, and Mick Joyce, relieved to be at the finish!

By 1980, the numbers had grown to over 150, which was considered a huge amount for a road race at the time. In October of that year, the first Dublin City Marathon took place - ushering in the 'running boom' in this country. Over the next few years almost every town and village had a race or 'mini-marathon' of some description. The Ballycotton race benefited from this interest and indeed, near 'mania' in road running and jogging, and, by 1984, the Ballycotton '10' had a total of 848 finishers. The five mile events, which started with just the one race, had at this stage developed into a four race Summer Series, with promotions in Balyandreen, Shanagarry, Churchtown South, as well as Ballycotton itself, with each race attracting in excess of 200 competitors.

looking back 25 years of ble in cork chapter 7 leaders ballycotton 10 1990

Leaders in the 1990 Ballycotton '10'; from left, Sean Harte, John Scanlon, John Griffin and James McGee

As with all 'booms', a recession had to set in, and, towards the end of the decade, a lot of the races that had appeared on the scene fizzled out, due to lack of interest, or sponsorship, or both. Numbers in the Ballycotton '10' levelled off at around the 700 mark, still quite a sizable amount. However, in the last couple of years, figures in all the Ballycotton events have shown a dramatic increase. The Summer Series of 1992 had record fields in all four races, with an average of 250 in each. This year (1993) the Ballycotton '10' exceed all expectations, with the total of entries (1257) and finishers (1088) up 25% on the previous best. This significant increase was also reflected in the high standard, with 200 runners finishing under the one hour barrier. The race is now almost as well known in the UK as in Ireland, with up to 100 making the trip each year. It is also a huge community involvement, and a major boost to the local economy, at what is a quite time of year.

The early races in the Ballycotton area were organised with the help of Midleton AC, along with the Cork County Board, and also, of course, the local juvenile club, which was in existence for a few years. In 1981, Ballycotton Running Promotions was formed, which is probably the only club of its kind in the country, dealing solely with the organisation of races. Their efficiency and expertise have played a significant role in the development of road racing, not alone in their own area, but in the country as a whole, where the Ballycotton races are now taken as the yardstick for many other promotions.



by James Kelleher

cork city sports july 2020

The Cork City Sports replaced the old and renowned Cork Drapers Sports which had lapsed for financial reasons. The City Sports gradually forged ahead to become the leading sports meeting in the country. The inauguration of the meeting was largely due to the work of John 0. Jagoe. John was a former Inter-Varsity champion and was of course a well known city businessman who became the first president of the organizing committee.

The Army was represented on the Committee from the start and its contribution - in particular that of the Southern Command, has been very important over the years. UCC too has a representation on the Committee and the College has played a big part in the promotion of the sports through the years. An American involvement in the sports was established in 1951 when the American vice-consul in Cork, Nick Lakas, presented a solid silver cup - the American Trophy - which has been presented annually to the outstanding athlete of the meeting.

The very first Cork City Sports was held on July 26th, 1949. The UCC sports complex at the Mardyke was the venue - as it still is today. The admission at these first sports was 1/6 for adults and 1/- for children - 7.5p and 5p for those of the present generation. Among the highlights was the presence of an Army Band and the organizing Committee added to the fun with an aerial fireworks display. The prizes were presented by Doctor Tom O'Higgins. There was but the one championship event - national - and that was the 120 yards hurdles. This was won by Gerry Murray of UCC, afterwards, himself, a Chairman of the Committee.

Over the years the fixture has been graced by all great athletes and cyclists this country has produced as well, of course, by many outstanding athletes from abroad.

In 1960 women's events were included for the first time and in 1963 women's athletics in the south received a tremendous boost when the Irish Olympian, Maeve Kyle, competed.

A review over the past twenty five years would start with the 1969 sports - this was truly an outstanding meeting. A very strong American squad were present which included Olympic and International athletes Mel Pender, Charlie Greene, Neil Steinhauer, John Carter, Dalton Le Blanc and Ken Moore thrilled those that came to the Mardyke to witness world class athletes in action. There were shot putts in excess of sixty feet and high jumps of over six and a half.

There was a crowd in excess of ten thousand that Tuesday evening to witness these Champions and perhaps the top performance was that of Charlie Greene who clocked 9.6 for the 100 yards - equivalent to 10.4/10.5 for the 100 metres. Yet even for Charlie there was a mild surprise in the final. He had difficulty with the starting at the Sports and in the final he was left in the blocks. With the other sprinters heading for the tape he walked down the straight commenting that the starter was 'too fast for him!'

All the top 'home' athletes made the journey to Cork for this Tuesday evening spectacular; Fanahan McSweeney turned in many a fine performance and won twelve sprints - from the 100 yards to the quarter - in his City Sports career. Margaret Murphy too had many a fine win and won the American Trophy for the best athlete of the 'meet' in 1971.

In 1974 John Hartnett of Grange clocked a superb 3:56.3 for the mile. This surely would equate to a sub-3:50 mile on any artificial surface. Back in 1974 the present track was still only a dream and John's record was run on grass. Another to excell on that grass surface was Colm Cronin who triple jump in excess of fifty feet - the furthest ever on a non 'artificial surface'.

Four years after that superb mile run of John Hartnett the Sports moved from the Mardyke as a new track was then being laid down. The City Sports in 1978 were held in Pairc Ui Caoimh. Among the visitors was future Olympic Champion and World record holder - Steve Ovett.

Cycling events at the sports ceased with the short re-location to Piarc Ui Caoimh. In that particular sphere Frank O'Sullivan of Fermoy was truly the king of the two wheeled vehicle. Frank won the American Trophy on no less than four occasions - 1955, 1956, 1959 and 1960.

It was back to the Mardyke the following year and the new track was officially opened when the Cork City Sports were run off. UCC took on an Irish University combination and a BLE President's selection in a keenly contested competition. There was an open mile and again Steve Ovett among others thrilled the crowd with a great race.

The Sports on July 3rd, 1984 received immense media attention world wide when Yuri Sedykh of the former Soviet Union broke the world record in the hammer with his opening throw. The distance was a fabulous 86.34 metres. Sergei Litvinov, the world record holder coming into the City Sports that year, and Sedykh bettered the previous world mark on no less than seven occasions but Sedykh's first round throw was the best of the competition. So there was but the one world record, even if there were seven throws in the competition better than the previous mark!

The Sports were cancelled for the first time in 1988 and again the following year. Sponsorship was no longer as easily secured as hitherto due to the economic recession.

However the City Sports did re-emerge once again in 1991 and in 1992 the competition took the form of a triangular with Ireland taking on Russia and Southern England. This new triangular proved a great success and was repeated again in 1993. This year the athletics complex at the RTC in Bishopstown were reauired to have the six long throws and history was again created when a women's hammer was on an international programne for the first time. The presence of the 56 pound weight for distance caused much excitement at the Mardyke and as a strange twist the first two positions were filled were Russians - so much for tradition!

The City Sports have by now became quite an institution in Cork. The early July 'meet' remains the premier athletics event in the country.


East Cork Athletic Board

by Dan McCarthy

The inaugural meeting of the East Cork Athletic board was held at the Scout Hall, Midleton, on October 4th, 1967, where the following officers were elected: Chairman: Paddy Hartnett; Vice-Chairman: Noel Higgins; Treasurer: Jerry Russell; Secretary: Donal Duggan. It was decided to hold a cross-country league that winter, but most of the races were transferred to the road, because of the outbreak of foot and mouth! The Board's first sports meeting was held on the Cricket Ground in Midleton, and the Abernethy Trophy was won by Ballymore/Cobh, for the top overall club.

The track and field championships of 1969 was held in Youghal Greyhound Track, where Liam O'Brien, later to compete in the Olympics, won the boys under-14 880 yards. The early 'seventies' saw Fr Liam Kelleher in Midleton, where he was to coach many National medal winners. In 1971, Willie O'Mahony, Youghal AC, took the post of Treasurer, which he still holds. Other active members of the Board in the early 'seventies' were Willie Harte, John Hegarty, Michael Burke, Brendan Barry, Jim Leahy, Brendan Hurley, Sean Kennedy and Jack Dempsey.
In 1974, Midleton athletes Linda Barrett, Noreen Fleming, Mary Fleming, Gretta Hartnett, Joe Brice and Kathleen Glavin won 11 National medals between them.

The mid 'seventies' saw three new clubs, Watergrasshill, with Eamonn Ryan and Maureen O'Connell at the helm, Glounthaune, with Pat O'Shea as the driving force, and St Catherine's with Fr Finn, Dermot O'Leary and Michael Burke looking after their affairs, with the latter also holding the post of secretary with the East Cork Board.

After ten years as chairman, Paddy Hartnett handed over the seat to fellow Midleton man Phil Glavin. Joe Duggan has been involved with the Board for a number of years, in a public relations capacity.

In 1977, Mary Dempsey had the congratulations of the Board bestowed on her, for an International cross-country win, and 1978 saw Maureen O'Connell take over as secretary, a post she still holds, and fellow Watergrasshill person, Jack Higgins, became president, as Ballycotton AC became the latest club to affiliate. In 1980, Ballynoe man Dan McCarthy took over as chairman, and was responsible for putting all cups and shields back into operation, as well as organising the inaugural road race championship, held in Ballynoe, with Pat Whyte, Midleton, winning the event.

In 1981, Willie Harte became president, a post he still holds, and Fr O'Neill's affiliated, as did Carrignavar, under the guidance of Fr Liam O'Brien. In 1982, St Nicholas, Castlelyons, joined the Board, with Dick O'Brien the leading light, and the Carrigtwohill club was revived by Tim Mulcahy, Willie John Curran, and Willie Harte. St Coran's joined the Board in 1985 and were the youngest, until Glenbower AC joined the fold.
A number of other individuals who played a role in East Cork athletic activies during the 'eighties' were Noreen Murphy, Michael Finn, Tom Casey, Carmel Casey, Tom Regan, Tom Houlihan and Mossy Morrisson.

At international level, there were many athletic successes, especially with the likes of Mike Keogh, Midleton, Liam O'Brien, Midleton and Sonia O'Sullivan, Ballymore/Cobh, all of whom went on to compete at Olympic Games. Mike in 1972, Liam in 1984 and Sonia in 1992.
The divisions youngest club is Glenbower AC, formed by Fr Liam Kelleher, on his return to the region. The Board's finances have always been in balance, especially with the introduction of a special championship medal with the Fitzgerald crest on it, but the financial headache has been relieved greatly, with sponsorship received from Castlelyons Milk, who have been associated with the Board's championships since 1990.

looking back 7 east cork athletic board

Pictured from left are Tadgh Crowley, secretary Cori: County BHAA, Catherine Murphy, secretary Cork County BLE Board Dan McCarthy, chairman, East Cork Board and John Walshe for many the face of the Ballycotton Series and of course the guiding light.

Among the premier events organised under the jurisdiction of the East Cork Board is the very successful Ballycotton Roaed Running Summer Series, which attracts athletes from all over these islands, and indeed from further afield. The Ballycotton '10', in early March, has now an entry in excess of one thousand. Such is the popularity that athletes from all organizations take part, and the above picture, taken at the fourth race of the 1992 Series at Ballycotton village itself, illustrates this.



By Pat Walsh

The Ladies' Mini Marathon has been one of the great success stories of the 'eighties and 'nineties for the Cork County BLE Board. It has turned out to be a great fun event, a method of raising great sums of money for charity and a prestigious race for the top runners. It has grown year after year with last year's entry exceeding 2.200 women!

The whole idea began in 1982, when Reg Hayes, then chairman of Cork County Board, and Declan Hasset, of the EVENING ECHO, among others, held a number of meetings. As a result, the inaugural event began in the autumn of 1982. The event, held annually on the last Sunday in September, has grown to the extent that it is bv far the biggest athletics event in Munster.

The very first mini-marathon was won by the late Ursula Noctor, from DCH, and she won it again last year, 1992. Regrettably, Ursula passed to her eternal reward earlier this year, having bteen sick for several months. Other winners have included Anne Keenan-Buckly, Liz Bullen, Valerie O'Mahoney and Roisin Smith. In the last few years, local marathon expert, Brid Murphy has been third on three occasions. However it is fair to say that, in this event, the real winners are those who take part, and complete the 5 mile course.

One of the great features of the race has been the huge sums of money raised for many charities, and general fund raising. Some causes state that it is their single biggest source of funding each year. Many thanks therefore is due to those who, along with competing, go to great trouble in selling lines, and gathering generously for their particular cause. I would estimate that in excess of £150,000 was collected for various causes in the 1992 event.

The principal sponsor for the annual event is of course, the EVENING ECHO which has been involved in a huge way, right from the inaugural event, and hopefully this will continue for many years yet. Not only does the ECHO contribute in monetary terms, by way of sponsorship, but also all the coverage given in the paper for the event, the facilities made available to the Board, and the help on the day. Special mention must be made of Ann Mooney. who has been writing, interviewing training groups, promoting the event for weeks before, almost every year from the start of the event.

KEANE'S JEWELLERS have every year provided their timing for the event, as well as a printout of individual times for all the competitors. In the last few years, entries and results have been handled by the use of computer facilities sponsored by APPLE CENTRE HORIZON, who have been most helpful in every way. The NANO NAGLE COMMUNITY COLLEGE, in Mahon, under the guidance of teacher Dave Manning, have helped in the 'inputting' of all the entries on the computer system.
Naturally there is a tremendous amount of voluntary time and effort involved in organising a race of this magnitude; the fact that each participant will receive their position and running time means that if all details from the entries are not entered, then accurate results are impossible. Months and weeks of planning are involved, before this event each year.


looking back 25 years of ble in cork chapter 7 evening echo mini marathon

The 1992 EVENING ECHO Ladies' mini-marathon; the first four finishers pictured with the Lady Mayoress, Mary Martin; from left: Brid Murphy, Ursula Noctor (RIP), Liz Bullen and Mary Sheehan.

The organising committee consists of Paddy Hickey, Blarney/Inniscarra; Pamela Buckley, St Finbarrs AC; Joan Keating, Belgooly AC; Eileen Vaughan, Blarney/Inniscarra; Mary Meagher, Blarney/Inniscarra; John Smyth, Leevale; Noreen Murphy, Carrignavar and finally Pat Walsh, Skibbereen AC - the chairman of the committee.

Thanks must also be expressed on behalf of the County Board to all the volunteers from the various BLE clubs in the county, who help out on the day itself. The course is always fully manned through the entire length, and the many stewards ensure that all the runners are looked after, as they make their way through the City and suburbs. In addition there are also many 'helpers' at the finish, where upwards of eight finishing tunnels are in use. The 'Echo Mini-Marathon' has developed into one of the three largest races in the country. The amount of money collected for the various causes is tremendous. It has also proved to be a fun day for the two thousand odd women, who parade their talents around the streets of Cork!

The support of the EVENING ECHO has been instrumental in the success of this race and long may their support continue for this the biggest event in the yearly fixture list of Cork County BLE Board.




by Denis Hegarty

Organised mountain running started in Cork in 1990, under the guidance of Gerry McGrath from Dublin. Once established in the Southern Capital it quickly developed a foothold, and now is a well established athletics variation on the local sporting scene.

It would be great if mountain races organised themselves, however this is not the case! This aspect of the sport is all about runners organising races for each other - over courses and terrain quite different from what one normally expects in athletics. With the return of Gerry to Dublin in 1991 it was left to the Eagle AC to take over the organising of these

Anyone who participates in regular exercise is capable of mountain running, and many of these mountain races are aimed at people wishing to run a mountain race for the first time. However many events are also open to the more experienced mountain runners.

However mountain running can be somewhat difficult on the body, and great concentration is required on the slope upwards, but more especially on the slope downwards. Here there is a great tendency to charge down the slope which can be dangerous for the unwary. There is much skill involved in negotiating difficult terrain - whether rocky or boggy, steeply inclined, or a host of other natural barriers and difficulties, which makes this form of athletics all the more exciting and all the more different.

In Cork County, there are three races in all included on the annual programme, these are Corrin Hill, outside Fermoy, which is some three miles in distance, and has a 500 foot climb, Nagle mountain near Kilavullen, which is four miles in distance, and has a 1000 foot climb, and Musheramore, between Macroom and Millstreet, which is also four miles in distancem and is also a 1000 foot climb.

These three races were made part of a seven race Munster Championship in 1992. This was increased by one run to an eight race Championshipm in 1993, but with Musheramore being dropped from the series.

1993 also saw a special race being held in Millstreet - to coincide with the Eurovision Song Contestm and was a great successm with over 80 athletes taking part - the largest number of athletes at a Cork Mountain Race to date.

Several Cork runners have had great success at Munster and at National level. At National Championship level Brian Linehan struck gold in 1990. Pat Murphy of Eagle was a good second in 1992m and clubmate Eddie Noonan was third. Denis Hegarty - also of Eagle, won the Munster Championship the same year. So Cork is not without its share of successes in this very specialised branch of athletics.

Cork were also strongly represented in the province's success in the Inter-Provincial race on Carrantoohil in 1991, with no less than four of the top six man team being from Cork.





by Catherine Murphy

The first UCC decathlon, in 1975, saw a closely fought battle, won by British & Irish University boxing champion, and occasional middle distance runner, Mick Doyle. Mick won out through high point scoring in the 400 metres and 1500 metres. The eight man field were under the supervision of Fergus O'Donovan of St Finbarr's throughout.

The UCC decathlon was the brainchild of Colman O'Keeffe. It addition to promoting the event Colman presented a shield to the Club, to be awarded to the best UCC athlete. Colman himself was a capable quarter miler, clocking sub-fifty on several occasions. Although the event was sponsored by the UCC Athletic Club, it was nonetheless open, from the very first decathlon, to anyone who was keen to 'have a go' at multi-events.

As permission was granted by the Cork County Board, the UCC decathlon carried with it the title of county championship, and the best placed Cork athlete was therefore the designated county champion.

As was only right, specialist multi-event men won the title in the following three years, 1976 to 1978, inclusively - twice by Oliver Murphy, and, in between, by Tipperary man Peadar McGing. The 1976 decathlon was won by a mere 18 points - Oliver scored: 4,564 points, to Maurice Power's 4,546 points. In fourth place was Finny Long, international steeplechaser, who vaulted over three metres, and completed the 1500 in 4:15!

Hurdling specialist, Maurice Delany had the better of exchange in 1979, before Colm Murphy won the trophy five years in succession - mainly through high point scoring in the shot, discus and javelin. On one remarkable occasion - as can only happen in a decathlon - he narrowly avoided being lapped in the 1500 metres, but then Mark Earley's 4:17.1 was quite some running.

Along the way, John Sheehan, of Bandon, got his first taste multi-events, John later of course went on to become an international decathleten and was indeed a regular at the UCC event as indeed was Liam O'Brien, of Midleton, who was quite an all rounder, in the years before concentrating on the steeplechase, and middle distance running generally.

The UCC decathlon attracted competitors from all over Ireland, and others, to grace the event on a regular basis included; Frank Lonergan and Dave McMathuna of Raheny Shamrocks, LiamTierney of Nenagh, and Brendan Curtin of Crusaders, all national decathlon champions. In 1983, the contestants included future Olympic decathlete Carlos O'Connell, who placed fifth overall. John Hartnett, of Midleton, won that year with an impressive total that was helped in no small way by a 4.15 metre vault.


UCC Champions for the Colman O'Keeffe Shield

1975 Mick Doyle 4343pts
1976 Oliver Murphy 4564pts
1977 Peadar McGing 4647pts
1978 Oliver Murphy 4856pts
1979 Maurice Delany 5266pts
1980 Colm Murphy 5006pts
1981 Colm Murphy 5041pts
1982 Colm Murphy 4897pts
1983 Colm Murphy 4696pts
1984 Colm Murphy 4722pts


Team Manager

by Joe O'Flynn

At the County Board AGM, in 1981, Joe was elected Team Manager, in succession to John Walsh. During his term, Cork teams made a few token appearances in the now defunct Inter Region track and field competition, won numerous Southern Region titles, and, as a matter of fact, won every Southern Regional or National Cross¬country or road title open to the county, except the National mens cross-country title. Maybe - as he suggests himself - he should take a more active role in that competition!

In his first season - of 1981/82 - he was fortunate to inherit a solid team from his predecessor John Walsh. In the Championships, in Waterford, the hosts going for a sixth title in a row, provided the first two individuals with John Treacy and Gerry Deegan, but Cork packed well to win the title. Cork placings that day were Tony O'Leary 5th, John Hartnett 8th, Richie Crowley 9th, Pat Whyte 12th, Liam O'Brien 19th and Billy Horgan 22nd. In the mid 'eighties', Cork had the three in a row - 1983, 1984 and 1985, but have failed to win the title since, the consequence of scholarships perhaps. Individual titles were won by Tony O'Leary, in 1984, and Richard O'Flynn, in 1985.

Although not quite as successful as their male counterparts, the women have their own list of successes. They were runners up in the National Championships in 1981, 1983, 198A, 1985, 1986, 1988 and 1989. The title was won in 1987, when Dublin were disqualified, and again in Killenaule, in 1990. Cork placings on that day were Anita Philpott 2nd, Valerie Vaughan 3rd, Joan Hough 10th and Susan Jenkins 13th. Valerie O'Mahoney provided Cork with individual titles in 1985, and in 1986.

Our Intermediate Ladies won their inaugural championships in Kilmacow, in 1987, with Valerie Vaughan the individual winner in Waterford, in 1988. Our Intermediate men won the title in 1985, 1988 and 1991, with Bryan Meade taking the individual title in Waterford 1988, and Leonard O'Regan in Dungarvan 1991.

The high standard of Junior cross-country running in the county is reflected by the following results - Junior or under 18 ladies won the title in 1985, 1987, 1990, 1991 and 1992, with individual winners in Anita Philpott, in 1985, and Sonia O'Sullivan, in 1987. The Junior men won the title in 1981, but did not win again until 1989, and, since then, have made it four in row wins, and had individual winners in Leonard O'Regan, in 1982, Mark Carroll, in 1989, where we also had John Murray 2nd, and Declan O'Callaghan 3rd, John Murray, in 1990, and Martin McCarthy, in 1991. It is interesting to note that 1981 team - Kieran Stack 2nd, Colm O'Riordan 4th, Dave Dunlea 5th, Michael Kelleher 10th, Jerry Wallace 12th and Derry Beckett 18th.

Our veteran ladies team of Brid Murphy, Marion Lyons, Rose Crockett and Pat O'Callaghan won the title in 1992, and even though our veteran men have not won the title, they did finish runners up in 1992 and 1993.

One statistic which bears mentioning is that Cork teams have won the men's Southern Region Novice title from 1981 to 1989 inclusive, and have not won it since. Soccer Managers are sacked for less!


Other Chapter 7 Photos


looking back 25 years of ble in cork chapter 7 all time greats

Olympians and all-time 'greats' at the City Sports 1993; from left, Fanahan McSweeney, Joy Good Murphy, Dave Guiney, Fergus O'Donovan, Jimmy Riordan and Cashel Riordan



looking back 7 middle and long distance greats

Middle and long distance 'greats'; from left, Dick Hodgins, Marcus O'Sullivan and Donie Walsh



Looking Back - 25 Years of BLE in Cork - Chapter 6 - Olympians

LOOKING BACK - 25 Years of BLE in Cork




looking back 25 years of ble in cork book cover

Book Index

Chapter 6 - Olympians

Dave Guiney (London 1948)

John Hartnett (Munich, 1972)


Barbara Johnson (Seoul, 1988)

Mike Keogh (Munich, 1972)

Fanahan McSWEENEY (Munich, 1972)


Margaret MURPHY (Munich, 1972)

Liam O'Brien (Los Angeles, 1984)

Marcus O'SULLIVAN (Los Angeles. 1984, Seoul 1988 & Barcelona 1992)

Sonia O'SULLIVAN (Barcelona, 1992)

Donie WALSH (Munich, 1972)


Joe WEST (Helsinki, 1952)


Over the years Cork has been fortunate in having so much representation at Olympic level, and, in recent years, at the World Championships. At the Olympic Games, Cork born athletes have been very much to the fore over the years, and, in the early part of the century, the names of such as Horgan, Leahy, O'Callaghan, to name but a few, figured in the medal placings.

This tradition continues to the present, and Cork athletes will ensure that no major Championships would be quite the same without a 'Rebel' County representative. Over the past twenty five years, the following from Cork have enjoyed participation at this level - Margaret Murphy (1972), Donie Walsh (1972), John Hartnett (1972), Mike Keogh (1972), Fanahan McSweeney (1972), Liam O'Brien (1984), Marcus O'Sullivan (1984, 1988 and 1992), Barbara Johnson (1988) and Sonia O'Sullivan (1992).

Profiles of these athletes follow, and included are two further Cork Olympians - Dave Guiney (1948) and Joe West (1952). Both competed at Olympics prior to the formation of BLE, but, nonetheless, both have profiles as they continue to provide the athletics world with much needed support.

Three further 'Cork' Olympians are herewith mentioned, but are not included in the listing as such. PETER MAHER competed for Canada, at the 1988 and 1992 Celebrations. Peter was born in Ottawa, of Irish parents. During the early 'eighties' he returned to Ireland - North Cork in particular, where he fell under the guidance of Fr Liam Kelleher. Peter resumed training with the local North Cork AC, and soon was a scoring member of Cork County teams, at Regional and National level.
He subsequently returned to Canada, and duly competed for that country at the last two Olympic Games. One of the more
thrilling sights of the 1989 World Championships was that of Peter, in full flight, leading the marathon for much of the opening miles. Another to run in an Olympic marathon was JOHN WOODS, of Liverpool, and one time Grange man. John was a regular with the Grange club, in the early 'eighties', and ran in many a 'Grange' International, and the National Championships, winning several titles.

In 1988 he barely missed out on the 10,000 metre standard wher winning the National title but subsequently ran in the    Seoul marathon - for Ireland. Another adopted Corkman is SEAN D0LLMAN, of Leevale. Sean's connection with Ireland is    through his mother, who is Irish; his link, and how he actually became a member of Leevale, is somewhat obscure! Nonetheless he made the qualifying time for the 10,000 metres at the last Olympic Games, and duly took his place in the line up.

More recently Sean has been injured, thus explaining his non-appearance at the National cross-country Championships, in which he placed, in 1990 and 1991. He is one though of whom more will be heard in the future.

Whatever of adopted Corkmen, the following pages cover those Olympians who have been born in the county.


Dave Guiney (London, 1948)

Dave Guiney must surely be among the best known sports personalities in Ireland. Here in Cork, his column in the Thursday edition of the EVENING ECHO attracts a readership, not only here in Cork, but throughout Ireland, and indeed abroad in England, and elsewhere. Yet Dave's career as a journalist is but a small part of what has been, and still is, quite a remarkably active life.

dave guiney london 1948

Born into a family that had a keen interest in sport, it was hardly surprising that Dave should follow in the family tradition. There were National Champions in such diverse events as the shot and discus, the high and long jump, as well as the decathlon. Indeed the Guiney name was celebrated for its athletic 'talents'. There were also the odd Rugby International 'cap', and many other sporting honours, so Dave's involvement in athletics, to the highest level, was hardly a surprise - he was yet another of the Guiney family to thread the way to International stardom and beyond.

The list of Championship and International successes are lengthy and, as such, it is better to list them fully rather than dwell too long on any single one success. Space precludes such in enlargement, as the achievements are many.

The first of Dave's titles, at National level, were won when he took the shot and javelin, at the Youth Championships in 1940. He was altogether more successful the following year at these particular Championships, winning no less than five titles - shot, discus, javelin, high and long jumps. By this time he also was in the National record books, as he shared the National long jump record with Kevin O'Flanagan.

The first senior National title came in 1944, when he won the shot, setting a Championship record in the process. This was the start of quite a remarkable sequence of Championship titles in the shot,  as Dave remained undefeated until 1957 - some fourteen titles in all! In 1946 he was the Irish and British shot putt champion, and was also Ireland's sole representative at the (1946) European track & field championships, held that year in Oslo, Norway.

By now Dave was among the top thirty shot putters in the World. His first ranking at this level was in 1943, and he was to remain at this standard throughout the 'forties', securing a berth in the top twenty on a number of occasions. He was among top 'putters' in Europe at a time when the Scandanavian and British shot putters were at their prime. It was hardly surprising then that there followed so much success abroad - the 'war' was over, and International competition once again resumed.

In 1947, he followed in the illustrious steps of another altogether all-time great of Irish shot putting - Denis Horgan. Denisis too, like Dave, was also a Duhallow man. That year he won his first AAA shot putt title. Denis, of course, was a Champion shot man, in the decades either side of the turn of the century, He carried away quite an array of AAA Championship titles, so it fitting that another Duhallow man should be the next Irishman to win an AAA shot title. Dave defended that 1947 title successfully the following year - a year that also saw Olympic participation at the XIV Olympic Games, held of course in London.

Dave was a regular on Irish International teams, from 1946 until 1957, when he retired from the circle. He won the 'shot' in 1947, 1948 and 1951, at the triangular meet, Ireland Vs England Vs Scotland, this was quite some distinction considering the standard of putting in England and Scotland at the time. There were also to be International calls in Holland, Norway and Sweden to name but a few countries.

Between 1947 and 1953 Dave set several National shot figures, from 14.71 metres - his first, to 15.23 metres - the last mark. There also being several National records set in between these two marks.

Besides athletics there were other sports that attracted his very capable talents. He was a noted footballer and played with the Cork team at minor level, winning a Munster medal in 1938 at this level. There were also forays into the world of rugby, and Dave donned the shirts of Kanturk RFC and Clontarf RFC.

His career with the 'press’ is as outstanding as his athletics career. There was involvement with the SPORT MAGAZINE, THE SUNDAY CHRONICLE, THE SUNDAY GRAPHIC, THE EMPIRE NEWS, THE IRISH PRESS, THE EVENING PRESS, and THE IRISH INDEPENDENT. Dave was sports' editor of the IRISH PRESS, and Irish sports' editor of the SUNDAY MIRROR. He 'retired' in 1986 but yet remains involved with the EVENING ECHO and is also the editor of SPORTSWORLD.

When not busy with the latter two, he occasionally has the odd book published. In all, there have been thirty such put into 'print' since the early 'seventies! The topics covered vary and include books on hurling, football, golf, rugby and of
course athletics, and the Olympic Games.

Dave is a member of the International Society of Olympic Historians, chairman of the rugby writers of Ireland, and president of the Association of Sports Journalists in Ireland. He was also the Irish delegate to a number of World Sports Press Congresses over the years and has reported on every Olympic Games since Tokyo in 1964.

As a finale Dave was appointed Press Attache to the Ireland Olympic Team, for the Barcelona celebrations, in 1992, and duly filled that position with enthusiasm and dignity. He did not simply fill that role, as many of the Olympic team will readily relate, but also acted in a number of other capacities to ensure that spirits remained high when the odd athlete did not meet with success in the sporting arena. There was a tremendous rapport with the athletes - a rapport very much in evidence when Dave walks into any athletics complex in the country. Dave's knowledge of athletics and sport in general is near encyclopediac. This extends to the Olympic Games and in particular Irish participation therein. His continued guest for data and information is truly amazing and remains never ending. This is matched by an enthusiasm for the subject which is passed on to all those that he comes in contact with. Dave remains a charismatic figure, one not easily forgotten.



John Hartnett (Munich, 1972)

The major individual success in Irish athletics of 1970 was, without doubt, the victory of John Hartnett in the International Junior cross-country Championships. These were held in Vichy and it was a tremendous boost for the new association to have a victory of this nature at a major Championships.

john hartnett mardyke

It was to be another four years before John was to realise his potential over cross-country on the 'home' scene. In 1974 he won the National inter-county Championship, and led the Cork team to the inter-county title. He was on another Cork winning team in the 1981 race, as Tony O'Leary of Leevale swept to the winner's rostrum.

John studied at Villanova, where he was on scholarship, and there trained under the guidance of James Elliott, the legendary coach. By 1972, he held the National 5,000 metres record with 13:43, which, of course, was inside the Olympic qualifying standard for the Munich Games. On return from America that Summer, he contested the 10,000 metres at the National Championships, held that year in Banteer. These 1972 Championships rank as among the best ever, as many an athlete still was striving for Olympic qualifying standards.

John was among the leaders throughout, as the pace never slackened. In a pulsating finish, he got to the tape first, and returned a very respectable 29:02.4. At the Olympic Games, in Munich, John never ran to his true potential, and trailed in his heat of the 5,000 metres. He duly returned a time of 14:34.6 to place twelfth in that heat.

At the National Championships in 1973, held in Cork for the second year in succession - this time at the Mardyke, John took the 1,500 metre crown. Again he showed great tactical sense and his time of 3:45.9 was good. This was to prove his second and last individual Championship success.

The following year, the European track & field Championships were held in Rome, and John was selected to contest the 1,500 metres. Unfortunately he again did not attain the standard he was so capable of, and duly placed seventh in his heat.

Many will remember John in that very year, at the Cork City Sports. John's performance in the mile was outstanding, and, as the MARATHON magazine headlined the report, he was 'The Star of (the) Cork City Sports'.

That evening in July, John ran the first four minute mile in Ireland for quite some time. It was John's first appearance that Summer at 'home', after taking third place at the American AAU Championships earlier that year. Tony O'Leary set the pace early on, and the quarter was passed in 57.1. Eamonn Coughlan then took over on the second lap. Eamonn himself was looking for a European qualifying time, so the pace was not allowed to slacken, and the half was passed in 1:57.5. Here John drew level with the future World Champion.

At the bell, passed in 2:56.2, the scene was set for a very fast mile. To quite deafening cheers, the Grange man sped around the last lap, and came home in 3:56.3 - easily the fastest mile on grass and surely equal to a sub-3:50 on an artificial surface.


Barbara JOHNSON (Seoul, 1988)

Barbara has a long interest in athletics, going back to the time when she won gold at the U-ll BLOE All-Ireland Chanpionships, in 1973. This was in the high jump. There then followed something of a retirement, until Fr Liam Kelleher resurrected her career.

She was now sixteen, and a year later she showed her true potential, when she won the National under-17 pentathlon. Competing in the North Cork colours, she was still coached by Fr Kelleher. She went to UCC, where she continued her athletics training, and competes successfully at Inter-Varsity level. There were many successful forays at County and Provincial level, and indeed, with the UCC team, at Inter-Varsity Championships in the early and mid Eighties.
At University she also continued with her other main sporting interest - hockey, and indeed played with the UCC team, obviously her fitness for the game was hardly ever in doubt or questioned!

Like the majority of all-round athletes - those that specialize in multi-events that is - she had quite an aptitude for the 400 metre hurdles. It is in this event that all the attributes of a multi-eventer shine forth; strength, agility, power, speed, stamina and technique.

Barbara quickly developed into the best woman quarter hurdler in the country. There followed many successes in this event, among which was the hat trick of wins at the National Championships, from 1987 to 1989 inclusive. By this time it was Billy Oakes who ensured that she kept to training schedules and programmes. Billy himself is a well known sprinter and horizontal jumper. A regular International throughout the 'eighties', Billy is among the best triple jumpers that this Country has seen for many a year.

A regular on the Irish International team, Barbara duly qualified for her first major Championships in 1988. These were the World Athletic Championships, and, that year, Rome were the hosts. Barbara ran in the 400 metre hurdles, clocking 58.72 in her heat. She was also on the 4x400 metre women’s relay team - combining with Michelle Carroll, Patricia Amond and Patricia Walsh. The quartet were eighth in their heat, in a very good clocking of 3:32.56. The following year, Barbara secured the Olympic qualifying standard, at the National Championships, when she crossed the line in 57.93 seconds. That standard had already eluded her on a number of occasions that Summer. She was subsequently nominated as woman athlete of the meet at these National Championships.

Barbara’s consistency and dedication ensured a strong performance in Seoul, and again she ran a great race. She was sixth in her heat of the 400 hurdles in a time of 58.61.

She retained her National title the following year, and, since then, has maintained a high level of fitness. She still competes, and is a regular at Provincial and County Championships, over distances as varied as the 100 metres to the 400 metres. Her level of fitness is very high, and she is still capable of a respectable time over the ’low’ hurdles.


Mike KEOGH (Munich, 1972)


Mike was born in Midleton and he was seven when the family moved to New York. Mike Keogh was one of the outstanding schoolboy athletes in the United States, being invited to the all-star meeting in California.

He ran the fastest three miles by an American first-year University student, with a 13 minutes 33 second clocking. That
same year, he ran the second fastest indoor prep two miler, when returning 9:08.4. This was good enough for a third placing in the Philadelphia Classic, on a tight twelve lap to the mile circuit! Behind him was Donie Walsh, and there were immediate comparisons with a former Manhattan student - Marty Liquori. There followed further successes in the outdoor season. At the Penn Relays, he clocked 9:13.2 for the two miles, and then, in New Jersey, an 8:57.4 timing. Finally, he defeated the cream of American two milers in the Golden West, with 8:54.0 - the fastest prep clocking of the year.

Mike returned to his native Midleton for the first time since emigrating with his parents in 1971. He did not compete then,
but, nonetheless, he had his eyes firmly set on making Ireland's Olympic team the following year. Despite missing much of the season - some five months due to injury - tendon problems - he did clock 8:57.9 for two miles, and 13:33.8 for the extra mile, at the Freedom Games, in Philadelphia, that year. With another winter's training, he believed he was capable of making the Olympic qualifying time, in the 5,000 metres.

In the early Summer season of 1972, he defeated Tom Cryan in a 4:01.7 mile, and then finished sixth in the American Collegiate 5,000 metre Championships, in 13:48.4 - four tenths outside the Olympic standard. However the following week he won the American A.A.U. title, in 13:51.4, and, with his confidence boosted, again ran the '5', securing the necessary 13:46.8 at Portland.

He had realised his life long ambition - that of running for Ireland at the Olympic Games. In his first race in the Irish
singlet in Basle, Switzerland, he spreadeagled the field with a smashing last lap victory, clocking 13:49.6. Three days later he ran a 3:43 for 1,500 metres.

That Summer, he was defeated at the National by John Dooley in the 1,500 metres. The National Championships that year were held in Banteer.

That September Mike toed the line in his heat of the 5,000 metres. He was 5th in a time of 13:57.8.

His dream had become a reality.



Fanahan McSWEENEY (Munich, 1972)

At his best Fanahan was a brilliant athlete, with a turn of speed often reserved for the 400 metre specialists, in the Indoor American circuit. Relaxed and out of competition, he was very much a realist. After his elimination in the semi-final stage of the European Championships, in 1971, he moved up to the 800 metres. Despite a big programme of distance training, he was found wanting in the final 200 metres of the event, but the background stood to him, when he returned to the 400.

A native of Castletownroche, he excelled in his early years as a hurler, and won minor All-Ireland medals with the County. After some novice successes, he burst into the limelight at the Ballyhooly Open Sports, in 1968. That day, he looked every part the future champion, and that was the view of Billy Nestor, himself a keen observer of the sport, and one who knew a thoroughbred when he saw one. That year, he broke the National 220 yard record with a 21.6 clocking - Fanahan had arrived.


Fanahan was to hold Irish National records, at 220 yards, 200 metres, 440 yards, and 400 metres. With John Hartnett having National records from the 1,500 metres up to the 5,000 metres, it must surely be something of a record, that two athletes from the one club could have that many National records. His 400 metre time of 46.3 seconds was, in fact, taken as the record, despite having clocked it for 440 yards. That clocking came in an indoor race, behind Fred Newhouse, a future Olympic multi-medallist, over the quarter and relay, who, that evening, was setting an indoor World record. Fanahan's time was a European record.

A scholarship to McNeese had allowed Fanahan the opportunity to train and compete to a level that was indeed world class. His actual choice of McNeese is a story in itself. The coach there at the time was one Bob Hayes, and when the youthful and impressionable Fanahan was checking the various scholarships on offer, that name rang a very loud bell. Believing him to be the 1964 Olympic 100 metre gold medallist, and among the all-time greats of sprinting, Fanahan's mind was made up, and McNeese it was. It took Fanahan a couple of days to realise the error, and the Bob Hayes he was calling ' coach' was, in fact, his Coach, and not, as he thought, the legendary sprinter.

Whatever of his former capabilities as a coach, Bob Hayes had few peers, and Fanahan quickly settled into something of a celebrity on the indoor circuit. In those years, in the early 'seventies', the sight of an Irishman taking on the best of the South sprinters was something the crowd appreciated very much. The fact that Fred Newhouse was among his main rivals, and that they traded wins, added to the excitement and anticipation of the crowd. Here was a world class white sprinter!
At McNeese, Fanahan was always among the very best athletes. He was the University Most Valuable Athlete on a number of occasions. On the indoor scene, he was tremendously popular, and invariable gave the crowd what they wanted - a victory in a brisk time.

It should be added that there were in fact to be three McSweeney brothers to take up athletic scholarships to American
Universities. Pat and Terry were to follow Fanahan across the Atlantic, and here again the family must have set something of a record!

Yet the indoors could be difficult. The continuous stress of running on a curved banked track took its toll on the body, and injuries were common. Fanahan remembers occasionally returning to his 'dorm' and walking up the flights of stairs backwards, due to these re-occurring leg injuries. The leg injury would remain with him throughout his athletics career, and, indeed beyond, after retirement from the track.

Yet whatever of early injuries, Fanahan burst onto the world scene, as he had done on the senior scene, in Ireland in 1968. At the 1970 World Student Games in Turin, Italy, Fanahan qualified for the semi-final stages. The European indoor championships followed, in Vienna, and there he missed out narrowly on the medals. A bad start did not help, yet it should be remembered that 400 metre running in Europe at the time was at a very high standard.

The 1971 European Championships, in Helsinki, saw yet another good performance, as he reached the semi-final stages of the 400 metres. The following year he secured qualification for the Olympic Games in Munich, and duly took his place in the starting line up for the quarter. Yet by now injury was causing some concern; he was quite capable of a one off world class run, but at major championships, with heats and semi-finals before a final, Fanahan found himself at a disadvantage.

Back in Ireland, Fanahan was a regular throughout the county, at open sports, and at the Cork City Sports. He was never beaten over twelve races at the City Sports, and won the Pat Lynch Memorial Trophy for the hundred yards in 1970, 1971 and 1972, thereby laying claim to that particular artifact. At home, like in the American Indoor scene, he was the King.

At a time, when there were many capable 400 metre runners in Cork, not to mind Ireland - Cashel Riordan, Brendan Mooney, Brendan Crowley, Maurice Power and Mick Dooley, to name a few - Fanahan's supremacy was quite exceptional. The one person he had the greatest respect for was Pat Lynch - the St Finbarr's sprinter who was rather tragically killed in a car crash in the early 'seventies' before his career blossomed to its fullest. Yet even with Brendan O'Regan clocking 10.5 seconds for the hundred metres Fanahan still claimed the spot as premier sprinter in Ireland.

Remembering Fanahan in his sprinting days is to bring back a memory of an athlete that looked every part the world class athlete that he truly was. It was Doctor Pat O'Callaghan who looked upon the Grange/Fermoy athletic clubman as one of the greatest natural talents that this country ever produced. That, coming from one of the all time greats of athletics, does say something of the high regard that anyone who saw Fanahan in full flow holds him.

Retirement followed in the late 'seventies' with the leg still a problem. In subsequent years, Fanahan continues in the form that made him so renowned a figure on the world scene; his battle with illness continues to the present.

[Epilogue: Fanahan McSweeney battled Cancer for several years, and died on July 27th 1995. May he Rest in Peace]


Margaret MURPHY (Munich, 1972)

 margaret murphy

Margaret Murphy 

The outstanding local woman athlete of the late 'sixties' and early 'seventies' was undoubtedly Margaret Murphy, of the Ovens Athletic Club. Her specialities were sprinting and jumping, hurdling and shot putting, but she was a great all-rounder and a quite natural athlete, who took to any event with great enthusiasm and ability.

At the close of 1967 season, she was placed second in the shot, at the All-Ireland Women's Championships, in Clanwilliam, County Tipperary. In 1968, she won the County Championship 220 yards, and was second in the triple jump.

She won the 100 yards at the Cork City Sports, from 1968 to 1972. In 1968, also she won the National shot and triple jump events, was runner-up in the 100 yards and 220 yards, and third in the long jump - quite some achievement. That same year, she also won her first Munster title - the 100 yards. The following year, 1969, she won four gold medals in the County Championships, and six golds in the Munster championships.

At the All-Ireland Championships, she won the long jump, and the triple jump, and was second in the 100 metre hurdles. She also on the County and All-Ireland Pentathlon Championships. In 1970, she won five gold medals in the County Championships, eight in the Munster Championships, won the All-Ireland long jump and 100 metres hurdles, and was second in the shot, 100 metres and pentathlon. In June of that year, she set a new Irish record of 5.56 metres in the long jump.

The following year, 1971, she stretched her long jump to 6.06 metres, at the Banteer sports. She later won the National pentathlon title, and the 100 metres hurdles. She secured selection for her first International, in Spain, as well as competing in the European Championships, in Helsinki. There she qualified for the semi-final of the 100 metres hurdles in spite of injuring her ankle in the heats.

In 1972, she retained her National pentathlon title, and added the long jump and 100 metres hurdles, as well as being runner-up in the high jump, and third in the shot and 100 metres. That year, she competed in Holland, West Germany and London, and in the Olympic Games in Munich. She competed in the high hurdles and pentathlon at these Games. There were two more National titles the following year, before she retired from the sport. Among the many awards she received were Munster Athletics Sports Star in 1970, the Curtin Cup for best all-round athlete at the Cork County Championships, 1969 to 1973, the American Trophy for the best individual performance at the Cork City Sports, in 1971, and the O'Brien Cup for the best all-round athlete at the Munsters, from 1969 to 1972 inclusive.

In addition to her competitive career, Margaret prepared and printed a coaching guide to the then 'new' and innovative high jump technique, that Dick Fosbury initiated at the 1968 Olympics.

The full tally of her awards and International, National, Regional and County successes over the few years certainly singles her out as the top woman athlete of her time, and indeed among the very best woman athletes that this country has seen.



Liam O'BRIEN (Los Angeles, 1984)

liam o brien chapter 6 looking back
Liam O’Brien took up athletics in 1966, with the formation of Midleton AC, achieving a moderate degree of success in his juvenile years. Liam won his first National medal at the first BLOE - then of course called Irish Juvenile athletic board - championships, in 1967. Since then Liam has won a National medal of some description, either individual or team, every year, up to the present time.

The highlights of his juvenile career were winning his first National title, in the under 16 1,000 metre steeplechase, in 1971 and, in the following year, winning the senior boys 2,000 metre steeplechase, at the All-Ireland schools in Santry.

During the years at Thomond College, Liam won the Inter-Varsity 1,500 metres, and finished 3rd to Frank Murphy Junior, of Clonliffe Harriers, in the National senior 800 metre championship, in 1976.

Track and field in Cork at that time was still very much dominated by the Open Sports, with an event held virtually every Sunday. It was in this environment that he served his apprenticeship to the sport, having to graduate out of novice ranks, and work his way down to the scratch mark in all the middle distance events. Here the emphasis was very much on participation and competing, with athletes regularly doubling, or trebling, up for the day. It helped to have sharp elbows and a fast finish to succeed in this environment. Sadly these type of sports have now declined, to the extent that, today, there is no exclusive senior open sports on the athletics calendar.

Liam has figured very prominently in National steeplechase championships since 1978 - not out of the medals any year and securing gold on ten occasions. He was selected for his first senior International in 1977, and has been on most team internationals since then, which include seven West Athletic competitions, and 6 Europa Cups.

The highlight of his track and field career has to be 1984, when he qualified for the Los Angeles Olympics by finishing 4th in the A.A.A.s 3,000 metre steeplechase, in a personal best time of 8:27.24. Here he advanced to the semi-final of the event. It was at this stage that he was also eliminated in the 1987 World Championships in Rome.

Liam’s results in cross-country over the years tend not to match his track performances. In 1973, he won the County novice title, and had to wait until 1989 before he won his only senior title. He had a little more success at Southern Region level, winning the senior provincial title in 1985 and 1986, and dead heating with Tommy Moloney in 1987. His best position in the National inter-clubs championship was 8th, in 1980. He was also a scoring member on the victorious Cork teams that captured the National inter-counties in 1981, 1983 and 1985. He missed the 1984 success due to illness, the only occasion where he had to drop out of a race.

The highlights of Liam’s participation on the road are 45 victories in the Ballycotton Summer Series, 4 victories in the Ballycotton 10, and assisting East Cork AC to two national road relay titles.



Marcus O'SULLIVAN (Los Angeles. 1984, Seoul 1988 & Barcelona 1992)

marcus o sullivan looking back page 80b marcus o sullivan looking back page 80a
(Left) Marcus O’Sullivan (’seventies) tucked in behind Owen FitzGerald of Togher. (Right) The same pair at the 1989 National Championships, with well known coach Der O'Donovan with the stopwatch. In his early running days Marcus diminutive stature was quite a sensation. He has grown in stature in more ways than one over the years

Marcus has, for some years now, been a dominant force on both the domestic and World middle distance scene. A triple World champion, his level of performance over the past decade is such that he ranks among the greats of middle distance running, and he bears comparison, not in an Irish context but on the world stage, for he has long been on the world rankings in his specialities of the 1,500 metres and its imperial equivalent - the mile.

Being somewhat small in stature when younger, he was advised at Colaiste Criost Ri on one occasion 'to sit down, before he did himself an injury'. Early efforts to secure a place on the school's cross-country team was equally greeted with the comment to the effect that cross country could well 'be a little too strenuous for someone his size. Nonetheless Marcus' determination, which would be a constant hallmark of his subsequent career on the track, was already very much in
evidence. His PE teacher, Bernard Martin, was also one who believed in full participation, and as such, Marcus had no other choice than to take part in the athletic programme offered at the school.

Marcus joined Leevale at an early age, where his coach was none other than the great Donie Walsh. It was the former    Olympian who provided the impetus, and was the instigator of one of the great careers in athletics. At the time, Marcus was more of a cross-country runner - indeed there was a run in the World Championships in Longchamps at the time. Donie believed that this 4:06 1,500 runner was a true miler, and not a cross-country man, so the training for that year was geared towards that end. The outcome was a 3:47.6 clocking for the 1,500 metres, at the National seniors, behind Eamonn Coghlan. He did claim a National title that year, when taking the Junior 5,000 metres, beating Brian O'Keeffe and Brian Roche, the pre-race favourites. Scholarship to Villanova followed, as did Marcus' rise to prominence on the international scene. He became an Olympian in 1984, reaching the semi-finals of both the 800 metres and the 1,500 metres, setting new National figures in the former. There followed a silver in the European Indoors and another National record - still standing - in the 800 metres of 1:45.87.

That same year, he was a member of the Irish quartet who 'broke' the World best for the 4X1 mile relay. Eamonn Coghlan, Frank O'Meara and Ray O'Flynn were the others on the team, and Marcus did run the quickest of the four - 3:55.3.
The 1986 European Championships saw a finals placing of sixth in the 1,500 metres as the indoors continued to provide even more successes. Two world championship finals were reached in 1987; the first ever Indoor World 1,500 metre title was secured at Indianapolis, and, later in the year, Marcus placed seventh in the 1,500 metres at the inaugural World Championships in Rome. 1988 was Olympic year and Marcus did better than his first outing at this level - placing eight in the 1,500 metres final in Seoul.

Earlier that season he was a member of the Irish team that won the prestigious New York Ekiden Relay for the Asvcs Cup. His 13:52 time for the 5 kilometre leg ensured that the Irish team were very much to the fore when he passed the baton. The team that day comprised Frank O’Meara, John Treacy, Roy Dooney and John Doherty and with Peter Maher in the Canadian team there was plenty for the Irish spectator to cheer on.

The indoor season of 1988/1989 saw Marcus’ best form to date. He ran a World Indoor record of 3:35.6, at Meadowlands, and started among the favourites for the World Indoor 1,500 metre title, the Championships being held in Budapest, Hungary. He duly obliged, with a great win in a new Championship record of 3:36.64. Marcus regards this performance as the best of his three World Indoor successes. The atmosphere was second to none, and there was a huge Irish contingent present to cheer him on to his second title on the trot.

On the subject of times. Marcus' best for the mile is 3:50.9 - set indoors. This was run in 1988 a year before he ran his
1,500 metre World Indoor record time of 3:35.6. However during his 3:50 mile he passed the 1,500 metre mark in a time which was sub-3:34. The timekeepers neglected to stop the watches though. and so Marcus lost out on an even better World Indoor record time.

A brief flirt with the 5,000 metres saw Marcus reach the final of that event at the 1990 European Championships but he was never really at home with the longer distance. He feels that the days of milers 'moving up' to the ’5’ are long gone, as
specialization has taken over. The degree of training now required to attain world status in these longer events are such that concentration at an early age is required to reach the very top. Yet Marcus’ best for the distance is still a respectable 13:27 clocking.

Last year, he ran a personal best of 3:34.57 for the 1,500 metres in Nice, and also reached the semi-final stages of the 1,500 metres, at Barcelona, his third Olympics, and indeed was most unfortunate not to have made the final. The smallest fraction separated him from this singular achievement.

His appetite for the ’big time’ did not desert him this past indoor season, and at Toronto, at the fourth World Indoor Championships, he again struck gold in his favourite event. Three successes in four attempts at these Championships - at this level - surely singles Marcus out as among the all-time greats of middle distance running.

One could continue at length about Marcus' career, indoors and outdoors, recounting various races, canting or records ana achievements. However suffice to say that Marcus’ standing on the world middle distance stage is at the very highest level; it has been there for some time, and the fact that he is currently running in sub-3:36 times for the 1,500 metres, his speciality, suggests that we will be hearing of further successes and achievements from our internationally renowned athletics’ ambassador. Long may he be a feature of the City Sports, which appears very much to be a third ’home' to this great Corkman.


Sonia O'SULLIVAN (Barcelona, 1992)

On a Friday evening last September, Sonia was crowned the IAAF women's 5,000 metre Grand Prix winner for 1992. Her superb victory in the 5,000 metres, at the Grand Prix final, in Turin, guaranteed her overall victory in this particular event. This was the culmination of a glorious year on the track for the Ballymore/Cobh athlete.

And what a twelve month period it had been. Whatever success she attained before last Summer had been put in the shade by the tremendous achievements on the tracks of Europe. She thrilled us all with gold and silver at the World Student Games, in the Summer of 1991, before settling to further success over the cross country, in the United States, where she was a student at Villanova University.

Sonia is very much a product of the BLOE competitive circuit, having as it were 'come up through the ranks'. Successes at juvenile level were quickly followed by National cross-country championship winning performances, as Sonia quickly developed into an athlete of whom it was felt that great things were in the offering.

Her first medals at Provincial level were won, not in running, but in the walking events. However she quickly added to her tally of Championship medals, and in one memorable season won the National senior, the National junior and the Colleges cross-country Championships. She was on her way.

Scholarship to Villanova followed and, with it, more successes - both indoors and outdoors.

Among the heady achievements of the 1990/91 indoor season was that World Indoor 5.000 metre record, of 15:17.28. Sonia continued to make even greater progress on the track during the following Summer.

Her 1991/1992 winter training was very much in evidence with a superb seventh place at the World cross-country Championships early in Boston. The question then was whether the track fora be as good in the Summer. There was pre-Olympic success at the City Sports and elsewhere in Europe and much was expected of her at the Barcelona Olympic Games.

Sonia did not disappoint her growing legion of fans in Cork City and County. Fourth in the 3,000 metres and a semi-final spot in the 1,500 metres, in her first Olympics, was quite some achievement, although Sonia herself may well have been disappointed, such was her own expectations. Yet the experience of running at these Games will surely stand her in good stead for the future, as she appreciates all the more the very narrow divide between winning gold and being placed.

Her post Olympic success on the tracks of Europe ensured a World ranking among the elite of middle distance runners. Irish records fell in such a torrent that the statistician had difficulty in tabulating the new marks for various distances, from the 1,500 metres to the 5,000 metres inclusive. Her Grand Prix, at the end of the 1992 track season, ensured her a command of the attention of the whole athletics world. At such a young age, there is still obviously much to come; no doubt there will be Olympic and World Championship successes and the odd record!


Donie WALSH (Munich, 1972)

looking back 2 donie walsh
The manner in which Donie Walsh won the Irish marathon Championship in late June, 1972 will always be remembered by those who were fortunate to have been in Athlone on the day. As a result of his winning in 2:15:21.4, he was an immediate and automatic choice for the then forthcoming Olympic Games in Munich. He was also reckoned to be in with a very good chance of a medal.

Donie was by then a graduate of Villanova University. He had earned a very large reputation as a fine athlete on the American Indoor circuit and on the outdoor cross-country scene. There had been many a memorable success in America over these years prior to 1972, and, among the better achievements, was a third place in the National Collegiate 10,000 metres. Donie had also attained a very impressive array of times; 8:40.4 for an Indoor two mile, 13:27 for three miles and 28:52.6 for 10,000 metres.

Yet Donie readily admits that his first year at Villanova was something quite unexpected, as he suffered from 'culture shock'; training was intense and exacting. Yet he maintained the effort, and duly was awarded with the success that hard training yields. There is a memory of the NCAA 6 miler in June 1969, when the temperature reached 85 degrees. Donie remembers passing the three mile stage in 14:35 but has no recollection of the rest of the race, and, in particular, the last six laps!

Donie brought with him a most refreshing attitude towards his running, an attitude he still maintains, and all those that come into his orbit will readily appreciate - his keeness and utter commitment to the athlete and for the sport.

It was back in the mid-'sixties' that Donie first got interested in athletics. He won the half mile at the 'North Mon' school sports, and was subsequently second in the South Munster Colleges 880 yards, and third in the same event at the Munsters.

He initially joined Montenotte AC, where he fell under the guidance of Brian Murphy and Kevin Barry.

In 1966 he set All-Ireland College figures of 14:33 in taking the three miles. He had earlier taken the Munster Colleges three miles in 14:57; the first lap he covered in 66 seconds, and the last in 69.2. What the opposition thought of it one wonders! That year he posted personal bests of 2:02 for the 880, 4:21.7 for the mile, and 14:18 for three miles.

Success in Ireland quickly followed and with it National medals and International 'caps'. In March 1968, he ran for Ireland in the International cross-country in Tunisia, and so set off an International career which remains unparalleled.

Scholarship to Villanova followed, and with it even further successes. At the World Student Games in Turin, in 1970, he finished fourth, in a very good 10,000 metres, before running another personal best for the 5,000 metres. The respective times were 29:31.6 and 14:09.8.

He ran courageously in the 1971 European Championships, in Helsinki, in what still ranks as among the greatest of all duels at this distance. His National Record performance was quite outstanding, as the top medalists broke the 28 minute mark,
which at the time was quite unheard of to run in a Major Championship event. His own time of 28:52.6 was exceptional in the circumstances, as Donie ran his own race, and was not put off by the local hero taking the gold.

That same year, he ran a 10,000 metres in an International in Spain, in 29:34, immediately after completing the seventeen hour journey from Dublin. He also took in the 5,000 metres, and won that too for good measure, in 14:16.6.

In early June, 1972 Donie ran a 10,000 metres in Oregan, in the hope of making the Olympic qualifying standard of 28:50. He returned a time of 28:53.6, and so had to concentrate further on a qualifying standard. On his return home he upped his training, and decided to concentrate on the marathon.

Prior to his Athlone marathon, his most memorable International outing came in Switzerland the month before. Here against the Swiss, he combined with team mate Niall Cusack, to annihilate the opposition before the two came 'home' arm-in-arm a hundred metres ahead of the field.

In Athlone, Donie ran the second fastest time in the World that year for the marathon. He literally scorched away and set a very quick momentum to match the 'scorching heat', as the CORK EXAMINER reported in the review of the race.

He was regarded as being a potential medalist, and as such had many a reporter coming to him in the Olympic Village. On the day of the Olympic marathon Donie felt confident enough to 'blast' away, and set a blistering pace. Unfortunately he was unable to maintain the impetus.

Back in Ireland, there continued an unending line of Championship medals and 'caps', as Donie dominated the cross-country and distance running scene in Ireland. Between 1973 and 1980 he ran in every World cross-country Championship, quite some achievement. He also won the National 10,000 metre title three times in four years - 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974 and 1975 anc was also second in 1972 to John Hartnett.

Over the cross-country courses of Ireland, he was very much the man to beat throughout the 'seventies. He started every County and Regional cross-country Championship as favourite in this decade, and at National level success followed on success.

There was individual gold in 1973, 1974, 1976 and 1978. He also won the inter-county Championship in 1973, and remains among the very few to have won both the inter-county and the inter-club Championship in the one season - 1973/74. Donie was also of course on the three Cork County winning teams in the 'seventies, and also collected quite an array of silvers and bronzes, both for individual and team performances.

As already mentioned, Donie figured on every Irish team at the World cross-country Championships from 1973 until the end of the decade. He was of course on that silver medal winning combination at Limerick, as John Treacy struck individual gold for the second successive year. For Donie, the World silver was the culmination of a lengthy and quite extraordinary career.
He remains among the best ever distance runners that Ireland has seen, and his experience and expertise are now readily given through his coaching with the Leevale Club.


Joe WEST (Helsinki, 1952)

Joe was born and reared in Carrigaline, in the area where he still lives. He was an accomplished all-round sportsman, and starred in athletics, hurling, football and bowling. His interest in athletics came via the 'Pathe News' film clips that were once such a part of the cinema. The sight of Son and Cabrera winning the 1936 and 1948 Olympic marathons attracted the young Joe West to athletics.

He was a member of the Owenabui Athletic Club, and won almost every race, from the half-mile to the marathon, through his initial involvement in the sport in the 'forties'. In 1943, he on the Cork Harrier Championship, and also the Cork senior Cross-Country, which he retained in 1945, and won again in 1947. He led his club to team success in 1945, and in 1951.

That year, he emigrated to England and, joining the Coventry Godiva AC, was equally successful in athletics there. He won several road races, and was a medal winner at Regional and National level, both with his club and Warwickshire. In 1952, he
was invited, by Billy Morton, to run in the AAAU marathon, which was being classed as an Olympic trial. Joe did not hesitate, even if the furthest he had run to date was a fifteen miler. Despite the presence of favourite John Henning, he duly won the title and below the 2:40 standard.

Back in England, he then took in the Polytechnic marathon, run on the Windsor to London course. He enjoyed his run, and beating John Henning again, was eleventh overall in 2:32. Joe was a nember of the two man Irish athletics squad at Helsinki. Joe accompanied Emil Zatopek, the eventual winner, for half the journey. He duly completed the course, deriving great satisfaction in realizing his dream of Olympic competition.

In 1954, he returned home to Carrigaline for good, and joined the Rising Sun Athletic Club. There were to be further successes on the roads. He won the 15 mile Irish Championship, in Killarney, in 1954, and retained it the following year, in New Ross, County Wexford. Before the Killarney race, he was approached by one of the Kerry athletes, who asked that, if Joe was leading coming into the town of Killarney, that he would allow the 'local' man to go through the town first. As it so happened, both had shaken off the rest of the field early on, and Joe granted the request! However, on entering FitzGerald Stadium, where the finish was, Joe accelerated away from his Kerry 'friend', and went on to win the gold medal, and the quite magnificent bronze 'Tailteann' shield for his achievement.

He won the 'marathon' at the City Sports the following year, and, here again, there is another story; the finish was on the track at the 'Dyke, and the athletes, coming from the start at Tivoli, had to run up the Mardyke Walk. Joe passed the entrance, believing it to be further up the 'dyke; he was stopped by a policeman. Donal O'Neill, who told him of his error and, despite the detour, Joe still went onto victory. He was also successful over cross-country, on his return, and won the Cork Senior 1954, helping his club Rising Sun to the team title.

At the present Joe remains very active and is a regular visitor at 'local' athletic meetings.

Looking Back - 25 Years of BLE in Cork - Chapter 3 - Consolidation and Maturity

LOOKING BACK - 25 Years of BLE in Cork




looking back 25 years of ble in cork book cover

Chapter 3 - Consolidation



The 1980 'Horae Countries' cross-country International saw Catherine Hourihan and Fionnuala Morrish carrying the Cork colours. Both figured in the County senior cross-country but were nonetheless behind the winner, Valerie O'Mahoney of Togher. John Hartnett of Grange took his fourth title as runner-up Donie Walsh lead Leevale to yet another club Championship.

At the George V. Ryan 'meet' in Dublin there were successes for Liam O'Brien in the steeplechase (8:49.3), Dave Murray in the high jump (2.02 metres) and Joy Murphy in the long jump (5.21 metres). The Nationals saw Liam O'Brien win his first steeplechase as Joe Brice and Mick O'Flynn retained their discus and triple titles respectively.

John Hartnett of Midleton won the pole vault with a 4.20 metre clearance and at the UCC Decathlon in July he topped the 6,000 points mark, establishing a new county record with 6,011 points. Barbara Johnson, a student at the College, competed in her first pentathlon.

The same month Frank O'Meara ran a 3:56 mile at the City Sports. There were other World Class performances including a 2.28 metre high but two athletes from the Soviet Union captured the    imagination of the crowd. Sergei Litvinov beat his compatriot Yuri Sedykh in the hammer - 82.20 metres / 80.34 metres. This was their first visit to Cork and the City Sports but the link would continue and indeed be reinforced with altogether better distance throwing.



Over the winter Richie Crowley had his first individual gold at the County Senior cross-country. Such was the middle distance talent in the County that Richie had to wait until now for that particular medal. Fionnuala Morrish of Leevale won the women's race and went on to win the National inter-county Championship, leading Cork to silver.

Robin Sykes, the National Coach, travelled to Cork in April and conducted a weekend course for coaches. Among the more memorable achievements was of County Board Secretary, Brendan Crowley, attempting the discus. Brendan's initial efforts were non too technical but Robin eventually enjoyed success as everyone's efforts were finally rewarded with Brendan actually managing a turn and some distance from the subsequent throw.

Eamon Coghlan took the mile at the City Sports in some style, breaking the National record in the process. His 3:52.11 underlined his standing in the wider World of athletics.

Michael Kiernan of Leevale and Dolphin RFC made his County debut and enjoyed a sprint double, returning very favourable times. The Irish rugby international took his talent to the National seniors and won gold over 200 metres, recording a personal best of 21.48 in the final. Liam O'Brien (steeplechase) and Joe Brice (discus) retained their National titles.

One Deirdre Murphy of Ballyvourney competed for Ireland in the 130 metre hurdles in Skopje, Yugoslavia with the hosts and Ireece providing the opposition. It surely was a proud moment for the parents as she maintained the family tradition. For Margaret, Deirdre's mother, it surely brought back memories of past glory, of Helsinki and Munich.

At the annual County Convention Reg Hayes, the outgoing Chairman, spoke at length on two topics - sport in schools and women's athletics. On the former he urged all clubs in the county to approach local schools in an effort to promote athletics and to inculcate the idea of the necessity of physical education and its place in the all-round education of the individual. Reg also spoke on the state of women's athletics, describing this area as being in a 'sad state of affairs'. Remedial action was necessary to ensure that standards did not fall further.



Among the motions passed was one sponsored by Leevale which lead to the establishment of a coaching sub-committee.

The 'Grange' International cross-country was again blessed with a number of World class athletes from overseas. Paula Fudge and Mick McLeod took the individual honours. Valerie O'Mahony of Togher and Tony O'Leary of Leevale in 5th and 16th places respectively were the first Cork runners 'home'.

Leevale enjoyed all-round success at the County senior cross-country providing individual winners in Tony O'Leary and Fionnuala Morrish and also taking both team titles. Fionnuala went on to win the National senior cross-country Championship as Tony led Cork to triumph in the inter-counties. The winning Cork squad included, besides Tony, John Hartnett, Richie Crowley, Pat White, Liam O'Brien and Billy Horgan. At the National seniors during the Summer Joe Brice took his fourth discus title in a row, his winning throw of 50.86 metres being the lowest of his four Championship returns. For Liverpool born John Woods, competing in the Grange colours, there was some disappointment in the 10,000 metres. He won gold but his new personal best time of 28:30.64 was outside the European qualifying standard of 28:30! Yet there was to be a European performance for John and he went on to finish seventeenth in the Athens final in 29:39.88.

Brendan Crowley in his Secretary's report to the annual Convention (1982) spoke on the upsurge in road running which he believed was having a detrimental effect on track & field athletics in Cork. He added that 'road running...(was) the most popular form of athletics within the county (now)' and that one good aspect of this boom was BLE and NACAI athletes running together, something that he hoped would spread to track & field and cross-country. However 'too many events packed into a season could result in events killing each other' - there were some twenty road races that year in the County.


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Looking Back - 25 Years of BLE in Cork - Chapter 1 - First Steps

LOOKING BACK - 25 Years of BLE in Cork



looking back 25 years of ble in cork book cover

Chapter 1 - First Steps


In April 1967 Billy Nestor wrote, in the EVENING ECHO, of the 1967 new agreement that lead to the birth of BLE - BORD LUTHCLEAS na hEIREANN. The special Congresses of the NACAI and the AAUE, held in Dublin, voted for the setting up of the new body which had been officially recognised by the International Amateur Athletic Federation, Billy commented on the fact that the new arrangements did not of course fully satisfy the demands of the athletics follower but nonetheless was a step in the right direction.

Billy was both secretary and 'press officer' on the first BLE County Board. John O'Connell, St Finbarr's was Chairman with John O'Leary, Leevale, and Noel Higgins, Cobh, the Vice-Chairmen. The post of Treasurer was filled by Jerry O'Leary of Grange and that of Vice-President by Pearse Wyse, St Finbarr's.

There was also a 'Ladies County Board' with Mary Jeffords, Leevale, president, her sister Phyllis was vice-president and Betty Cody, Bandon, in the 'Chair'.

The distinction of winning the very first BLE title fell to Dick Hodgins. The well known Leevale man, but then with Donore Harriers, took the Cork to Cobh race which incorporated the National 15 mile Championship. Dick returned a time of 75:18 with Bobby Buckley, Grange, some twenty five seconds behind in second place, but leading his club to team honours. Also scoring for Grange were Gerry Morrissey and Mick Russell.

If Dick had won the first BLE National title it fell to another Corkman to win the first Track Championship. The well known International, Mattie Murphy of the Rising Sun Club, had that honour when taking the 10 mile race on the Santry track in a time of 51:29.4.

In early June further history was made when a Queen's University team travelled from Belfast to compete in the Inter- Varsity Championships, hosted by UCC. The local students did well, all but winning the O'Sullivan Cup for the best all-round team. When the points tally were totalled UCD had retained the Cup narrowly. There were but the two Champions from UCC - Pat O'Riordan, the 'Varsity cross-country Champion, won the mile in 4:33,9 and the three miles in 14:51.5 and Mick O'Flynn who also recorded a double in taking the long, 6.35 metres, and triple, 13.22 metres, jumps.

However whatever of 'agreements' there did remain a number of the NACAI who did not approve of the new situation. At a special convention in late May a 'Cork County Board of the NACAI' was established with Jim Kearney as chairman. There was much general dissatisfaction with the efforts of unity and the situation was stated to be 'confused' with criticism being levelled at the new body, especially the Cork representatives.

Billy Nestor was quick to reply on behalf of the BLE County Board. He insisted that Jim Kearney was present at the (NACAI) County Board meetings in which the issue of unity was discussed; the (NACAI) County Board was, then, in favour of unity with few expressing a negative opinion on the subject. Billy's public relations experience was already standing him in good stead and would stand to him further in the following months as this and other 'thorny' issues would arise. Ballincollig were the hosts for the first sports under BLE auspices in the county in mid April and the first juvenile sports were organised by Togher a week later. Seventeen events in all were run off and there were in excess of three hundred athletes entered. Whatever of politics the athletics continued with sports being held throughout the county.

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About Us

Cork Athletics County Board is a constituent member of Athletics Ireland. Cork Athletics is the governing body, administering athletics, track and field (T&F), cross-country (XC) and running in county Cork. The Board comprises elected representatives of constituent athletic clubs and running clubs. Cork County Board AAI organises Championship races and competition, including road, track & field (T&F) and Cross-country (XC), at junior, juvenile, senior and masters levels, and selects representation for the county. In addition, training and education is provided for coaches and officials. The Board also regulates the Athletics Ireland race/event permit (licence) process for county Cork.
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