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Athletics Ireland Covid-19 Update September 2nd 2021

Athletics Ireland Covid-19 Update September 2nd 2021


athletics ireland covid 19

Athletics Ireland Release

Covid Update 2nd September 2021 Government Announcement - Reframing the challenge


Dear Athletics Ireland Stakeholder

On Tuesday night Government announced Ireland’s plan for the next and final phase of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All relevant information can be accessed here: Reframing the challenge, continuing our recovery and reconnecting


A full copy of the Plan is attached below

Please find below the key highlights and timelines for our sport

We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the significant work and commitment of all our stakeholders throughout the Pandemic


September 6th 2021

covid event guidelines sept 6 2021

Spectator Stadia Capacities

    For indoor sporting events spectators should be fully seated.

    Organisers should demonstrate full understanding of and adherence to best practice protective measures which should continue to apply, within these capacity limits and have COVID plans for events

    Waves of 200 participants plus 200 spectators continue for all competition including road races and cross country.


September 20th 2021

From September 20th the following apply to competitive sports training, competition and events

covid event guidelines sept 20 2021

    Capacity limits refer to the number of participants.

    Spectator attendance in stadia remain in line with the capacities outlined above.

Note the formal requirement to ensure social distancing, excellent hygiene and mask wearing as required at events. Covid19 is still with us.

October 22nd 2021

Based on the criteria of at or close to 90% of people 16 or over being fully vaccinated in the coming weeks, and having regard to the incidence and behaviour of the disease at that time, the Government plan to remove further statutory restrictions in respect of events and activities from 22nd of October.

Some of the following key measures will be removed;

  •    Formal requirements/mandates for physical distancing
  •     Limits on numbers at outdoor events and engaging in sporting activities outdoors
  •     Restrictions on indoor sports activities and other indoor leisure/community activities
  •     Certification of immunity or testing as a prerequisite for access to, or engagement in, any activities or events (with exception of international travel)

'Reframing the Challenge' Roadmap


5th Place in F41 Discus Final for Niamh McCarthy

Niamh McCarthy is Fifth in Tokyo Paralympic F41 Discus Final

Tokyo, Japan

Wednesday September 1st 2021


 niamh mccarthy tokyo 2020 paralympics photo sam barnes sportsfile

Niamh McCarthy, throws in F41 Discus Final Tokyo 2020 Paralympics - Photo: Sam Barnes / Shortsfile

tokyo 2020 paralympics f41 discus resultsResults of F41 Discus Final - Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

niamh mccarthy f41 final results tokyo 2020 paralympicsNiamh McCarthy's F41 Discus Final Results - Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

Athletics Ireland Report

McCarthy fifth in discus final

Niamh McCarthy finished fifth in the F41 discus final after throwing 28.94 metres in her final round.

The Cork woman, who took silver in the event at Rio, had been in the medal positions early on in the final but on a day of exceptional performances she couldn't quite find the edge.

Defending champion Roaua Tlili, of Tunisia, set a new world record of 37.91m to take gold ahead of Morocco's Youssra Karim (37:35m) whose teammate Hayat El Garaa took bronze with 29:30.

"I’m happy with my performance," McCarthy said afterwards.

"I know other people were expecting better things but it’s been a very hard few years so just to make it here and to have a few good throws I’m happy with that.

"My PB is over 30m and I’m a way’s off my season best. If you just look at the result you’d be thinking if I did slightly nearer to it I could have got a medal but I don’t think I could have done more today, I did as best as I could.

"Had the Games gone ahead last year I wouldn’t have been in them. I’ve been trying for years to get back to where I used to be so it’s been a difficult time. I’ve changed as a person. That’s not to say that those strengths aren’t in there but they’re not with me right now in the quantity that I’d like so I’m happy to just have made it to this competition.

"It was touch-and-go so I’m really proud of myself."


Tuesday Aug 31st

Orla Comerford was the sole member of Team Ireland to compete at the Olympic Stadium yesterday as she competed in the 3rd heat of the T13 100m. Orla faced a very strong field and new that to qualify she would need to break her personal best. She crossed the link in 4th position with a time of 12.87 which meant that she did not progress to the finals this evening. However, speaking after the race she revealed the difficulties that she has head whilst preparing for today’s event;

“Today the goal unfortunately wasn’t time and progressing through, it was when I got on the plane to Tokyo, and it was, in our opinion, a very realistic and achievable goal to be making that final and being competitive in it. You know, the expectation for this games have shifted an number of times this year with injury and we’ve had to adapt to those changes and unfortunately one of them came on the last day of training camp in Narita where I sustained a small tear in my quad so for me the last couple of weeks have been all about being in a position where I could go out and line up on the track, I knew there was no way that I could be realistically competitive and pushing for the times I would have expected from myself a month ago so, unfortunately, that was the reality today so the goal after that happened was to line up, to be there, to race, to cross the finish line and to be honest I wasn’t even sure that would happen.”

“Lining up was incredibly important for me with losing my coach, Brian Corcoran, two weeks ago. I saw him the day I left and I know that he was incredibly proud of me being here and being on the plane so for me it was about lining up and being there and I think he was with me every step of the way. To his family who have been so incredibly strong and so incredibly kind, I’m sure this has been an incredibly difficult time for them, it’s been a very difficult time for all of us, it was really hard being here by myself, I was lonely not being at home with the Raheny Shamrocks gang and his family and everything like that but I know that, at the end of the day, this is where he wanted me to be, he told me as much and so mu goal was to be out there and, while I knew I couldn’t make him proud with the times and the performance I hoped that he would be proud of my resilience and my drive to be out there on the starting line.”



Closing Date for County Track and Field Championships Day 1 2021

Entries Close on Tuesday for County Juvenile 17-19, Junior, Senior and Masters Track and Field Championships 2021

MTU Track

Sunday August 29th 2021


track and field entry forms 2021

Entries close at Midnight on Tuesday, August 24th, for next Sunday's (August 29th) County Juvenile under 17-19, Junior Senior & Masters Track and Field Championships

The Entry Forms and Timetable are available below and, as always, on the website Main Menu, under Forms and Entry Forms


The Meet Program has been significantly curtailed to enable compliance with Covid 19 Guideline and restrictions. In addition, Athletes may only enter a MAXIMUM of 2 events

Day 1 - Sunday August 29th 2021


County Junior T&F Entry Form - Excel File


County Senior T&F Entry Form - Excel File


County Masters T&F Entry Form - Excel File


Revised Program V4 - Fri 5pm


The Covid Questionnaire form MUST be completed by EVERYONE attending

Closing Date for all above races - 12 Midnight, Tuesday 24th August 2021

Further information on Procedures On the Day will be posted in due course

T& F Championships Days 2 & 3 2021

Entry Forms and Information Relating to Days 2 & 3 Will be Posted Here in the Coming Weeks

Registered Cork Athletics Road Races This Week - to Sunday August 22nd

Cork Athletics Road Races This Week - to Sunday August 22nd 2021


rathcormac 4 mile flyer 2021   churchtown road runners flyer 2021 2021 bweeng 10k flyer 2021 


 Register on


 Entries Closed

Register for Bweeng 5k


 Few races for ages, then, like the buses, three come along at once!

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic, all Athletics Ireland events are accepting Online Entries Only, with entry limits of 200, though some events like the Bweeng 5k are organising 2 separate waves, ensuring that the two waves do not intermix. 

Thursday August 19th: Rathcormac 4 Mile - Sold Out!


 Friday August 20th: The Churchtown Five Mile - Entries Closed

Sunday August 22nd: Bweeng 5k - Entries Still Open



September Road Races


cloyne 5k flyer 2021 a   beara ac 5 mile series flyer 2021 charleville half 2021  heart of allihies banner 2021 
Entries Open
Entries Open
 Entries Open Soon Entries Open Soon


Currently there are four races scheduled for September, with entries yet to open, though Cloyne and Glengarriff are open now


Cork Athletics Homepage


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One Week to Enter National Marathon Championship 2021

Athletics Ireland National Marathon Championship 2021


Sunday October 3rd 2021

 belfast marathon logo 2021

Belfast Marathon Logo 2021

Athletics Ireland has joined with Athletics Northern Ireland and the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon to host the 2021 National Senior Marathon Championships on Sunday October 3rd 2021

There are 100 male and 100 female National Championship entry place available, and expressions of interest are sought from athletes who have acquired suitable times over the last 3 years

Complete the On-Line Expression of Interest Form

The form must be completed by Thursday 19th August 2021

Runners who have already entered  the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon will have the opportunity to be included in the National Marathon Championships at a later date.

Registration is £63

Niamh McCarthy on 8 Member Irish Team for Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

Niamh McCarthy Heads to Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

Tokyo, Japan

August 24th - September 5th 2021

 niamh mccarthy tokyo announcement


tokyo 2020 summer paralympics logo a

Niamh McCarthy, Leevale AC, has been selected on the Eight person Irish ParaAthletics team for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, due to start on August 24th. Niam will compete in the F40 Discus on September 1st

Paralympic Ireland Release

Eight Athletes Named to Represent Ireland in Para Athletics

Paralympics Ireland have named a strong Para Athletics Team to represent Team Ireland at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

The world’s fastest Paralympian, Jason Smyth, will be the returning for his 4th Paralympic Games where he will hope to extend his amazing record of never having lost a competitive Para Athletics race. He will be joined on the team by fellow four-time Paralympian, Michael McKillop who has overcome serious injury to claim his place on the team where he will look to defend his 1500m gold medal.

World Championship bronze medallist and Paralympic silver medallist, Niamh McCarthy will compete at her 2nd Paralympic Games having finished second in the Discus in Rio. She will be joined as a two time Paralympian by her team mates, 1500m European champion, Greta Streimikyte, Wheelchair marathon athlete, Patrick Monahan and the returning Orla Comerford who has put her injury worries behind her to return for the 100m event.

Two athletes will be making their Paralympic debut as Kilkenny’s Mary Fitzgerald and Kerry’s Jordan Lee will become Ireland’s newest Paralympians in track and field. Mary Fitzgerald has been in superb form having set a new Personal Best thrown of 8:12m in the shot put in Templemore last weekend. Jordan Lee was a bronze medallist in the high jump at the European Championships in 2018 and has gained invaluable experience competing at the World Championships in 2019 and the European Championships earlier this year.

Greta Streimikyte will be the first member of the Para Athletics team to compete when she takes to the start line of the 1500m on day 4 of the Paralympic Games. On the following day, Sunday the 29th,  Jason Smyth and Jordan Lee will begin their Paralympic Games. Orla Comerford will compete in the 100 metre heats on Day 7 of the Games with Niamh McCarthy competing in the F41 Discus on Day 8. Michael McKillop must wait until September 3rd, Day 10 of the Games before he competes in the heats of the 1500m and should he progress to the final he will share the arena with Mary Fitzgerald on Day 14. Patrick Monahan will be the final athlete to compete for Ireland at Tokyo 2020 as he brings the curtain down on the Games for Team Ireland on closing day in the T53 Marathon.

In total there will be 29 athletes competing at the Paralympic Games for Team Ireland including the 8 person Para Athletics Team. They will be joined by Colin Judge (Para Table Tennis), Phil Eaglesham (Para Shooting), Britney Arendse (Para Power Lifting), Kerrie Leonard (Para Archery), Pat O’Leary (Para Canoe); Ellen Keane, Nicole Turner, Róisín Ní Ríain, Barry McClements and Patrick Flanagan (Para Swimming); Katie George Dunlevy & Eve McCrystal, Martin Gordon & Eamon Byrnes, Richael Timothy, Gary O’Reilly and Ronan Grimes (Para Cycling) and the 4 person Para Equestrian squad of Kate Kerr Horan, Rosemary Gaffney, Michael Murphy and Tamsin Addison.

The team will travel to the holding camp at Narita City on Thursday, August 12th departing from Dublin Airport on Aer Lingus flight EI 154 before transferring to the Athletes Village in Tokyo. 

Tokyo 2020 - Irish ParaAthletics Team

Greta Streimikyte 1500m T13 28 August 2021
Jason Smyth 100m T13 29 August 2021
Jordan Lee High Jump T47 29 August 2021
Orla Comerford 100m T13 31 August 2021
Niamh McCarthy Discus F41 01 September 2021
Michael McKillop 1500m T37 03 September 2021
Mary Fitzgerald Shot Put F40 04 September 2021
Patrick Monahan Marathon T54 05 September 2021

Related Articles


European Gold for Niamh McCarthy at Para Athletics Championships 2021


Niamh McCarthy among 6 Irish Athletes for European Para Athletics Championships - June 2021

Echo Feature on Paralympian Niamh McCarthy - August 2020


European Gold and European Record for Niamh McCarthy at Para Athletics Championships 2018


Silver for Niamh McCarthy at ParaAthletics World Championships


European Championship Record and Silver for Niamh McCarthy


Niamh McCarthy to Throw in IPC European Paralympic Championships

Athlete Transfers August 2021

Athletics Ireland Approved Transfers August 2021


Transfer Window Closed

The Summer Transfer Window closed on Tuesday August 24th.  Transfer forms may be submitted at any time, but will not be dealt with until the next Transfer Window closes, on March 24th 2022

Forty three (43) athlete transfers were approved at a Virtual meeting of the Officers of Cork Athletics County Board, on Wednesday September 1st. A small number of Inter County transfers remain pending, and there may be other incoming Inter-County transfers that Cork are not yet aware of.

In case of any issues with these transfers, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 0861713500


Approved Transfers


ForenameSurnameOutgoing ClubIncoming Club
Cael Cogan Togher AC Ballincollig AC
Kate Arrigan Leevale AC Ballincollig AC
Ruairi O'Mahony St Finbarr's AC Ballincollig AC
Tamela Maciel St Finbarr's AC Beara AC
Lola O'Sullivan Togher AC Belgooly AC
Jake Aherne Old Abbey AC Belgooly AC
Jean Aherne Old Abbey AC Belgooly AC
Jessica Aherne Old Abbey AC Belgooly AC
Tara Senior Leevale AC Belgooly AC
Saoirse Doyle Leevale AC Belgooly AC
Tadhg Crowley St Finbarr's AC Carraig na bhFear AC
Gavin Standjevic Tracton AC Carrigaline AC
Frank O'Brien Midleton AC East Cork AC
James Kiely Riverstick / Kinsale AC Leevale AC
Ava Hanley Belgooly AC Leevale AC
Liam Murphy Mallow AC Mt Hillary AC
Cayden Booth Bandon AC Riverstick / Kinsale AC
David Keating Belgooly AC Riverstick / Kinsale AC
Jos Keating Belgooly AC Riverstick / Kinsale AC
Tom Keating Belgooly AC Riverstick / Kinsale AC
Andy Keating Belgooly AC Riverstick / Kinsale AC
Shane Mee Belgooly AC Riverstick / Kinsale AC
Niamh O'Brien Ballincollig AC Rosscarbery Steam Runners AC
Kenneth Kingston Bantry AC Rosscarbery Steam Runners AC
Shane Murphy Eagle AC Rosscarbery Steam Runners AC
Tara Cronin Leevale AC Togher AC
Aidan Thompson Belgooly AC Tracton AC
Charlie Thompson Belgooly AC Tracton AC
Joshua Thompson Belgooly AC Tracton AC
Ruby Thompson Belgooly AC Tracton AC
Jack Cody Belgooly AC Tracton AC
Rian Cody Belgooly AC Tracton AC
Louise Curtin Doneraile AC Buttevant R.R

Approved Inter-County Transfers

There were ten (10) inter-county transfers, with four coming into Cork, and six going out.

ForenameSurnameOutgoing ClubIncoming Club
Karen George Grange/Fermoy AC Dundrum AC
Mollie Buckley Liscarroll AC West Limerick AC
Jen Preston East Cork AC Liffey Valley AC
Cliodhna McGowan Civil Service AC Cork Track Club AC
Andrew Scanlon Waterford AC Leevale AC
David Scanlon Waterford AC Leevale AC
Brian Scanlon Waterford AC Leevale AC
Luke Merrigan Kenmare AC Leevale AC
Jessica Merrigan Kenmare AC Leevale AC
Sheldon Nyoni West Muskerry AC Letterkenny AC


There may be other Inter-County transfers being processed by other Counties that have not yet been presented to Cork Athletics.

63 Min Half-Marathon for Ryan Creech - August 2021

Ryan Creech Runs 63:26 for 6th Place in Antrim Coast Half-Marathon

Larne, Antrim

Sunday August 29th 2021


ryan creech 2019 12 11 spo 55562236 I1

Ryan Creech, Leevale AC ran a fabulous 63:26 in yesterday's Antrim Coast Half-Marathon, in Larne, Co. Antrim, coming 6th overall in the presitigious World Athletics Gold Label Elite Race. Subject to confirmation, this makes Ryan the second fastest Cork Half-Marathoner to date, behind Mark Carroll, with 63:11, in New York in October 2002, though Mark also has a 62:36, from the Great North Run, in September 2005, but that course doesn't count for World Bests, as it was a point-to-point race, and with an overall fall exceeding permissable limits.

On Saturday, Ryan posted this on his social media account: "It's been 6 years, 5 soul sucking heart breaking surgeries later, and finally have the green back. I wouldn't of got back here if it wasn't for the constant emotional & financial support of Chloé, family, friends and the wizard Donie. Let's hope the legs wake up for tomorrow"  Yes...your legs woke up in a big way Ryan.


Ryan's splits look to be pretty consistent, around 15 mins per 5km


ryan creech splits antrim coast half marathon 2021


Results of Elite Race


The race was won by Jemel Yimer, Ethiopia, in just over the hour, in 1:00:30.  Compatriot Yalemzerf Yehualaw, in 9th place, set a new World Best of 63:44, becoming the first woman to run a Half-Marathon under 64 minutes

antrim coast half marathon 2021 1st 10 results



Ryan Creech - World Athletics Profile


yalemzerf yehualaw antrim coast half marathon 2021

Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Ethiopia, setting a Word Best for the Half-Marathon


antrim coast half marathon winner 2021

Presentation to Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Ethiopia 


fergus meade antrim coast half marathon photo bill guiller

Fergus Meade, East Cork AC, Leads the Pack

The Mass Race Reults appear to be searchable only by athlete name, so hard to figure out who ran if you don't know who ran <grin/sigh>. However..... Fergus Meade, East Cork AC, was spotted in one of the photos, leading one of the pack.  Fergus ran 01:17:14, with a half-way split of 37:15

Shane Howard Jumps for 4th Place on Irish All-Time Listings

Shane Howard Jumps 7.71m in Switxerland for Cork Record

La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland

Saturday August 14th 2021



shane howard bandon ac

Shane Howard, Bandon AC

Shane Howard, Bandon AC, jumped 7.71m for third place at Saturday's Resisprint International Meet, in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. Shane's third round jump elevates him to fourth place in the Irish All-Time Long Jump standings, and also is a new Cork Record


Long Jump Results


shane howard resisprint 2021 Long Jump Results - Resisprint 2021


all time irish long jump standings august 15 2021

Irish All-Time Long Jump Standings August 14th 2021

Irish Team Sought for Antrim Coast Half-Marathon

Athletics Ireland Seeks Team Members for Antrim Coast Half Marathon

Antrim Coast Half Marathon

Larne, Antrim

9am Sunday August 29th 2021


antrim coast half marathon 2021


Athletics Ireland is to select a team to compete against Athletics Northern Ireland and England athletics teams at the Antrim Coast Half-Marathon at the end of this month

Entries for the event have closed, so team members will be selected from those who have already entered the race

Any athlete interested in competing on the Irish team should email the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Monday August 16th, including details their personal bests, along with details of recent performances

Echo Mini-Marathon News - August 11th 2021

News - Echo Mini-Marathon 2021

Virtual Mini-Marathon goes ahead, but 'In Person' Event Cancelled

Sunday September 19th 2021


echo mini marathon banner 2021


Statement from Cork Athletics County Board, organisers of the Cork Womens Mini-Marathon


Cancellation of Cork Women's Mini-Marathon Live Event 2021

It is with great regret that we are unable to hold the 'In Person' Cork Women's Mini-Marathon again this year - the second consecutive year that this has happened. …But we are going ahead with The Echo Virtual Women’s Mini-Marathon

We have a duty of care to you, the participants, and to our volunteers, suppliers, supporters and sponsors, and also to the communities along the event route, and in the general vicinity

At this point in time, Government, HSE and Sport Ireland guidelines limit road race numbers to a maximum of 200, including all volunteers, support personnel and medical services.  In normal times, our race personnel numbers alone would exceed this limit

We have carried out vigorous evaluations, but there are still too many unknowns for us to be confident that we can provide a safe event, given the huge scale of the mini-marathon, with 7,000 participants, along with thousands more spectators and volunteers

We realise that this is incredibly disappointing news, especially as the vast majority of participants fundraise for their own chosen charity. Each year, Mini-Marathon participants raise an estimated €1.5M to €2M for these charities, so we are going ahead with The Echo Virtual Women’s Mini-Marathon, with the primary purpose of creating a focus around which people, far and wide, can still raise badly needed sponsorship for their own chosen charity


cork athletics echo virtual mini marathon medal 2021a2021 Virtual Womens Mini-Marathon Medal


Register for Echo Virtual Women's Mini-Marathon 2021



Live 'In Person' Event 2021 is Cancelled

 IMG 7354 minStart of Cork Women's Mini-Marathon 2015

Sadly, we won't see the scene above this year, but we hope to see you all on the Marina again next year, 2022

Register for The Echo Virtual Womens Mini-Marathon 2021

This year's Mini-Marathon will again be a virtual event!  Event organisers, Cork Athletics County Board, are committed to ensuring that Cork's women, who walk and and run the event every year, and, in doing so, raise over €1M for their chosen charities, will not miss out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, again, the focus will be on facilitating participants fund raise for charity, at a time when charities have been badly hit by cancelled collections and flag days, along with closure of their charity shops, and many other fundraising activities



The Flagship Sponsor for the past 39 years has been The Echo


Echo live logo

Echo Mini-Marathon Page

Register for Echo Virtual Women's Mini-Marathon 2021


This year we are celebrating the 40th Echo Women’s Mini-Marathon. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the event will be a virtual one again this year, and we are hoping that as many people as possible will take part to help support the many Cork charities who rely on the event’s participants to raise much-needed funds every year.


About the Event

The event is 6km and you can complete that however you want either by walking, running or jogging anywhere you like ...even in your back garden!

The live race cannot go ahead again this year, but we encourage you to join us virtually in the spirit of the event on what would have been race day on September 19th, and complete your 6k, (Please adhere to all Government guidelines regarding public safety and social distancing that are in place at the time that you are doing your 6K).

The results portal will be open from September 16th, but if you can’t complete your 6K on September 19th, you can also do it anytime between September 16th and September 26th, then upload your results to download your certificate of completion


The Charities are massive beneficiaries from the funds you all raise each year, but as you will be aware, they have have been hit very badly during Covid, with flag-days and fundraisers of all sorts being cancelled. Cork Athletics urges all participants to 'row in' behind their own chosen charity when doing the Echo Cork Women's Mini-Marathon.

Charity Fundraising

To fundraise for your own chosen charity, please Register for the Echo Cork Women's Mini-Marathon, then contact your selected Charity directly, for their fund-raising pack

You can also donate, during the Registration process, to a number of charities, or cheate your own fund-raising page via iDonate, during Registration (Note: These funds are collected directly via iDonate)

Charity Listings

Any Charity that would like to be added to the listings should This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., with their Charity details and Contacts


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Donie Walsh - 1971 European Championships 10,000m Recalled - Guest Article by John Walshe

John Walshe recalls Donie Walsh's Run in the 1971 European Championships 10,000m

This article, by John Walshe, appeared on EchoLive! website, on Tuesday August 10th 2021


donie walsh echo tues aug 10th 2021Donie Walsh in action at the 1971 European Championships in Helsinki


Cork Athletics Facebook Page


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Comprehensive Calendar of Registered Athletics Ireland events in Cork

Leevale’s Walsh recalls the part he played in one of the very best races of all time

This article, by John Walshe, appeared on EchoLive! website, on Tuesday August 10th 2021


Regarded as ‘the best race I’ve ever seen in my life’ by former BBC commentator and Olympic medallist Brendan Foster, the 10,000m at the European Championships of 1971 was truly an epic affair

Held exactly 50 years ago – on Tuesday August 10 – it was the final event on the opening day of the 10th European Games held before a crowd of 70,000 in Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium

It gave the partisan Finnish crowd, starved of distance success for so long, a night to remember as Juha Vaatainen ran an incredible last lap to win in a championship and Finnish record of 27:52.78

The race also provided Corkman Donie Walsh with an Irish best for the distance which, somewhat surprisingly for a man who won a total of 16 national titles on track, road and country, was his sole national record

The odds-on favourite leading up to Helsinki was the six-foot tall British runner Dave Bedford, his distinctive long hair and drooping moustache matched by the famous red socks he always wore

The previous month, on a sun-scorched afternoon at Portsmouth and despite badly blistered feet, he had established a European record of 27:47.0 for 10,000m, the second fastest ever recorded over the distance

Bedford knew only one way to run, and that was from the front. At 5000m, reached in 13:54.4, he tried to drop his pursuers but to no avail. With a lap to go a group of five were still together and with 300m left Vaatainen and Jurgen Haase of East Germany kicked past Bedford and the home fans went wild

The Finn covered the final lap in 53.9 (with the final 200m in 26 seconds) to cross the line in a time of 27:52.78

Hasse was second in 27:53.35, Rashid Sharafetdinov of the Soviet Union third in 27:56.26 as the first five set national records. Bedford had to settle for sixth in 28:04.33. As Vaatainen was swept off his feet by the ecstatic Finnish fans, Leevale’s Donie Walsh was heading out on his final circuit enroute to an Irish record of 28:52.60

In the lead up to the Europeans, the Corkman was in fine form. He won the national 10,000m in 29:34.2, turning a last lap deficit of 15 yards into a winning margin of 20 yards over Fr Paddy Coyle

He finished first over 5000m in an international match in Spain, along with victories over the same distance at the Cork City Sports and Clonliffe International (PB of 14:02.6)

A half-century on from that unforgettable night, Walsh – now a highly successful coach at his beloved Leevale – looks back with fond memories. “The atmosphere there was incredible; the only other place I could compare would be Eugene in Oregon where I ran the NCAA championships

“I was happy with my run; it was good to run the European Championships to give you the experience more than anything else. It was an Irish record which was broken by Neil Cusack the following year.”

Two days later, Walsh was back on the track for the heats of the 5000m where he again was up against Vaatainen

Donie led through 800m in 2:24 before eventually finishing 11th in 14:12.6

The Finnish runner would go on to make it double gold when winning the final in another championship and national record of 13:32.48

In between the 10,000m final and 5000m heats, the Corkman also helped the disappointed Bedford to drown his sorrows, as he recalls: “After the 10,000m myself and Bedford went off out for a few scoops. Bedford was a real athletes athlete, the same as Steve Prefontaine was an athletes athlete

“They went out and they ran, and if you were better than them you beat them on the day

"They only knew one way to run, go out and run everyone into the ground. If you were able to stay then you could stay and if you can’t you can’t.” Walsh was 21st of the 33 finishers that night in Helsinki and four places ahead of him was another Finnish athlete, Lasse Viren

Twelve months later Viren would carve his own place in athletics history when emulating his countryman by winning the 5000m and 10,000m at the Munich Olympics

It’s also worth noting the man who finished 33rd and last that night

A 24-year-old Portuguese named Carlos Lopes could only manage a time of 30:05.64 – 13 years later he would take marathon gold on that memorable night at the Los Angeles Olympics ahead of John Treacy

Proving that in sport, on occasion, the Biblical phase of ‘the last will be first’ can certainly ring true

Additional Info from Cork Athletics


european 10000m championships 1971a

Dave Bedford leads the large field in the early stages. Fromm (208) and Tuominen
follow, with Gaston Roelants (30) and Mariano Haro (590) on the outside

Results of European Championships 10,000m 1971

1 Juha Vaatainen Finland 27:52.78 CR NR
2 Jurgen Haase East Germany 27:53.35 NR
3 Rashid Sharafetdinov Soviet Union 27:56.26 NR
4 Danijel Korica Yugoslavia 27:58.38 NR
5 Mariano Haro Spain 27:58.33 NR
6 Dave Bedford Great Britain 28:04.33  
7 Mike Tagg Great Britain 28:14.65  
8 Seppo Tuominen Finland 28:17.88  
9 Manfred Letzerich West Germany 28:20.81 NR
10 Noel Tnou France 28:21.65  
11 Werner Dossegger Switzerland 28:22.88 NR
12 Lucien Rault France 28:23.11  
13 Jack Lane Great Britain 28:24.01  
14 Arne Risa Norway 28:24.41 NR
15 Joachim Krebs East Germany 28:26.67  
16 Karel Lismont Belgium 28:31.17  
17 Lasse Viren Finland 28:33.12  
18 Nikolay Sviridov Soviet Union 28:41.08  
19 Josef Jansky Czechoslovakia 28:43.08 NR
20 Rene Jourdan France 28:46.08  
21 Donald Walsh Ireland 28:52.60 NR
22 Edward Mleczko Poland 28:55.73  
23 Henryk Piotrowski Poland 28:01.68  
24 Eckhard Lesse East Germany 28:02.53  
25 Janos Szerenyi Hungary 28:03.83  
26 Lajos Mecser Hungary 28:07.48  
27 Giuseppe Cindolo Italy 28:13.65  
28 Jens Wollenberg West Germany 28:25.41  
29 Per Halle Norway 28:32.25  
30 Josef Wirth Switzerland 28:33.71  
31 Egbert Nijstadt Netherlands 28:48.08  
32 Deter Brand West Germany 28:58.28  
33 Carlos Lopes Portugal 30:05.64  
  Gaston Roelants Belgium DNF  
  Nedo Farcic Yugoslavia DNF  


Video of Men's 10,000m



Other Guest Articles by John Walshe

Willie O'Mahony has clocked the miles building East Cork Athletics - Guest Article by John Walshe


Memorable Youghal Road Race Took Place at Midnight on New Year's Eve - Guest Article by John Walshe


Midleton AC Virtual Club Challenge - Guest Article by John Walshe


Cork Cross-Country of 1980 - Guest Article by John Walshe


Cork Marathon Magic in 1986 as Marion Lyons Wins - Guest Article by John Walshe

The 1985 Cork 800 Marathon - Guest Article by John Walshe

Tullamore Man Won First Cork Marathon - Guest Article by John Walshe

Pioneering Women of Cross-Country - Guest Article by John Walshe


Grange International Cross-Country of 1980 Recalled 40 Years On - Guest Article by John Walshe


Youghal AC's London Emer Casey 10k Exploits


30 Years Ago - Liam O'Brien Wins Cork County Senior Cross-Country Championship


50 Years Ago - When John Buckley Beat The Olympic Champion


40 Years Ago - Jerry Murphy Wins Munster Marathon Championship


Aoife Cooke Runs 55:17 in Mallow 10 2019


Munster Cross-Country of 1989


Steeplechase Legends Meet at Antrim International


Aidan Hogan - Ultra-Athlete




Cork to Cobh 40 Years Ago


Unique National Double for McGraths


Dick Hooper Speaks at St Finbarrs AC Function



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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