Archive for April, 2020

No. 23: 60 Seconds with Harrier Johnny O’Leary

This next Harrier is a Clonliffe legend. A Harrier for 64 years, indeed he ran in the very first opening run in Santry, after Clonliffe moved to Santry from Barn Park, Finglas, in October 1956 who has served as athlete, club secretary (1989, 1993, 1994) committee member, vice captain, club Trustee (aside from all those good things he, along with Noreen, was responsible for bringing a 20 year old Noel Guiden to Clonliffe in 1983) Johnny O’Leary.

Bio: I’ve been a member of the club for 64 years and held several positions over the years, such as Secretary, Vice Captain & Assistant Treasurer. I met my late wife Noreen after the all Ireland senior cross country club championships in Belfast in 1964. I worked in Technicon in Swords for 25 years from 1967 to 1992 and later went on to work at the Dept. Of Agriculture from 1992 to 2006.

What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? I was 15 years old when I took up athletics. I took up the sport because I wasn’t very good at football !! So I decided to try something new.When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? October 1956. I was working with a guy who was in Clonliffe – Joe Dempsey – and he brought me to see the Clonliffe 2 mile race in Finglas. It was run from the Old Finglas Road to Glasnevin. I was instantly hooked and joined the club the following Tuesday!

Johnny & Co., 6/10/56 1st ever Clonliffe XC Opening Run in Santry Woods

What is your favourite training workout? The Clonliffe top 5 and the long runs from Morton Stadium out to Howth on Tuesdays and Thursday nights

And your least favourite? Pass!

What’s your favourite race/athletics meet? The Morton Games

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? As athlete and or coach?

  1. I was on the Clonliffe senior cross country team in 1964 at Dundonald, Belfast.
  2. I represented Ireland at race walking at several international events during the 1970s.
  3. I represented Clonliffe on ‘Match Play Quiz’ on RTE Radio 1 in the early 1980s alongside Maurice Ahern & Tom Boshell (now residing in the USA). The show was presented by Jimmy Magee and I have the recordings to prove it !!
  4. I ran 8 Dublin City Marathons and my best time was 2hrs 50mins.
  5. My son Bobby (a past Harrier) competed at the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992.

What was your worst injury and how did you get over it ? I had a terrible knee injury after a motor bike accident in 1964. I was out of action for a very long time. It took 6 months to recover.

What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete ? Hard work is the only way. You have to put the time in.

Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? After the Olympics in 1992, Tommy Griffin and I went to an awards ceremony for Paddy Marley in Donegal and after having a few drinks, myself and Tommy couldn’t remember where we were staying so we had to sleep in the car!

What’s your favourite meal? for competition and out of competition?
It’s hard to beat a good steak. Perfect post competition meal and best non competition meal too !!

Who is your sporting hero. Athletics or other? A. Irish Danny McDaid
B. International Herb Elliott

What’s your favourite..?
A. Film. The Field
B. Song or album. The streets of New York by The Wolfe Tones
C. Book. None in particular

What’s your favourite holiday destination? Grand Canaria

What’s your favourite hobby, activity outside athletics? I love watching the Dubs (football)! I’ve been a big Dubs supporter all my life! I also love going to Old Trafford to see Manchester Utd

If your were Seb Coe what changes would you implement to improve the sport? Sort out the drug abuse

How would your non athletic friends describe you? Oh I think they’d say I’m a friendly sort of person 

How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? Regular walking. I get out for a walk every day.

Johnny with Club captain Joe Cooper at European clubs T & F Leiria, Portugal May 2017
Noel Guiden, Noreen & Johnny circa 1983
Johnny, judging by the hair it’s gotta be mid 1970’s

Schools Track & Field Season Cancelled

Club athletes please note that, not unexpectedly, ISAA have today announced the cancellation of the 2020 School’s Track & Field season due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. See statement:

Irish Schools Athletic Association have been in extensive discussions with colleagues at the other SIAB Countries Schools Associations following the cancellation of last months’ SIAB Cross Country. It is our sad duty to report that the SIAB Track & Field which was due to be hosted by English Schools at Derby on July 18th has also fallen victim to the current restrictions, and has joined the list of cancelled events.

Further to this, it is likely that the hosting of these events will now roll over into 2021 – with next year’s SIAB Cross Country to be held at Falkirk, and the SIAB Track & Field at Derby. The ISAA Executive are now in a position to confirm the cancellation of all scheduled Track & Field Events at zone/district, provincial including the distinguished Irish Life Health ALL Ireland Schools Track & Field Championships fixed for Saturday, 30th May 2020 in Tullamore Harriers.

These decisions have not been taken lightly but reflect the concerns of all at ISAA and Athletics Ireland around the health and safety of pupils, teachers, parents and Officials. Everyone associated with Irish Schools Athletics in Ireland are asked to continue to follow the restrictions in place around travel and social contact for as long as it takes. PLEASE STAY SAFE!!

– On Behalf of the President of the Irish Schools Athletic Association, Mr. Billy Delaney

No.22: 60 Seconds with Harrier Ciara McCallion

400 specialist, medallist at Nationals, Irish International and one of the sports top physios, Ciara McCallion.

Bio: I’m a physiotherapist who has always loved athletics. I have been lucky enough to represent Ireland and Clonliffe Harriers as part of the Irish women’s 4x400m relay team. Although not competing at that level now, I can’t seem to stop running around the track (or on the road since the lockdown).

What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? I competed in athletics at the Community Games when I was 8 years old and then joined the local athletics club. When I was older I transferred to Clonliffe Harriers. I feel like I’ve never not done athletics!

When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? I joined Clonliffe Harriers when I was in my early teens (a while ago now!). I joined to train with John Shields and his group. At the time my main even was 100m hurdles believe it or not, and John had a group of girls my age who I could train with. I loved it.

What is your favourite training workout? This might sound crazy, but my favourite workout is probably split 400s (300m, 60 sec rest, 100m) just before or during outdoor season when you know you’re in good shape. It’s nice to run fast relaxed. I don’t know if I would enjoy trying to do that right now, but right before competition it was a great confidence boosting workout.

And your least favourite? I love all running and training, but at the moment my least favourite session would be Fartlek because my fitness isn’t what it used to be!

What’s your favourite race / athletics meet? Irish national outdoor championships in Morton Stadium. Nationals is the pinacle of the domestic track and field calendar for amateur athletes and I almost always ran a PB at Nationals so I am a little biased by these good memories.

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) Running the anchor leg of the 4x400m at the European Championships in Amsterdam in 2016. It was amazing to run in the Olympic Stadium at an event (Europeans) that years earlier I had been a spectator at with a group of Clonliffe athletes.

Ciara at European Championships, Amsterdam 2016

What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? Achilles tendinopathy – although I always had a mild tendinopathy it recurred a few times in the last years of my competitive athletics, and even a mild tendinopathy can keep you out for 2 or 3 months. I did a lot of heavily weighted rehab, changed my training load (I had to reduce what I was doing as I work full time on my feet) and did a lot of my training in racing flats with a customised spike plate rather than sprint spikes.

(For a coach or seasoned athlete) What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? 1. Enjoy your athletics, try new things and ask questions. 2. Try to get your information about training, nutrition, injuries etc from reputable sources – be careful what advice you listen to on social media. 3. If you have big dreams don’t be afraid to make them goals and really go for them.

What’s your favourite meal? A. For competition – chicken and pasta pre competition (plain and simple) B. Outside competition – chocolate cake (is cake a meal?)

Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other) A. Irish Sonia O’Sullivan B. International Allyson Felix

What’s your favourite holiday destination? South Africa

What is your next running / athletics goal? (whenever normality returns!) For once, I don’t have any performance goals for athletics. I’m just enjoying training so my goals are to continue to enjoy training and to stay injury free.

How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? I have trained more consistently since the lockdown started than anytime in the last year. My job as a sports physio involves a lot of travel and very long days so my training time has been very limited. Now that I am working from home my motivation to train is very high as I have the time for it (I’m working reduced hours), and I need a break from sitting at my laptop. The nice weather we have had recently definitely helps motivate me to get out for a run!

No. 21: 60 Seconds with Harrier Peter McDermott

Now wise words from one of the country’s top coaches and the star of “Coaching Corner” Peter McDermott.

Bio: I’m a retired schoolteacher. I served two life sentences teaching English and Maths. to the sound lads in St.Aidan’s Running Academy.

When did you take up the sport of athletics? I didn’t start running until I came to UCD in 1968. I ran for the College for four years and then joined Clonliffe.

Why Clonliffe? A friend of mine in UCD, Maurice Ahern of Donore ,
wanted me to join his club but I always knew that I would join the Black and Amber. Perhaps it was the stadium and the famous track where Elliott had set his mile record or, perhaps, it was the magic of Billy Morton ; but for whatever reason , to me Santry was the Mecca of athletics. I competed for Clonliffe for fifteen years and then turned to coaching . I got the imprimatur of Laro Byrne- he even gave me his stopwatches! I have a Level 3 Coaching Qualification but I learned most of my athletics knowledge in the University of Clonliffe. 

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics (athlete/coach)? As an athlete I was just a half decent club runner, so I don’t have very many memorable performances to recount . I did turn in a few decent ones : I still remember the sense of satisfaction I felt at making the Scoring 4 on the Clonliffe team that won the National Senior Cross-Country title in 1981. Dick Hooper once wrote in the Irish Runner that you wouldn’t be served a pint in the Clonliffe Bar if you didn’t have at least one National Senior Gold medal in your pocket – now I had my passport ! Later that year I was pleased  to run 1 hour 45 minutes for the Clonliffe 20. Not  a bad time but good enough only for 9th. It was won in 1:38 ! An interesting footnote to that race was the fact that Jerry Kiernan finished 5th. It was his first time to race longer than 10 miles yet, just three years later, he finished 9th. In the Olympic Marathon ! Finally, I was 2nd to Ronnie Carroll in the Dublin 10 mile Championship in 1984 , just a shade outside 50 minutes. I was pleased with my performance but ragin’ that I didn’t break 50. And,  sadly , I never did . Consequently, the Great Hairy One still tells me my PB is ”very shabby”.

Favourite training workout? My favourite training session was a 10 mile tempo. I liked to do this with Denis Noonan and Rashers Tierney, tough guys who took no prisoners. We often did these runs in slightly under 53 minutes, which was probably too fast but you can’t put an old head on young shoulders. I didn’t like short intervals on the track as my basic speed was very limited. But you got to do the workouts that you don’t like , especially if you and your coach know they are necessary for you to improve. I don’t have a favourite workout for the athletes I coach : I prescribe the sessions which I believe are most appropriate to the race distance they’re training for and, of course, the time of the season in which they’re training.

Early coaching days with St. Aidans CBS, All Ireland Schools, Tullamore

Any cherished days as a coach? I have far more exciting memories as a coach than I have as an athlete and this is entirely due to the marvellous young men that I have advised over more than three decades. My early successes were with St. Aidan’s, winning several individual and team All Ireland Schools’ titles . I also got great satisfaction in helping many lads get athletic scholarships to the USA. There are conflicting views on the merits of these scholarships and, indeed, I would be the first to admit that they are not suitable for every young athlete. There can be “ a survival of the fittest “ element about the programmes in some colleges .But, in the Ireland of the 70s and 80s, when jobs were scarce and it was difficult to get into college, those American scholarships were a godsend. Some say “ Oh , we never heard of those guys again “. But we should remember that they couldn’t all be a Coghlan, a Treacy , an O’Mara or an O’Sullivan . They got worthwhile degrees, good jobs , got married and raised families. Their scholarships opened doors for them which otherwise would have remained forever closed . The majority of my great coaching memories are, naturally, connected to Niall Bruton. Seeing him win the 800/1500 Senior double at the All Ireland Schools C’ships. in ‘89, his victory in the World Student Games in ‘91, watching him outkick World Indoor Champion  Frank O’Mara (despite giving O’Mara a 10m. lead with 200m to go) , to win his first Irish Senior title in Belfield in ‘93, being present in Gothenburg in ‘95 when he qualified for the 1500 final of the  World C’ships, being trackside in Madison Square Gardens NY when he won his second Wanamaker mile title and …..well, so many more . I got a big thrill from Colm Rooney’s victory in the National Senior 1500 in 2008. It was a slow, tactical race , which played into Colm’s hands and he just blew the field away over the final 200. You’d have to be mighty quick to out kick Colm back then – indeed you still need to be pretty fast to beat Papa Rooney ( as Karl Nolan calls him ). I also got great satisfaction from Jayme Rossiter’s win in the National Intermediate XC in 2012. The course was a mud bath and, as we all know, Jayme loves the mud! Derek Waters (St. Aidan’s and Clonliffe) won several All Ireland schools and under age titles but his victory, by a huge margin, in the National Junior XC in ‘93 was the one that shines brightest in my memory. It was always a pleasure to work with Killian Lonergan. A young man of immense talent he was , sadly , predisposed to chronic injuries. He was such a smooth runner you would think he could never get injured, as Laro Byrne once said “ When I look at young Lonergan I know how God intended people to run “. With just six months of uninterrupted training he ran that excellent 28:37. Undoubtably, Killian could have been an Olympian if he hadn’t been plagued by injury. He continues to make a huge contribution to the Club and is unremittingly helpful to other athletes. There are so many other great memories: Mark Kenneally’s first National Senior XC win , Mark making the final of the European U/23 5000m C’ 2003, Sergiu Ciobanu winning the National Novice XC just a few months after coming to Ireland and joining our training group, Cathal Doyle taking chunks off his PB and eventually running 3:42 last year and qualifying for the European U/23 C’ships., Seán O’’Leary winning the National Intermediate XC last year and making it look as if he was out for an afternoon stroll. I have fond memories too of Gareth Williams winning an All Ireland Schools Senior Steeplechase title ( despite the fact that neither Gareth nor I knew a whole lot about the steeple ) , of Michael MacDiarmada coming all the way through our Juvenile and Youth ranks to eventually finishing 7th. in the National Senior XC ( you can now get a pint too, Michael, in the Clonliffe Bar) and running 2:25 for the marathon the very first time he attempted the event. And of Shane Dowler , winning an All Ireland Schools’ XC title and a National Junior track title before getting an American athletic scholarship. A very shy as a  young man , Shane now owns his own restaurant in Johnson City , Tennessee and is married with two children. His  oldest , a boy , is a seriously talented young footballer ( soccer ,of course). A successful product of the the athletic scholarship system.  …….and many, many more . I had the huge honour of being appointed coach to the Irish International Cross Country team for 5 years from ‘98 to 2002 (inc.) I had the massive thrill of being present in Marrakech in ‘98  to witness Sonia’s extraordinary double success in the World Cross ( Short and Long Course ) . It was also a privilege to be the coach to the Irish men’s team that won Bronze in the European Senior XC in Malmo in 2000. Peter Matthews,  Seamus Power, Keith Kelly , Gareth Turnbull, Ken Nason and Fiachra Lombard: what a team ! And what a great bunch of lads. I am very lucky to have a treasury of great memories from that phase of my coaching career.I would like to thank all the people who have helped me with my coaching: Tony Murphy ( for many years ) , Brian McDonald, Gerry Cullen and, more recently , Stephen Bateson. Alan O’Neill who keeps supplying us with athletes from the St. Aidan’s conveyor belt . And , of course, Joe Cooper . Without Joe , I probably would have no athletes at all to coach as he unselfishly passes on his charges to me when they reach the age of 18 or 19. And he continues to do this , year after year.

Any funny stories you’d like to share? We didn’t win the National Senior for a few years back in the 90s. But we won the National Vets.’ XC and National Vets Road Relay during one of those lean years  On hearing this Barry Ryan remarked , with an utterly deadpan expression, “ Nice to see our Youth Policy is paying off at last.”     

Favourie athletics meet/race? My favourite Athletics Meet is, of course, the Morton Games. I have a love/ hate relationship with the National Senior XC. I love it when we win the team title but it’s nerve wracking during the race if the outcome is in doubt . I’m very fond of the National Road Relays as the atmosphere is always electric. And I have to mention the Armagh International Road Races. What a night ! What a feast of top class running! It has been described as “a microcosm of the World Cross”. High praise indeed.

What advise would you give to a young athlete? As regards advice for young athletes (how about “Go away and find an easier sport “ ? ) Ah no ; must not be cynical. 1. Be consistent in your training: consistency is the key. 2. Be patient: it takes time become a real runner.   ( Read Ron Hill’s autobiography The Long Hard Road ). 3. Be realistic in your targets. 4. Be specific in your training. No point in training like a marathon runner if the 800 is your main event. 5. Try to enjoy the PROCESS and don’t think too far ahead to the desired outcome. 6.Don’t get discouraged by the odd bad performance: everyone has had bad days at the office.    

What was your worst injury? As regards injuries, I had trouble for a number of years with a torn abdominal muscle. Let it go too long without seeking professional help. But that was the culture of the time : you just got on with it . But it was a foolish , macho type of mistake. The athletes of that era were tough : Clonliffe greats like Danny McDaid, Pádraig Keane and Paddy Marley worked on the buildings for many years but still clocked 100 miles per week without injury. Perhaps the lifestyle when they were growing up was a factor: people walked or cycled everywhere. They did hard physical work on farms and building sites. A “ Kenyan “ lifestyle in a way . Now, because of our easier lifestyles , there is a greater need for strength and conditioning work .  

Favourites? My favourite book ? Never ask a former English teacher that question or he/she will go on and on forever ! So, here goes : I never tired of teaching such classic novels as To Kill a Mocking Bird , Wuthering Heights, Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm , The Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice and Men , Hard Times, etc.,etc. Of the more modern novels,  I would heartily recommend the Wolf Hall Trilogy by Hilary Mantel and , one of the greatest books I have ever read , The Choice by Edith Eger( a survivor of Auschwitz). Some of the best Irish novels would be That They May Face the Rising Sun by the inimitable John McGahern , A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry and Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. Favourite Film : Again , I’m a bit of a film buff ( or as JK would say “a cinephile”) so it’s difficult to just pick one or two. My short list would include The Godfather ( Part 2) , Cinema Paradiso, The Deer Hunter, Manon de Sources, The Remains of the Day, Scent of a Woman , Thirteen Days, Mystic River , Midnight Express, The Lives of Others etc., etc. ( OK , I’ll shut up now ).  And my favourite song( here we go again ): The River -Bruce Springsteen; Dance Me to the End of Love- Leonard Cohen; The Parting Glass – Various Artistes; Thunder on the Mountain -Bob Dylan;  Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien – Edith Piaf; My Way – Frank Sinatra ; I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty; America – Simon and Garfunkel, etc., etc. Favourite Album : Modern Times – Dylan ; Born in the USA – Springsteen; Graceland – Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo;  Revolver – The Beatles ; Rumours – Fleetwood Mac ,etc., etc.(  Wouldn’t you know I’m an auld fella from that list ? )

Sporting Heroes: Irish : Eamonn Coghlan and Roy Keane . International: Jim Ryun ( possibly the greatest Miler / 1500m runner of all time – and the unluckiest) . Laura Muir: I have huge admiration for her sheer guts and bravery . 

Favourite Meal : When dining with the GOATS , we are all under direct orders from the GHO that we can sample only Italian cuisine. So, my favourite is Pollo Al Vino Bianco Con Funghi . Sounds great in Italian, doesn’t it ? It’s just chicken and mushrooms in a white wine sauce. Of course, as an unreformed country man I’d be quite happy with bacon, cabbage and spuds.

Favourite holiday destination: Rome or New York or San Diego ( in normal times , obviously).

Favourite Hobby : reading, going to the cinema, watching box sets and Netflix, watching athletics, football and most sports on television, walking/ jogging- and more reading.

What advice to Seb Coe : 1. Many years ago the late , great P.Keane proposed that cross country should be reinstated in the Olympics . Nobody took him seriously. But when Seb Coe proposed the same thing a few years ago , everyone said “ What an excellent idea, Lord Coe “. So, I would now say to The Right Honourable Gentleman in terminology which he , as a former Tory MP would understand , “ Just get it done”.          2. He should make it more difficult for non-nationals to run for their so-called adoptive country . It is ridiculous to see so many East Africans ( in particular) running for European countries despite they not having spent a wet week in Europe . I think it should be like in rugby where a player had to have lived at least 36 months in a country before being eligible to represent that country. I believe it has now been extended to 60 months. 3. Athletes who test positive for banned substances should be banned for life . Many of those athletes come back after as little as two years and are eligible to compete again as “ clean “ athletes. The reality is they are still in possession of residual benefits from their drug taking – both physical and psychological. 4. Curtail the use of pacemakers in the Diamond League . I am tired of watching these choreographed time trials instead of real races . While many elite athletes are capable of running very fast indeed, they never learn how to truly race – and it shows in championships.

Just because it’s you Peter do you have one more “spill the beans” story ? Jerry Kiernan trying in vain to get Joe to pronounce correctly the word “ bruschetta “. But what happens at the GOATS must stay in the GOATS . Joe selling me a dummy ( of which Joe Brolly would be proud ) in San Sebastián at a European Clubs 20 years ago. Joe goes off with the travelling support corps for pints and crack while I’m left to go to a boring Blazers’ Banquet . But what happens on tour …….If you want fun, just go upstairs to the Clonliffe Bar any Thursday night after training and witness Joe and Fogo conduct a master class in BS with their two acolytes Hoss and The Big Red .

How would my friends describe me ? Grumpy old man .( after this probably : Boring, Long-winded)

How to stay motivated during this crises. Keep reminding ourselves that “ this too will pass”. Motivation has to come from within- and real runners never really lose the fire. As I often say “ When you have been bitten by the running bug , you’re a runner for life “. But I do keep in touch with my athletes via WhatsApp and advise them what to do .

Next Athletic Goal : to help Clonliffe retain the National XC title by managing the athletes I coach to attain peak fitness at the right time.

Coach & Athlete: Peter with Karl Nolan, Jingle Bells Phoenix Park

DCU Award for Cathal Doyle

Cathal Doyle was yesterday honoured by DCU Athletics as he was awarded the Performance Award for 2019/20.

No. 20: 60 Seconds with Harrier Maurice Ahern

One of the longest serving Clonliffe Harriers, as an athlete, coach, club officer, President of Clonliffe (1992-2005) and the Lord Mayor of Dublin 2000 Maurice Ahern.

Bio: Born and reared in Drumcondra,so with Croke Park and other grounds together with Clubs and college fields available it was inevitable that sport would play a huge part in my life. My parents interest in sport especially hurling helped

What age did you take up athletics? I was always interested in running-I first ran in the primary school sports at Croke Park in 1950/51 and many more times there in  the 50’s as my 2nd level school O’Connells held their annual sports there

When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? I joined Clonliffe after the 1960 Olympics-it was time to join a club and Clonliffe was the one I knew about

What is your favourite workout? Probably my favourite session would be some form of fartleg

And your least favourite? Least favourite for sure a long run on a cold winters night

What’s your favourite race/Meet? My favourite meet-of course the Clonliffe/Morton international-I have attended most over a period of 70 years at College Park, Lansdowne Rd and at Santry. As a one off race my favourite has changed with the years-a choice of so many-Liverpool the Waterloo road race, the 1st of the 1000  runner field- Tullamore and the Quinlan Cup – then Ireland’s largest at over 400.

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) My competitive highlight was probably winning team gold in the National Marathon of 1968 a rare occassion when any body got ahead of the all conquering Donore teams Of the 1960’s—_as a coach I remember many  outstanding  performances from athletes I was assisting -perhaps none better than Tom Gregan winning the National junior 800m,1500m,and 5000m all in the one afternoon against  the best  of opposition  

What was your worst injury, and how did you get over it? A Plantar injury that remained with  me for about 5 months was by far my longest injury And was solved by a cortisone injection and thereafter  a new pair of orthotics.

What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? My advice to any young athlete is to have a  connection with  your coach whereby you communicate at least weekly and preferably more frequently to discuss aspects  of your  Training schedule-   I am sceptical of long term delivered schedules

Who is your sporting hero? My sporting hero  when a young lad was Christy Ring and  when I took athletics seriously-right out of “run to the Top” the recently deceased Peter Snell .

What’s your favourite hobbie/activity outside of athletics? My favourite sport is GAA ( of course the “Dubs”) where i have attended roughly 130 All Ireland Finals between Football and Hurling but I have an  interest in many, I have attended at football  world cup -Italy 90 -Windsor Park, Hampden Park ,Old Trafford, Tennis at Wimbledon and the Olympic Games.

No. 19: 60 Seconds with Harrier Alannah Cooley

Already a ten year Clonliffe Harriers veteran and 2019 National U/23 800 champion Alannah Cooley.

Bio: I’m a 21 year old middle-distance athlete with Clonliffe Harriers. I’m in third year in DCU studying Genetics and spend my free time running…but wouldn’t have it any other way.

What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? I took up athletics when I was in 6th class, so I would have been 11 years old. My friends from the local area convinced me to join and reluctantly I did, but I am the only one who stuck it out. I haven’t looked back since. It was one of the best things I did.

Young Alannah at Club Track & Field 2011

When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? Clonliffe Harriers is a stone throw away from my house, literally on my doorstep. My dad grew up in Santry and used to run for the club. He brought me over to Gladys on my first day, and in later years helped out with coaching alongside Noel and Mick.

What is your favourite training workout? My favourite training workout would have to be 1k reps out in the park on the path. The distance suits me personally and I always feel great after finishing the session as it can be challenging.

And your least favourite? My coach, Noel, loves 400m reps. As for myself, they wouldn’t be my favourite. Early on this season we got up to 16 x 400m which was our highest set of reps ever – it was tough going.

What’s your favourite race / athletics meet? It would have to be the Morton Games. It’s the highlight of the summer for the club and its athletes. It never disappoints.

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) Last summer I ran a PB over both 800m and 1500m and won my first national U/23 title over 800m. This was a really big deal for me as I had trained and pushed myself harder than I ever had before. The outcome was so rewarding and I felt very proud that my hard work in hand with the coaching I had received from Peter McDermott had paid off.

What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? I am very lucky in regards to injuries as I’ve only ever had very small niggles with my hip flexors and calves. Staying on top of injuries like these is down to proper recovery and regular stretching in my case.

(For a coach or seasoned athlete) What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? You are capable of pushing yourself so much further than you think, so don’t be afraid to challenge yourself both physically and mentally. Really give it a shot. You will surprise yourself when you keep consistent and hard-working, but on the days when you are due to recover, take the recovery – this is key to success.

Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? (the censorship board may review!) Our recent trip to Seville for Cross Internacional de Italica was definitely a trip I will always remember shared with my running friends and our coaches. It was so much fun. I’ve never seen anyone sing and dance to Mamma Mia like Mick Fogarty can.

What’s your favourite meal? A. For competition Chicken and pasta. B. Outside competition Pizza without a doubt.

Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other) A. Irish Ciara Mageean B. International Genevieve Gregson

What’s your favourite…? A. Film La La Land B. Song or Album ‘Don’t Start Now’ – Dua Lipa C. Book Power of Now

What’s your favourite holiday destination? The south of France – my family have a place in a small village called Vias down by the coast. It is the perfect destination to unwind and relax.

What’s your favourite hobby / activity outside athletics? I love spending time with friends by going out for dinner or out for long scenic walks to Howth or Clontarf.

If you were Seb Coe what changes would you implement to improve our sport? I would televise athletic meets more to encourage people to take up running at any age. It is one of the simplist ways for people to keep fit and healthy.

How would your non-athlete friends describe you? (in 3 words) Happy, hard-working and forgetful.

What is your next running / athletics goal? (whenever normality returns!) If we get to race track this season my personal goal is to break 2:20 for 800m.

How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? Training at times like this is difficult, especially when you’re used to training as a group and having your coach motivate you to stay focused. For me, staying in contact with Noel, my coach, and my training partner, Laura, keeps me motivated as I’m constantly updating them with how training is going. This motivates me to get up and out.

Alannah competing in the Open race at IAAF XC in Seville in Jan. 2020

No. 18: 60 Seconds with Harrier Declan Power

A master athlete and Morton Games LOC member: Declan Power.

Bio: IT worker, settled back in Dublin after some years overseas. In recent years joined Morton Games Organising Committee liasing with overseas athletes. As a Masters athlete I have won medals at regional, national and international level at distances from 5000 to half marathon, on track, road and cross country.

What age did you take up the sport and why? I joined about 10 years ago after completing a few marathons. I signed up for a promotion to run a mile, in Morton Stadium. I broke 6 minutes and was rewarded with a red, plastic bracelet!

Why did you join clonliffe? I enjoyed the novelty of running on a track, prompting me to check out the local club and learn how to train properly. Clonliffe is welcoming and has a long, rich history.

What is your favourite training workout? Long tempo… with hills as a bonus.

And your least favourite? Short lung-busting reps, 400m or less.

What’s your favourite race / athletics meet? 10,000m on the track. It’s tough, mentally challenging and there is no hiding place. Highgate 10,000m is a great event, while on the roads, my favourites are Dungarvan 10 Mile and City-Pier-City Half Marathon in the Hague, Netherlands.

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) Breaking 3 hours in the marathon – by 2 seconds! I gave up marathons after that, though have undertaken pace-making duties for elite female athletes in recent years. Most rewarding moment was a few years ago in Paris half-marathon, when finishing fast to break Top 40 in a very competitive field and high profile race, when everything just clicked on the day.

What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? Several years ago, I ruptured the plantar fascia in my foot. It was quite painful and side-lined me for a few months. It was my own fault. I got over it by resting, allowing it to heal and easing back to training. Since then I learned to regularly take a break from running, usually during Winter and focus on other areas to maintain fitness and re-charge.

(For a coach or seasoned athlete) What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? See above. From experience, I would say don’t force your training while dealing with an injury. “If it hurts, it ain’t healing”. Be patient, and don’t jump straight back into high intensity training following a significant layoff.

Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? (the censorship board may review!) On a team trip to the Euro Clubs Cross-Country a few years ago, I was surprised at the capacity of my team-mates to consume every dessert on offer at the dinner table, and repeatedly come back for more! All of them were considerably faster, stronger athletes than me, so it had me re-evaluating my approach to nutrition!

What’s your favourite meal? A. For competition Banana and water B. Outside competition Lamb Biryani

Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other) A. Irish John Treacy B. International Lasse Viren

What’s your favourite…? A. Film Baisers volés B. Song or Album Thick as a Brick (Jethro Tull) – a song that’s also an album C. Book The Secret History (Donna Tartt)

What’s your favourite holiday destination? Paris

What’s your favourite hobby / activity outside athletics? Cinema

If you were Seb Coe what changes would you implement to improve our sport? With the Diamond League set to drop distance events over 3000m, then World Athletics should do more to promote and support other Meets that feature 5000m & 10000m such as Highgate, Pre Classic, Ostrava Golden Spike… and Morton Games! For instance, they could link those meets as part of a League or Grand Prix. There is still large interest in those events and most of the top marathoners come from a track background.

How would your non-athlete friends describe you? (in 3 words) Skinny little fecker

What is your next running / athletics goal? (whenever normality returns!) Another year of running sub-16min for 5k. To keep the curve flat(-ish), if you’ll excuse the expression.

How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? I’m used to training and doing sessions on my own, so motivation is not a problem. I will miss the racing, so I may incorporate some solo time-trials every few weeks. I also remind myself that we are lucky to be able to run (at least at the time of writing!).

Galway Bay 10k: Declan with Gary O’Hanlon, Sergiu Ciobanu and Brian MacMahon

No. 17: 60 Seconds with Harrier Hope Saunders

Another of the club’s top female athletes, who uniquely was double National Junior Cross Country Champion in the same year 2015 (March & November).

Bio: Hope Saunders, 22 years old, college student studying exercise science in Wichita Kansas. Not too sure what I’ll do for a career yet but, I’ll figure it out as I go along 😉

What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? I took up athletics at 14years old because If I signed up for cross-country I would get to miss a day of secondary school… Sounded like a good deal! When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? Well the day I took off school for cross country didnt go too bad… I think i placed in the top 10 in the race so my teacher tried to get me to join Raheny afterward. My dad said there was no way he was driving me all the way to Raheny (we live in Finglas) so he brought me up to clonliffe instead. That was in 2013 i think.

What is your favourite training workout? Definitely a fartlek in santry park with Joe and the lads. I like to run by feel so fartlek allows that instead of chasing a time. (1min,2min,3min,4min,5min,4,3,2,1) on half recovery is a good one.

And your least favourite? I don’t really have a least favourite session. if you have someone to pull you through a tough session, it makes even the worst of sessions bearable. Doing 5-6 x1000m alone isn’t ideal though.

What’s your favourite race / athletics meet? Morton Games is great craic, never raced in it but the atmosphere is brilliant.

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) Probably when i won my first national u18/Junior cross-country title in Dundalk IT 2014. I’d say that is my most cherished moment as it was a huge shock. I never knew I was capable of winning a national title, I was new to the sport and I was also unaware that winning the race gave me automatic selection for Eurocross that December. I didnt even know what Eurocross was at the time.

What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? As a Junior I always struggled with Shin splints and calf troubles. My calves would get so tight to the point that I couldn’t put any weight on them or even jump on one leg. This went on for some time and it was prolonged because I became hyper cautious about not wanting to cause more damage if they were even slightly sore, thinking that they would start to cramp again. I did a lot of full body strength work, management for the anxiety i had around my injury and I also worked with a dietician and learned how to recover better.

(For a coach or seasoned athlete) What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? To know that you are worth a lot more than your personal bests and training results. Athletics is important to you of course but to also remember that there is more to who you are than just an athlete. You are an athlete but also a friend, maybe a sister/brother, a good cook, a dog walker, you name it. It is really important to have other hobbies and interests outside of athletics, because if it’s not going well you have something else to fall back on.

Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? (the censorship board may review!) When we were in the Juvenile group with Mick and Noel. A big group of us used to go running around santry park. There used to be a small river at the back of it between the trees and there was a rope attached to one of the branches. During one of our training runs we thought it would be a good idea to go to the river and swing across it on the rope. Sean Carrigg lead the troop and the rope broke and he fell into the river getting himself covered in muck and water. It was hilarious. Sean would always provide quality entertainment during those runs making training much more enjoyable.

What’s your favourite meal? I pretty much eat the same outside of competition and before a race. I’m not a fussy eater and I can luckily eat anything without any problems. My favourite dish is spaghetti meatballs that my dad makes with garlic bread. I try to keep it simple, no particular food is off limits.

Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other) I don’t really have a sporting hero as I joined athletics as a teenager so didn’t have many athletic heroes as a kid. I played too many different sports to pick one. I guess a non-sporting hero would be my dad. He taught me how to be tough and to “Keep on keeping on” even when it’s not easy. (he loves Bob Dylan,he even called my brother Dylan after him)

What’s your favourite…? A. Film- Favourite film is without a doubt, ‘Little Miss Sunshine’. B. Song or Album- i like to listen to upbeat music and podcasts when i run. Moon by Kid Francescoli is a good one. C. Book- I’m not much of a reader, I like podcasts more but my favourite book is defintely ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho

What’s your favourite holiday destination? I love Greece, it’s such a beautiful place. Great people, sights, weather and Food.

What’s your favourite hobby / activity outside athletics? I like dancing to music, playing with my dog, meeting or calling friends for a chat, listening to podcasts, watching youtube too.

If you were Seb Coe what changes would you implement to improve our sport? Not remove Steeple Chase from the Diamond league.

How would your non-athlete friends describe you? (in 3 words) Outgoing, fun-loving and funny .

What is your next running / athletics goal? (whenever normality returns!) I would like to get a Pb in the 3km and 5k again. A big goal would be to qualify and run in Eurocross in Dublin this year. If i achieved either of those goals I’d be delighted.

How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? I just generally enjoy running, so whether or not I have races I still want to get out the door. But if I’m lacking motivation, I just make myself get outside with some good tunes and once I start running my motivation usually kicks back in. Either that or drag one of my siblings out the door with me haha.

No. 16: 60 Seconds with Harrier Leo Morgan

Better read this fast as this guy will be gone in a flash! Blasting out of the blocks this morning is Leo Morgan.

Bio: Leo, I’m 24 and I’m currently a 60 metre & 100 metre sprinter for Clonliffe harriers, and previous 60m club record holder (6.82)

What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? Only took it up seriously at 21 years old, however, I competed seasonally throughout my school years in the west leinster & leinsters in the 100m/200m/4×100 relay

When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? September 2017! I had given up on rugby and other field sports in order to pursue sprinting. I joined Clonliffe Harriers because I was familiar with a lot of the athletes and coaches there prior to joining, also the success of the club was appealing

What is your favourite training workout? For good race results? Blocks, overspeed, fast 120s/150s For fun? Anything that includes jumping, hurdling, throwing or flipping!

And your least favourite? Speed endurance.. yuck.. gotta be done though

What’s your favourite race / athletics meet? IFAM Oordegem or Morton Games! Incredible atmosphere & quality of competitors.

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) Winning Irish University silver & a week later, National Senior Indoor bronze for 60m in 2018

What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? Torn hamstring in the national u23 100m final recall… Relentless rehab, good food and a whole lot of sleep!

(For a coach or seasoned athlete) What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? Enjoy yourself. No, really, enjoy what you do, have fun and work diligently. Seek to constantly improve yourself in every aspect within the sport & outside the sport. Appreciate both the highs and lows, appreciate the people you meet along the way, coaches, athletes, officials.. friends & memories, that’s what you remember most when looking back, not the times or titles in my opinion. “A happy athlete is a successful athlete.”

Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? (the censorship board may review!) European clubs last year in Tampere, Stephen Rice & I were in a Finnish night club.. Stephen was bulling through the doors cause he caught a glimpse of the karaoke machine, turns out every song was in Finnish, disappointing is an understatement, so we buys a coke vodka to drown our sorrows.. the DJ started playing more fast paced music, a moshpit formed with the attractive women being the majority of it, this was cool, but they were being hella aggressive, we were stunned, didn’t expect it, Stephen and I got bullied and shoved off the dancefloor shortly after. Weird experience

What’s your favourite meal? A. For competition – Farmers Salad & Nuts! B. Outside competition – Steak & Chips

Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other) A. Irish – Brian O’Driscoll B. International – LeBron James + Kobe Bryant

What’s your favourite…? A. Film Lord of The Rings B. Song or Album Song; Lucky you – Eminem + Joyner Lucas Album: Recovery – Eminem C. Book 12 Rules For Life – Jordan Peterson

What’s your favourite holiday destination? Marbella or The Alps

What’s your favourite hobby / activity outside athletics? Adventure sports like snowboarding, reading books, video games, working on personal projects, or just being active outdoors.

If you were Seb Coe what changes would you implement to improve our sport? Resign. Lol jk I’d have a plan to fund more locally based competitions, like Morton Games. Increase the budget to make track meets more streamlined, viewer friendly and fun and you’ll increase the audience. Let people buy beer, play music, have events trackside they can participate in etc.

How would your non-athlete friends describe you? (in 3 words) I don’t have friends, everyone is a competitor to me. But probably “competitive” if I did

What is your next running / athletics goal? (whenever normality returns!) Top 3 finish at next national championships & qualify for European indoor 60m next year.

How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? I like it and it makes me feel good, that’s all it takes for me really.


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