Archive for June, 2020

Classic Photo of Billy Morton resurfaces

From the mid 1960s in what looks like an audition for The Who’s “Quadrophenia” Billy Morton on a vespa on the cinder track in Santry Stadium!

“Talking ’bout my generation!”

This classic photo was donated to Clonliffe yesterday June 20th by a gentleman in Santry Demsene Park! The man in question a number of weeks ago was talking to Mick Fogarty at Saturday morning training in the park and said he had a brilliant photo of Billy Morton and he’d like to give it to the club. Low and behold true to his word he did! Soon to be displayed in the clubhouse.

Virtual challenge, final round.

Eugenia Bateson reports: The final part of the Virtual Challenge already!!  This week was the Standing Long Jump.  Is there no end to the talent of some of these young athletes??

U12 Girls – the small but mighty Sienna Kelly had a very impressive jump of 2.01 meters.  This was matched by her mother’s ability to get a great shot during the jump.

U13 Boys – again brought out the very competitive Aidan Benjacar.  Aidan and the U13 and younger ages will be very eager to get back to Gladys, their coaches and training.  The U12’s and U13’s who have participated in this challenge have certainly shown us that they are keeping fit and healthy during the lockdown.  U13 girls were Cara Connolly jumping 1.7 with Harriett Kenny jumping 1.61 meters.  Cara’s brother James U9 jumped 1.67, good man James.  Sienna, Cara, Harriett, Caoimhe, Ashling, Hannah and Aidan have given great representation of the youngest members of our club during this 4-week Virtual Challenge. Well Done to you all.

U 14 Girls was led by Alexandra Kelly in a jump of 2.01 meters, Rebecca Walsh and Sarah McDonnell both jumped 2 meters with Ali Connolly only marginally behind on 1.98.  I think the constant 2meter rule is well embedded in their heads.  Interestingly Sarah and her twin brother Jack both jumped 2 meters even.  Is that a twin thing?? U14 Boys was Jack McDonnell at 2m, Noah Rossi 1.92 and Sean McHugh 1.91.  

U15 Girls followed the 2m theme with Kate Faherty jumping 2m and Hazel Kenny on 1.64.  U15 Boys was also won with 2m from Devan Morrissey, Mark Goss Keogh on 1.98 and Lorcan Benjacar on 1.9

Well done to all the athletes who took part in this Virtual Challenge, whether you did one challenge of all four it was amazing to see so many of you taking part and enjoying your athletics.  Great days ahead as we come out of lockdown with lots to look forward to.

Another 60 seconds: no. 4 Peter Cahill

Another of Pam & Ben’s group. a returnee to the sport, who has competed since returning in club races and both Novice and Masters Cross Country.

Bio:I was brought up in Seapoint and went to the Christian Brothers in Monkstown . Living in Dublin 15 for the past sixteen years.

What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? I took up running in primary school when I was about ten. I was quick in the swimming pool and mini tag rugby and my speed was noticed by the PE teacher.

When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? I took the plunge and joined Clonliffe Harriers in July 2017. This boiled down to a combination of factors. I was working on a contract at the time a few miles away and was aware of the clubs facilities and reputation. My mum’s side of the family are from Glasnevin and attended events in the Morton stadium over the years. I had run a couple of Dublin City Marathons for the bucket list and wanted to rekindle my love for running from my school days. I felt I needed a structured training environment with like minded individuals and found a great spirit, devoted coaches and a sense of community after joining the club.

What is your favourite training workout? A speed track session consisting of 300m x 3, 200m x 3 and 100m x 6 cycles run hard with a slow 100m jog recovery between repetitions. Great for testing your speed endurance and anaerobic threshold. Another favourite for some strange reason is the weekly pyramid session in Trinity fields where Ben and Pam have that natural knack on picking up on any breakdown in both running form and mechanics as you attempt that last dreaded pyramid.

And your least favourite? 800M interval repeats on the track.

What’s your favourite race / athletics meet? 1500m at the Weltklasse Zurich

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) Leinster Schools Medals

What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? Luckily touch wood I have not picked up any major running injuries except for a mild hamstring strain on two occassions and a moderate form of achilles tendonitis. (I didn’t do much running through my twenties and mid thirties which was probably a contributing factor). Followed recommended treatment protocols and extended out my recovery period to be on the safe side.

(For a coach or seasoned athlete) What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? Probably not qualified enough but from my limited experience i’ll give it a shot anyway.` Train consistently and recover adequately in order to perform well. Mix up your running terrain to prevent injury and build power and speed.

Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? (the censorship board may review!) I wondered why I was getting some funny looks on the track one balmy Thursday evening. In my eagerness to get my new skin tight lycra running shorts on I had put them on back to front. They didnt feel like the bee’s knees until I noticed my error when I arrived home.

What’s your favourite meal? A. For competition None in particular B. Outside competition Roast sea bass with mediterannean salad and roast potatoes.

Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other) A. Eamon Coughlan, Stephen Roche, Gary O’Toole, Padraig Harrington B. International Steve Scott, Michael Phelps,

What’s your favourite…? A. Film Schindlers List B. Song or Album Aslan – This Is (Original version) C. Book Rough Ride by Paul Kimmage,

What’s your favourite holiday destination? Italy What’s your favourite hobby / activity outside athletics? Swimming, Climbing, Hiking, Socializing, Reading and Baking. Was always torn between running and swimming. I still cherish winning a Leinster Schools Swimming Championship Title.

If you were Seb Coe what changes would you implement to improve our sport? A complete overhaul of the testing systems. More stringent, random testing of athletes.

How would your non-athlete friends describe you? (in 3 words) Is Great Company

What is your next running / athletics goal? (whenever normality returns!) Race more and perform to my potential on the track both indoors and outdoors at masters level.

How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? Luckily I am blessed with a big park on my doorstep which acts as a great motivator for maintaining some level of fitness. I get out for a run five evenings a week. Three easy runs along with a fartlek and an interval session performed on the dry grass. Great for revitalizing body and mind during these challenging times.

Peter in school’s action a little while back!
Brought to his knees!

Run Clonliffe run! The full return gets even closer!

Clonliffe Harriers are delighted with the announcement by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the last few minutes of the further easing of Covid – 19 restrictions and the continued acceleration of the road to recovery. In particular we welcome the announcement of an almost full return of sport from Monday, June 29. Almost as exciting is the opening of hairdressers and barbers!

Forget training, get to that barber!

Clonliffe Harriers of course await further guidance from our governing body Athletics Ireland on the continued return to training and normal club activity. Hopefully this will permit the return of the U/13 athletes to training in Santry all of whom together with their long suffering parents have been waiting patiently! At present these athletes cannot return but hopefully on June 29. This website will be updated as soon as we have further news on that front.

Assuming all continues to go well it certainly looks like there will be a late track and field season for athletes. The club continues to work on the planned return of club races and our own club track and field championships.Hopefully early in July we can have a club race by way of a trial and then in mid/late July we can look to have our club junior/senior track and field championships. This time may also see a couple of the Dublin Athletics Graded Meets. August 8 and 9th will see Athletics Leinster hold the Leinster junior/senior/masters track and field championships. Leading on to August 22nd and 23rd and the national senior track and field championships at Morton Stadium.

Currently we do not have any confirmation of the position concerning juvenile Championships (again we will update as soon as possible)

Another 60 Seconds: no. 3 Kieran Murphy

An athlete who despite being a relative late comer to the sport set himself goals that have been well and truly met and surpassed, despite a dodgey start! Kieran Murphy.

What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? When we moved back to Dublin in 2002, I had to have a stress ECG treadmill test as part of health screening. The doctor who did the test told me afterwards that I was only the third person he knew that had never reached maximum heart rate on the treadmill. When I casually mentioned this to a GP friend, he told me that I should try running as a sport so I started running short distances without any target or structure, mainly to maintain fitness and to keep my weight down.

When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? I went to a work conference in San Francisco in 2003 when I was 39 and work colleague and long-time Clonliffe Harrier Declan Murray persuaded me to run Bay to Breakers, a 12k race through the streets of San Francisco starting at the Bay and finishing at the ocean. To my surprise, I did better than some on the guys who were running with clubs so Declan insisted on bringing me to Clonliffe Harriers. The rest is history. Thanks Declan!

What is your favourite training workout? Have always liked the winter Thursday evening runs on the road even though we don’t do them so much any more. Although we are meant to be doing these as a consistent moderately paced run, the pace tends to quicken as we get closer to the club as everyone tries to get home first!

And your least favourite? I have never been good at shorter distances so least favourite workout is definitely 400 m interval repeats

What’s your favourite race / athletics meet? Definitely the marathon. You train so hard for so long and the result is dependent on so many different variables. When it works, it’s absolutely brilliant. When it doesn’t, it’s absolutely gutting.

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) There are two and both relate to the marathon. I spent years trying to get a sub 3 and was always very close. In 2011, a group of us from Clonliffe did the Rotterdam Marathon and I finally got the monkey off my back when I did 2.59. Maurice McCrohan and I ran together to half-way and he turned to me and said he had never run the first half so quickly. I didn’t know whether to be alarmed or elated! As I ran down the closing stages, I remember Conor Delaney was standing beyond the finish line beckoning me towards the line and into that elite club of sub-3 marathoners. The guys knew how long I had been trying for it and it was great to be able to celebrate it with them. Jeremy Chapman didn’t have such a good day though and has vowed never to return there. We’ll get you back there some day Jeremy! The second relates to the 2018 Dublin marathon. It was a beautiful day and everything seemed to go right. I never hit the wall and crossed the line in 2.57. The icing on the cake was M55 National Silver, Leinster Gold and Dublin Gold. It was a bit like buses – for years I never got medals and then all of a sudden three showed up together!

What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? My worst injury happened in 2017 when I tore my soleus in the run-up to DCM. I was out for about six months but with physio and the help of a good sports doc, I slowly inched my way back. Initially started walking and then very slowly running on the treadmill, increasing by just one minute each time. When I finally got to 40 minutes, I started to run outside again and gradually built up my speed. Soleus injuries can be terminal so I only really believed I had recovered after DCM the following year.

(For a coach or seasoned athlete) What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? The most important thing is to listen to your body. Respect your body, don’t ask too much of it and ensure you get plenty of recovery time, especially as you get older. Most people that I started running with who are my age have now stopped running, almost all because of injury.

Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? (the censorship board may review!) In one of my earlier years with Clonliffe, I ran a club road race (I think a 5 mile) and saw Pat Devitt in the distance with a big X on his back. I accelerated and passed him out delighted that, in my mind, I had taken his scalp. Of course, I had made my move too early and he easily passed me out on the final bend. The race was videoed and when the video was replayed afterwards, all anyone could see was Pat’s beaming grin after he had passed me by. I didn’t make that rookie mistake again!

What’s your favourite meal? A. For competition Pasta B. Outside competition I’ve been vegan for almost 10 years but I break out every Christmas and stuff myself with turkey and ham. There is nobody so carniverous as a lapsed vegan!

Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other) A. Irish – Jerry Kiernan B. International – Abebe Bikila

What’s your favourite…? A. Film – Lord of the Rings. Love French cinema so maybe Jean de Florette / Manon des Sources too. B. Song or Album – Hard to pick just one. Like all types of music especially classical and jazz C. Book The China Study (for all you aspiring vegans out there!)

What’s your favourite holiday destination? Mallorca

What’s your favourite hobby / activity outside athletics? I play the piano

If you were Seb Coe what changes would you implement to improve our sport? Root out drug use – biggest threat to athletics

How would your non-athlete friends describe you? (in 3 words) If I find any I’ll ask them

What is your next running / athletics goal? (whenever normality returns!) I would like to get back into a regular training structure as soon as possible. Would like to look at the European Masters circuit.

How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? It’s a bit harder to get motivated without the structure of weekly training and a race or two to aim for. However, running is so much a part of my daily routine that it’s not really a problem. Philip O’Doherty has started up a 5k virtual race so that will help too. I love when I get out for my daily run – it just clears the head and makes eating and drinking much more guilt-free!

Kieran takes it out on those “Country Roads”
National Masters XC, Santry, 2007

Yet more groups back in training

Good to report on the continued increase in club training here in Santry tonight. Tonight there was a great turn out of athletes in the various groups all working under their coaches, split into the required groups, all observing social distancing and protocols put in place. Tonight saw the return of Graham’s group working under three coaches, with staggered start/finish times and in different parts of Santry Demesne. These athletes have all been involved in the Virtual Challenge (see previous postings) but tonight all met up for the first time since early March.

The Gangs of Santry Demsene

Also training in Morton Stadium, again, using their allocated time slots were various groups including Gerry’s sprints group, Eugene’s group, Philip’s, Pamela’s, Fogo’s, Noel’s, Joe and Stephen’s, the senior middle distance group under Peter and John’s senior sprints group.

As the restrictions continue to ease hopefully even more athletes can get back to the club. Again at the end of the month we expect news on possible track & field events. National seniors, according to media reports are penciled in for August 15th & 16th or 22nd & 23rd and according to dates are provisionally planned for U/14 upwards competition in August & September. Will post further once we know.

Monday Memories with Maurice Ahern (Part 1)

Recently in a contribution to a ‘Harriers’ profile I wrote that I was always interested in Athletics amongst other sports. So thinking back I calculated that I attended many if not most of the Clonliffe Harriers sports at College Park, Lansdowne Road and Santry Stadium throughout the 1950’s. Inspired by the Rome Olympics of 1960 and the Clonliffe Harriers meeting that followed I made my way to the Stadium sometime after and joined the club. I have been asked under the heading ‘Memories’ to pen some of my memories of the sixties in and around Clonliffe. I do not intend it to be a historian’s view of club history from the newspaper archives but rather a “I was there” view of the hidden history matters.

In that 1st year, I listened carefully to the advice of the Captain Harry Cooney who in time became my Coach. Around then in 1961 the club celebrated 75 years of its existence, but the dressing room gossip left one in no doubt that all was not good in the club. Soon I was introduced to the annual pre-Christmas Toy run to Cappagh hospital and the unofficial run back 4.25 mile to the stadium. No mercy shown to newcomers, the senior members let the Novices know what stamina and strength was all about and whilst unofficial, the Captain added to his statistics for handicap purposes. Within a week, the Irish television service was launched and a few days later in January 1962 the very 1st recorded coverage of an Irish sports event was shown. Only portions of the Donore invitation 1 mile & 1000 yards from Chapelizod to the swing gates at Islandbridge. Clonliffe members were to the fore at the start and some were saying they should be in the 100 yards dash but sure they were only trying to stay up with the camera. The novelty of it all.

In a desperate bid for revenue, Billy Morton, our Hon Secretary used his contacts in England to entice four of the popular Rugby League clubs of the time to come to Dublin to play an end of season tournament. In May of 1962 whatever about media positivity the appearance of the four clubs Widnes, Warrington, Huddersfield and Featherstone Rovers was anything but a success and was counter productive to the club. Arising from this the honorary treasurer and trustee Michael McStay resigned and with no rush to take his position Billy took on this Hon position also. Some weeks later the gossip of the time became a reality when headlines in the sport pages of the Irish press read of Clonliffes difficulties. Four years after the opening of the stadium the creditors were still due almost £20,000. The failure of the Military Tattoo of 1959 and the rugby League tournament had not helped, and questions were asked about what was going wrong with Athletic attendances.

All sorts of reasons were common among members with some jocosely blaming the ranting of Myles na Gcopaleen in the newspapers, others blamed the curse of the Domvilles and their bad luck. They were residents for over 200 years of the great Big house of Santry. Even some said it was the “Revenge of the Fairies” in reference to the clearing of the woods and the long-standing shrubbery where the stadium now stands. Much more likely the advent of TV and the availability of world class athletics in front of 35,000 at the White City. Furthermore, the winning after 16 years of the All Ireland football final by a native Dublin team in 1958 and with most of the team being Northsiders GAA became the sport that was attracting attendances locally.

The cards were truly on the table now and the pressure was particularly on the Officers/Trustees. The meagre club finances could pay for the maintenance of the track, top dressing etc and also the fuel for the boiler house and whatever else. Billy Morton undertook to pay the groundsman wages on a week by week basis which in the end lasted years. However, there was no money to pay for prizes or team entry fees and travel costs were always paid by the athletes themselves.

To support this need, an ad hoc committee “checkmates” was formed of Olaf Rafferty, Alex Sweeney, Al Guy, Johnny O’Leary, Don Appleby and Maurice Ahern. They worked hard for possible money making ventures and they were helped and supported by many others over the following years. Far from today’s super website Alex Sweeney produced the Clonliffe news sheet as editor and printer. I must dust off the copies I have in my attic and read the articles of interest as contributed by the editor and members in those far off days. After training I sold Slainte minerals and club milks to the members helped by Johnny O’Leary. Don Appleby in whose home the more important meetings were held was the chief organiser of the Seven-a-side football tournament and Al Guy promoted the flag days.

Of course, there was crossover help for all of the aforementioned while they lasted and some making money for years. I well remember my young brother Bertie as a 14 year old standing outside the “Payantake” grocery shop on the Drumcondra Road shaking his yellow flag box “S.S.S” Save Santry Stadium. The returns from the annual flag days went to the stadium fund.

The Irish Tennis people and the agents for the track encouraged Clonliffe to lay an all weather tennis court inside the track but after a few professional tournaments there Billy was disillusioned when the plum match which all tennis wanted to see between Pancho Gonzalez & Lew Hoad became a 5 set thriller before a huge audience at Lad Lane, the home of Fitzwilliam in 1961. Clonliffe needed to use the facility and so the tennis court was lifted and replaced with grass and Home Farm became the 1st club to use it.

There were many other clubs after that and right up to the present day. Athletics and athletic chat was not forgotten, Jesse Owens visited Dublin and spoke at a sports conference in the S.F.X. Brian Kilby of Coventry Godiva set a new record distance for a 1 hour track run and later in September we had a festival of sport in the stadium.

The AGM carried by 1 vote a proposal to increase the sub to £2. Harry Cooney the Captain despite the obvious pressure never forgot the athletes making the same journey, first by bus and later by car from Crumlin to the stadium three days a week. After a discussion with the novice panel members, it was agreed that if the club was open at night Monday through to Thursday and at the weekend an all-out effort would be made to win the novice team title, this was achieved in December 1962 but was to be the clubs last team gold on road or cross country until 1968.

Athletes seeking a change of club knew they had to make a decision, join a famous club with its own track for training or another unburdened by debt. Young stars of the future like Frank Murphy and Des McCormack were welcomed to Santry in what was to become a snow laden cross-country season.

1963 opened with the annual match between Clonliffe Harriers & London University on the XC and then a further headache what to do about the deadline of the land option we had on other ground surrounding the stadium. Meanwhile the monthly fundraising dances at the O’Lehane Hall in Parnell Square got underway with dances in March/April/May and later in the year at the St.Anthony Hall. One cynical member using the club news sheet wrote a snarling article demeaning the effort of the main committee as they threaded their way between legal letters, finance and athletics. Perhaps the naming of the stadium as the John F. Kennedy stadium was not thought out fully at the time. The USA President passed the gate in June of that year.

The Douglas Wilson Road Relays continued as did an International meeting at Santry though the by passing of Clonliffe Harriers who were more synonymous with International Athletics meetings for the showing of Ireland’s 1st live Athletics on TV was disappointing. This Civil Service AC meeting was held on the grass track in College Park in July 1963. Frances Mansfield’s memory of the Ladies section in 1963 and there after is detailed and so in remembering the great fun we had in those years I will leave it with Frances. Just two more memories I have of the end of 1963, I was elected to the club committee in October of that year for the 1st time and the trial race on the track at the end of November. The prize, a trip to Kenya for the winner Basil Clifford and the distance 1 mile.

Part 2 of Maurice’s Memories next week.

Another 60 Seconds: No. 2 Stephen Bateson

We really need to keep this going. Today a great insight into a guy who has thrown himself 100% into the “way of the true Harrier”: sitting on the club committee, coaching, course building. Basically a brilliant “whatever is needed” Clonliffe Harrier.

Bio: 49 year old Structural Engineer with Irish Rail, Assistant Coach to Joe Cooper with Junior Men and Assistant Club Secretary. 12 Marathons under my belt and plenty of miles in road races. Love putting up the Cross Country Courses in Santry, don’t always enjoy taking them back down!

What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? I ran quite a lot when I was young and was reasonably good, winning in school and local sports days. I represented my schools at both primary and secondary level and even made the National’s in Belfield one year and finished 9th in the North Leinsters. Then I fancied myself as a footballer and played Gaelic Football till my mid 30’s mostly with Ballymun Kickhams and finished playing with Dunderry in Co. Meath before my 3rd child was born. I won a couple of Championship medals and was player of the year a couple of times with Kickhams so I favoured the football. On reflection I really was only good at running around a pitch and was relatively fast so I probably should have pursued the athletics. After the football, I toyed with the idea of going back to running for a couple of years and then started back with Dunshaughlin AC with a bit of gentle persuasion from Paddy Mangan. My first race was the Dunshaughlin 10K on mid-summer night in sweltering heat after 2 weeks training, it was a real baptism of fire but I enjoyed it enough to keep going.

When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? This is my second stint in Clonliffe Harriers, I was a member when I was 12 -14 yrs old, got the club gear in the shop behind the Cat and Gage and remember the long runs out by the airport. When we moved back to Dublin 2016, my Daughter Sarah switched to Clonliffe and then I followed and joined Philip O’Doherty’s group. I ran a couple of Marathons in both Dunshaughlin and Clonliffe vests. Joe gave me a shout to ask if I would give a hand with the Juniors and I haven’t looked back. Noel asked me then to help out as assistant secretary which I was very happy to be involved in, it opens up a whole new area in Athletics which can be rewarding.

What is your favourite training workout? When I am fit I love a good long Sunday run but I was never good at getting up at 6.00 in the morning to do these. The longer the day goes on, the more difficult it is to get these done.

And your least favourite? Nowadays it is anything repetitive on the track or running with my daughter Sarah when she takes off and I can’t catch her!

What’s your favourite race / athletics meet? The Dunshaughlin 10 k is probably my favourite race as it always high quality and is well supported. There is an atmosphere around the race which is not matched anywhere else. That said even my best time there I was beaten by a guy wearing a beer bottle costume. The Dublin Marathon, of course, can be a great day but I have shuffled home from most of them. They are great when you think back on them though. We have attended the Morton Games for a good few years, I love the Morton Mile and it has been great to be involved as a volunteer for the last couple of years.

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) The last couple of years as assistant coach have been very fruitful for the club at Junior level with a number of individual and team medals in the cross country and a number of individual titles on the track in both schools and club. The athletes have done all the hard work under the guidance of Joe and personally I have learned an awful lot about the sport during this time. There have been races where someone may not have performed to their best but as a team and group they have always been there for each other. This is something I cherish with working with this group and something in the long run that the club should benefit from. As an individual stand-out moment Jayme Rossiter hurdling the water jump to win the 2019 Senior National Steeple chase was very memorable.

What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? I was involved in a car crash in 2013 and following that I have had a number of problems with my back and hips mainly due to tighten muscles in my back. I was never the most flexible with regards to stretching but that accident has resulted in me being more limited. Like most athletes I still don’t always stretch prior to running and should not be surprised that I end up crooked.

(For a coach or seasoned athlete) What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? The most obvious thing to me (now) and I hear Joe saying it often, that Athletes should listen to their own bodies. Many times over the years, both playing football and running, I didn’t and ended up with injuries. As a coach you can’t know what or how the Athlete feels, so it’s up to them to let the coach know.

Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? (the censorship board may review!) When Joe Cooper took me off whistle duties! One evening in the Trinity Grounds when doing a session on the whistle Joe asked me to keep the time and blow the whistle to start/stop the efforts. It was a windy day but to be fair more breezy than windy. I was working away but then heard Joe calling me to blow the whistle louder, so I put a bit more effort into it. However the next time the lads came around Ben Guiden gave me a message to whistle louder. At this stage I was blowing from my socks up. Next thing, still not happy, Joe comes over and yells “give me the ******* whistle”. He noted that I was the only person he ever stood down from whistle duties. I have only recently been re-instated!

What’s your favourite meal? A. For competition: Porridge it the morning and pasta the night before, fairly predictable. B. Outside competition: Steak, Chips and pepper sauce with a glass of red wine.

Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other) A. Irish, John McCarthy, Dublin footballer. My mother always loved “the Dubs” and we watched as kids in the 1970’s. In my first senior Match for Ballymun Kickhams, my first touch of the balls was to catch and pass to the on-running “Macker” who took the pass and slotted it over the bar. B. International, Calumn Hawkins, hugely impressive Marathon runner you can believe in!

What’s your favourite…? A. Film – I like a black and white Ealing movie with Alec Guiness or Jack Hawkins. B. Song or Album – Johnny Cash, The American Recordings. C. Book – Watership Down, John Adams, but I can read anything. I not much interested in Sports biography as a genre, but Charlie Speddings “From last to First” was interesting. I like books around factual World War II spies and Bletchley Park.

What’s your favourite holiday destination? St Raphael in Southern France.

What’s your favourite hobby / activity outside athletics? A few pints and a chat with my Dad.

If you were Seb Coe what changes would you implement to improve our sport? Investing into athletics where most clubs and associations internationally are run by volunteers. I would like to see the sport regaining its high interest from spectators, promote profiles of high performance athletes to draw in crowds into stadiums again and get kids to see athletics as a sport to engage in rather than just GAA, Soccer, Rugby etc. Athletics meets need to bring entertainment to draw investors, sponsorship and crowds.

How would your non-athlete friends describe you? (in 3 words) Funny, Obliging, Reliable.

What is your next running / athletics goal? (whenever normality returns!) I would like to get back fit and attempt a marathon without falling over the finish line and ending up in the medical tent. I might even do the Dublin Masters Cross Country (if Joe selects me!).

How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? The lock down allowed me to run more than I have for a long time. At the beginning I was very unfit and by doing 5k per day initially for a month or so I have been able to build this up to 60 Km a week. I feel that I am lucky to have running to keep busy and the mind occupied. It’s been good to have and I haven’t suffered from lack of motivation.

Juvenile Virtual Challenge: Sprint Week

Eugenia Bateson Reports: Sprint Week – Week 3 of the Virtual Challenge was a 60m Sprint for U12 and U13 and 80m for U14- U16. I would not like to be a finishing line judge for this one and no doubt a few would have required photo finish judges at the highest level in Athletics to call it.

With most of this group returning to training on Tuesday, their resilience and determination over the past 3 months is paying off. They are fit and keen to get back to training as a group, to their club and competition. The club and coaches are even more eagerly awaiting their return. Their motivation has kept us going (not the other way around!) This week we only had one U12 Girl Sienna Kelly who decided doing the 60m for age group was not enough so also decided to do the older age group challenge of 80m recording a more than respectable time. U13 Boy Aidan Benjacar also took part in both and would give the U14 boys a good run for their money.

Lorcan’s reign as record holder in the Junior Parkrun Albert College is seriously under threat with Aidan determined not to be outdone by his older brother! U13 girls were Harriet Kenny recording as superb time closely followed by Cara Connolly. James Connolly U9 took part again this week and he put some speed into his older sisters, Cara and Ali making them push hard to the finish line.

U14 to U16 ran an 80m challenge. This age group were well matched with a hair, if even that dividing them on the finish line. U14 girls were lead home by the very consistent Rebecca Walsh with Ali Connolly and Sarah McDonnell in what would have been a photo finish. Kate Campbell took part in the challenge for the first time this week and as always her lovely long stride brought her to the finish line nicely. Alexandra Kelly is continuing to show good form as she returns to athletics, great days ahead for these girls.

U14 Boys – Close is the only word to describe this one. These guys had a very impressive Cross Country, Indoors and work so well as a group that even virtually they seem to be fine-tuned. Noah Rossi and Jaydon Carroll recorded identical times. Jack McDonnell came in next followed by Jake Kane. This group, U14 Boys and Girls have a lot to look forward to as they return and their consistency during lock down will surely pay off.

U15 Boys, Lorcan Benjacar recorded a fantastic time and beat Devan Morrissey by .07 of a second. Mark Goss Keogh was .33 of a second behind him. What a race that would have been on the track! Devan and his cousin Noah clearly help push each other by doing their challenge together this week but still kept the social distancing, fantastic to see.

U15 Girls this week was one competitor Hazel Kenny, clearly showing she is fit and ready to get back to training. Her commitment and determination shows what great times ahead for her and her sister Harriett who have probably never missed a race or challenge. U16 Girls was lead home by Ciara Scott with Eabha Guy hot on her heels and Ailbhe Nolan pushing in at the finish for 3rd .

One week to go of this Challenge but I think the focus is now on getting the group up to Santry on Tuesday. Well done all. You have been a credit to your coaches and to your club!

Season 2, Another 60 Seconds: Aaron Cullen

Just like Netflicks as Season 1 finishes Season 2 starts. So here we go again with the imaginatively titled “Another 60 seconds”! We’d like this Season 2 to have more than a limited run, however, unless you the members want to get involved that’s exactly what it’s going to be. So far we’ve 4 Harriers who are up for it, so the duration of this season is a matter that’s entirely up to you. If you want it it’s here. (club members who would like to be involved e mail First up in Season 2, it’s one of our top Juniors….

Bio: Aaron Cullen, 18 years old, 6th year student in Portmarnock CS. Middle distance athlete (primarily 1500m).

What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? Probably around 8 (I can’t quite remember) – I wasn’t the best at team sports, I couldn’t understand how I could have the best match of my life and still lose or have the worst match of my life and come out with the win – with running I could see where the results came from.

When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? Around 5th class (I think). I started running in Fingallians AC. Why? Not many clubs have a wall dedicated to Olympians!

What is your favourite training workout? Joe’s Tuesday pre race workout – 500/400/300/200/100 off 2 minutes recovery.

And your least favourite? Mile repeats around Santry Park – Ben normally bruises the ego of the entire group!

What’s your favourite race / athletics meet? All Ireland Schools track – nothing seems bigger than schoolboy rivals

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) I couldn’t decide between these two. All Ireland Schools track 2017 – I took the gold in the mile, Daniel won the inter steeple and Craig brought 2 silver medals back to Portmarnock. Everything went right on the day! All Ireland junior cross this year. For the first time in 4 or 5 years the clonliffe junior team were serious underdogs going into the race. On the day everything fell into place and we won.

What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? I had a stress fracture during the 2018 cross country season. At the time it wasn’t ideal but looking back on it, it wasn’t the worst injury to get. I’ve had teammates with reoccurring or undiagnosed injuries, at least with a stress fracture you’ll be out of the boot in 6 weeks and back running in 7 or 8 weeks.

(For a coach or seasoned athlete) What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? Don’t forget to run slow during the week, we get preoccupied by what our watches say at times, there is no shame in running at 7.30 or slower.

Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? (the censorship board may review!) I’ve ran with Daniel for too many years now but there has to be some code of ethics within the group.

What’s your favourite meal? A. For competition: plain pasta with chicken, sausage and bacon. B. Outside competition: Anything with BQQ sauce

Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other) A. Irish: Eamonn Coghlan B. International: Centro

What’s your favourite…? A. Film: The Big Short or Good Will Hunting B. Song or Album: Anything that makes a 5k radius feel like the phoenix park C. Book: Elon Musks’ biography

What’s your favourite holiday destination? I really loved Washington DC

What’s your favourite hobby / activity outside athletics? I love coffee shops and eating Indian food (a staple of my diet)

If you were Seb Coe what changes would you implement to improve our sport? How many times have you watched a Diamond league race where 80% of the athletes are sporting the same Nike Kit and the rest are kitted out in Adidas gear? It must be mad for an outsider to turn on the TV and see all the athletes wearing the same shoes, singlet and shorts. I would implement a policy where the shoe companies have to set up teams just as OTC, Bowerman TC or the Boston Reebok TC and design different gear for each team. Perhaps even start a league between the teams or implement a draft like in the NBA, NFL etc.

How would your non-athlete friends describe you? (in 3 words) Shameless generic answer – “the running one”.

What is your next running / athletics goal? (whenever normality returns!) 3.50 in the 1500 How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? It’s a great opportunity to build up a good base before cross country and focus on the 1%ers such as s&c.

Aaron IAAF XC, Seville Jan. 2020

Young Guns: (R to L) Aaron, Cian Bolger, Ben Guiden club juvenile XC , 2014
2019 National Junior XC Champions, Abbotstown Nov.


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