Another Clonliffe lifer. Athlete, committee member, Treasuer, administrator, Race Director, pint puller, pint drinker, you name it Mick Kearney has been there, done it and lost the T Shirt!
Bio: Member of Clonliffe Harriers for the past 35 years. While I did some training and had modest success was too easily lead astray into more dedicated socialising. Nonetheless was delighted to be associated with the top Athletics Club in Ireland and assisted the club in a number of roles including Treasurer.
What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? I was always fascinated by track and field and made a point of watching top class international athletics on TV. I later started attending Olympics, World and European Championships and had some memorable trips in the company of Sean Callan and Harry Gorman. The main reason I ran initially was to steer clear of trouble as a kid. I found that I had a kick and sprint ability that enabled me to evade those in hot pursuit. I had a brother in law, Henry Kiely, who was a keen runner and I joined him occasionally. It was not until I came to Dublin in 1980, working in the Revenue Commissioners in Dublin Castle, that I started running consistently. I found a ready companion in the great Jimmy Bennett. Lunch times consisted of runs from the Castle to the Phoenix Park. As Jim used train for the Dublin Marathon I also took this route and entered on a number of occasions. My interest in running did not go unnoticed and I was recruited to run for Revenue’s Customer and Excise Team in the Business Houses. The team included Pat Healy, Seamus Creed, Christy Kearns and the late Tadgh O’Keeffe.
When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? I joined Clonliffe in 1985. The reason for joining was that practically all of Revenue’s Customs and Excise Team were members of Clonliffe Harriers. As I was starting to show some promise my colleagues persuaded me to join Clonliffe and take my running to another level.
What is your favourite training workout? Fartlek, was always my favourite work out. I found it was highly effective in improving my running speed and endurance. It suited me to alternate between fast segments and slow jogs. I particularly enjoyed the sessions overseen by Maurice Ahern in Malahide. Laro Byrne, Paddy Marley, Tommy Griffin and the late Padraig Keane were great motivators.
And your least favourite? Mile repeats was the most difficult.
What’s your favourite race / athletics meet? 800m and the Morton Games. It has been great to see the Morton Games growing in stature under the direction of Noel Guidan.
What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) The event that gave me the greatest satisfaction was breaking 3 hours in the Marathon for the first time. What benefitted me enormously was the introduction to serious and focused training in Clonliffe. Within a year of joining I went under 3 hours in the Detroit Free Press Marathon on 17th October 1986, knocking 35 minutes off my previous best time in the process. Another international success was in New York in 1996 on route back from the Olympics in Atlanta. Both Pat Bonass and I entered the New York Road Runners race – the Kurt Steiner Speed Series which was held on Staten Island. We both won our respective Master categories which was a great thrill. I was delighted to have the privilege, with Johnny O Leary, of accompanying the Clonliffe cross country teams, coaches and officials on their visit to Seville earlier this year. It was a fantastic occasion to see so many Clonliffe athletes competing to such a high standard in one of the top cross country races in Europe. A great tribute to Caption Joe Cooper and Co. Long may such trips continue. Most of my memorable moments are now ensuring events are run successfully. The Clonliffe 2 Mile is a highlight of each year together with the continuing sponsorship of the event by the Kavanagh Family in Glasnevin. I am also delighted to be able to support the Grand Prix . On the national stage I work in the AAI Call Room.
What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? Thankfully I have not incurred any major injury. One that I recall is turning on my ankle during Mick Murphy 5 mile in Malahide back in the late 1980s. Amazingly I was able to continue running to the finish line and win the handicap. However within 30 minutes my ankle swelled like a balloon. It took a month of rest and physio to get back in action.
(For a coach or seasoned athlete) What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? You need to set a goal and be passionate about accomplishing it.
Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? (the censorship board may review!) I go back to the celebration of the Clonliffe Harriers centenary on 1 January 1986. A cross country race was held around lunchtime on New Year’s Day. It was on the old course now Santry Demesne. It was typical cross country weather wet and cold. I was in two minds whether to run as I had a sniffle. In any event I competed and got to the finish line. Having showered all were invited to the club bar. After a short wait, which seemed like an eternity at the time, Frances Mansfield, assisted by Frankie and Nuala McDaid, opened the shutters and shouted at all and sundry that the drinks were free and courtesy of Irish Distillers. Heart-warming hot whiskies were dispensed at rapid speed. After about an hour to my consternation the shutters came down again. It was a false alarm as the shutters came up again almost immediately. Frances again at the top of her hearty voice exclaimed in clear diction – this reception is sponsored by Arthur Guinness. Wonderful glorious pints of mouthwatering Guinness started to appear. It was not long before the singing started and a great New Year’s night ensued.
What’s your favourite meal? A. For competition Bacon and mushroom pasta B. Outside competition Baked salmon and piping hot veg accompanied by a full bodied red wine.
Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other) A. Irish Jerry Kiernan, Sonia O Sullivan, Eamon Coghlan B. International Alberto Juantorena
What’s your favourite…? A. Film It’s A Wonderful Life B. Song or Album Astral Weeks – Van Morrison C. Book James Joyce’s Ulysses
What’s your favourite holiday destination? Acoteias in the Algarve which is a sporting mecca for athletes. It’s a great location for warm weather training and the site for many Euro Cross Country Championships. Of late it’s the venue of choice for the Clonliffe Algarve Tour(Retired) under the guidance of senior coach Martin Treacy.
What’s your favourite hobby / activity outside athletics? I started practicing Chen Style Tai Chi a number of years ago. It’s the foundation for martial arts and I practice every day. I am also an active member of Toastmasters.
If you were Seb Coe what changes would you implement to improve our sport? I think there should be more of a focus in developing athletics in schools to ensure the long term survival of the sport. The IAAF should prioritise its resources to achieve this.
How would your non-athlete friends describe you? (in 3 words) Reliable, conscientious, tenacious.
What is your next running / athletics goal? (whenever normality returns!) To assist with the resumption of competitive athletic activity in the club. It would be nice to get Club Championships and some Grand Prix races, including the Clonliffe 2, underway in the near future.
How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? I have managed to keep a good level of fitness walking each day for 1 hour and 30 minutes and practicing Tai Chi for a further 2 hours. I have particularly enjoyed the features put together by Noel Guiden on the Clonliffe web site.