The second Clonliffe cross country squad day took place in Santry Park this morning. Once again there was a fine turnout of almost 50. After warm up the groups were put through their paces by the club’s coaches on a muddy cross country course, although it was in fact a very fine autumnal morning. Following the obligatory group photograph the athletes completed their cooldown and met back in the clubhouse for lunch.
The lunch was attended by our distance athletes and coaches, the club president Mick Kearney, former club president Paddy Marley, the club’s longest serving member, now in his 65th year as a Clonliffe Harrier, Johnny O’Leary and our special guest of honour Niall Bruton, who was accompanied by his mother Betty and wife Laura.
Niall of course is one of the greatest ever athletes produced by Clonliffe Harriers: 1991 1500 world student games gold medalist, 2 time world indoor 1500 finalist, including 4th place finish in 1995. Two-time winner of the iconic Wanamaker mile and 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games 1500 semifinalist. Niall spoke eloquently and passionately about his athletics journey from a young secondary school athlete in St Aidan’s, through his formative years at Clonliffe Harriers and then his NCAA career at Arkansas under coach John McDonnell, a journey that led all the way to an Olympic Games semi final. He spoke of the highs and lows of his career and the techniques which he used as part of his race preparation and indeed being the man he is he did not shy away from discussing the devastating effect of the injury that brought his career to a premature end. The engagement from the athletes in attendance was just superb with some brilliant and probing questions which Niall dealt with head-on, it was an amazing couple of hours and a privilege to attend.
Club president Mick Kearney made a presentation to Niall and Laura as a token of our grateful appreciation. It was one very special day.