No.53: 60 Seconds with Harrier Niall Counihan

An extremely valuable addition to the Clonliffe track & field team ranks in recent years and who “integrated” well despite being hampered by a Munster accent! A top points scorer in National league campaigns and a top pints man in Europe! Triple jumper Niall Counihan.

What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? 12yrs old in 1st year in secondary school. My favourite sport at the time was basketball and I was fast and well able to jump, but a teacher by the name of Phil Roche tried to transform me in to a track and field athlete.

When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? At the end of the 2017 season. I was always an admirer of the club and when I had the conversation with Timmy Crowe, he gave me Joe Cooper’s number and that was that.

What is your favourite training workout? Plyos in the pit, I love taking drills and getting competitive with myself about how far I can go with them.

And your least favourite? 400’s are disgusting. I don’t know how 400m runners do it and have fun.

What’s your favourite race / athletics meet? I love indoors because you don’t have to worry about wind and rain, so national indoors are my favourite.

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) As an athlete it was when I won national indoors in 2015. I had only really come back to the sport a year or two earlier from a long term injury that I thought I’d never recover from.

What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? Dislocated ankle in 2008 during a jump in training. I tried to keep coming back months later and it kept giving me trouble so I eventually put the idea of jumping to bed. After years of playing rugby and running on grass, my ankle got stronger so I started doing workouts with some athletes I was coaching and started seeing progress. The rest is history really.

(For a coach or seasoned athlete) What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? Surround yourself with good people and never EVER forget about them. Nobody does it alone and the good people around you will help you along.

Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? (the censorship board may review!) Probably when Keith Marks was in Portugal for Euro clubs and went up against some really good long jumpers. They were big strong looking guys and Keith looked about 12. He was dancing like a lunatic before one of his jumps and absolutely smashed it. 7.48m I think and beat a professional athlete in the process. None of the Clonliffe guys were surprised because we know what Keith can do but the look on everyone else’s faces were priceless.

What’s your favourite meal? A. For competition – I eat a lot of fruit on competition days B. Outside competition – pizza

Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other) A. Irish – Keith Earls B. International – Doug Howlett

What’s your favourite…? A. Film – Saving private Ryan B. Song or Album – Sam’s town by the killers C. Book – any match day program from Thomond park

What’s your favourite holiday destination? Lanzarote

What’s your favourite hobby / activity outside athletics? I own a gym which keeps me busy, I like to keep fit and strong. If I’m not in the gym I’m at home chilling with my dogs. I’m a massive Munster rugby fan so I go to a lot of rugby matches both here and overseas.

If you were Seb Coe what changes would you implement to improve our sport? I’d like to see zero tolerance when it comes to drug cheats. Lifetime bans. They destroy the integrity of our sport.

How would your non-athlete friends describe you? (in 3 words) Competitive, confrontational, obsessive

What is your next running / athletics goal? (whenever normality returns!) I’m Looking at a future in coaching. I feel like I’d have a lot to offer from that side of things, and with my strength and conditioning coaching background and resources, I think I could help produce some serious talent.

How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? I’m focusing a lot on my business for now and training when I can. I’m not finding it easy because after I had to close the gym I struggled mentally for a while. But I’m getting there now. I find that being productive in any kind of way helps.

Hands up who thinks Niall is the club’s best triple jumper!
Yet another Track & Field League Title
Favourite Meet: Indoors