Cathal Doyle of Clonliffe Harriers proved the class of the field at the Drogheda and District Christmas 5km, in Co Louth on Sunday (December 17) winning in course record time of of 14 mins 16 secs. It’s been a breakthrough year for the 26-year-old Clonliffe man who over eight days in July ran personal best times for 800m (1:48.51), 1500 (3:36.85) and the mile (3:56.05). A week later, he retained his Irish 1500m title. Providing he can hold that form, he looks almost certain of a place on the Irish team at next year’s Paris Olympics. Behind Doyle, in the battle for second place, Mitchell Byrne of Rathfarnham WSAF AC beat Kieran Kelly of Raheny Shamrock AC with the pair both given a time of 14:43. First woman in 17:00 was Carla Sweeney of Rathfarnham WSAF AC. Former Clonliffe athlete Becky Woods was third in 17:21.Rathfarnham WSAF, led by Byrne, took the men’s team prize, with Ryan O’Neill 10th, Lee Byrne 21st and Paul Fleming 22nd making up the team. Host club Drogheda and District packed well to finish second with Clonliffe Harriers third; Sean Carrigg 7th, Sean Doran13th and Garrett Loy 28th made up the Clonliffe team behind Doyle. Skerries AC, led by Colin Daly, was fourth, Raheny Shamrock eighth and Balbriggan Roadrunners 13th. Skerries AC, led by Maeve Hegarty finished third women’s team.
Have a happy Christmas everyone and here’s to lots more running, jumping and throwing in 2024!
Here are a few reminders of what’s coming up:
- Liffey Valley AC’s Tom Brennan Memorial 5km takes place on a fast, flat course in the Phoenix Park on New Year’s Day (9.30am). There is either a long-sleeved t-shirt or a hat for all finishers. The Islandbridge-based club will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2024. Details at liffeyvalleyac.com
- Just six days after that comes the Dublin Masters Cross-Country Championships in St Anne’s Park, Raheny on Sunday January 7 (first race 12.30pm). All athletes over 35 affiliated to a Dublin club are welcome to enter. Clubs can register as many athletes as they like with four to score for team medals in M/W35 and M/W65 categories. The Pat Hooper Perpetual Trophy goes to the best club overall. Entry fee is €8 plus charges. See www.dublinathletics.com/
fixtures for full details.
- Entry is also open for the 41st AXA Raheny 5 on Sunday January 28 (3pm). Warning: the race has a strict limit on entries. www.rahenyshamrock.ie.
THE LATE WILLIE DUNNE
Members of Donore Harriers and his many friends in Irish athletics are mourning the death of Olympic athlete Willie Dunne, who has died at the age of 90. Dunne, a Dubliner through and through, lived all his life in the Iveagh Trust flats in Kevin Street, where he and his eight brothers and one sister grew up. Like many others at the time, Willie started his sporting career as a boxer until one fateful summer’s day in 1949 when an athletics meet taking place in the Trinity College grounds caught his eye. Although the 15-year-old Dunne had no previous experience of athletics, he nipped over the railings and entered an open 440 yard race. After he won the race, earning himself half-a-crown, he joined Donore Harriers, with he and four of his brothers - notably Tommy - soon becoming the mainstay of a powerful cross-country team that won innumerable national team titles from the 1950s through to the 1970s. One of Willie’s best performances came at the 1958 International Cross Country Championships held in Cardiff where he finished fifth. He moved up the distances, and would win five national marathon titles at a time when this distance was far from glamorous. In the marathon at the 1960 Rome Olympics, he had fallen victim to the heat, but still managed to make it to the finish. His best time of 2 hours 17 minutes would come in 1972 when Willie was 39. Seven years later, he would win the M45 category at the Boston Marathon. By this time, Willie, a silversmith by trade, was looking after the next generation of Donore athletes, always ready with coaching advice or the encouraging word. His main form of transport was his trusty bicycle and until quite recently he was still cycling regularly to the Donore Harriers clubhouse in Chapelizod. May this true legend of Irish distance running rest in peace.