Review by Colin O’Herlihy
See below for a summary of just a few of the many achievements and successes of Eagle AC members in 2019! Excerpts taken from Eagle AC Chairperson’s Colin O’Herlihy’s report from the club’s recent AGM. Thanks Colin for all the work in putting the detailed review of the year together!
In summary, it’s been a very encouraging year for Eagle AC. There were some great championship performances during the year and Eagle AC are now full contenders in Masters events at County, Provincial and National competitions. We also had the great honour of two club members, Ken Higgs and Alan O’Brien being selected to represent Ireland in the British & Irish Master XC International in Liverpool in November.
Before talking about championship successes in 2019, there were some other highlights that stood out for me, nothing to do with medals or times; we had Anne Murphy, Jacqueline Slyne and Niall McSweeney reaching the milestone of 100 park runs, Denis Carroll ran 100 races during 2019 and James Quinlan completed 12 marathons for the year, this latter one is not recommended by the way! So there’s plenty more to running than simply chasing times, although most people I suspect don’t believe a word of that!
It was another great year on the championship front, getting close to the total of 95 medals won in 2018, with 89 medals secured. The break-down was as follows:-
• 39 County
• 25 Provincial
• 21 National
• 4 International
The medals were won by 25 members, with 13 different members winning a National medal. The championship medals were as follows:-
In February, National masters XC in Dundalk, Damian Kenneally was a scoring member of the Cork team that won silver but a great achievement for the club was the M65 Club silver medal, secured by Ken Higgs, John Quigley and Pat Twomey. All three were also scoring members on the Cork team that also took the silver medal. A national team medal for the club is a great achievement and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Also in February was the Munster Masters Indoor track & Field in Nenagh. A strong contingent from the club secured 9 medals between them; Ken Higgs 2 gold & 1 silver, Neil Kingston 1 silver, Hugh McSweeney 2 silver and John Sheehan 1 silver & 2 bronze.
In March, Munster Roads championship in Dundrum, Co. Tipperary. Thanks to Tom Fox for getting a competitive M50 team out for the club, who secured a great silver medal. In addition to Tom, the scoring members were Tony Cambridge and John Sheehan, both of whom were also scoring members on the Cork team that won the silver medal in the County competition.
Also in March was the National Indoor Masters in Athlone in which Ken Higgs won 1 silver & 1 bronze, Neil Kingston 1 bronze and Hugh McSweeney a fantastic 2 golds, all great achievements in a national competition.
March, County Road Championships in Castlelyons. A fantastic turnout by the club on the day with 37 members competing. A brilliant team double gold was achieved in the M35 and M50 competitions. This would have been outside of any realistic targets a short few years ago. I want to thank sincerely the work put in by both club captains, Karen Bevan and Damian Kenneally, not just in getting a huge contingent out for this race bur for all their work as captains during the year, and most importantly by leading by example. The M35 team were made up of Damian, Mark Murphy, Alan O’Brien and Mark Smith. A brilliant performance by Alan saw him finish 2nd master overall and 2nd M35. It was also great to see a newer member, Mark Murphy secure a gold medal. We know we are very strong at M50 grade in all competitions and gold was secured by Tony Cambridge, Tom Fox and Pat O’Connor. It wasn’t all about the two team golds there were great individual medals, particularly for the ladies, with Anne-Marie Power and Anne Murphy securing silver medals and Karen Bevan a bronze. The men didn’t do too bad either, as well as Alan’s individual medals, Damian Kenneally was a great 3rd overall in the Novice competition, Mark Smith and Richard Piotrowski won their categories, Pat O’Connor and Pat Twomey coming 2nd in theirs, and Tom Fox 3rd.
May week-end, Munster HM, Limerick. Alan O’Brien out in a superb, and possibly overlooked performance, in coming 3td overall and 2nd M35 with a blistering 68:55. To put that into perspective, his pace was 5:15 minute miling for 13.1 miles!
May, County T&F, CIT. A successful day for the Eagle team, winning 13 medals in total, led by Richard Hawkins with 2 gold & 2 silver. Richard also continued a great Eagle tradition in the shot putt with a silver medal! The other medallists were Tom Fox, 2 silver, Ken Higgs 2 gold, Neil Kingston 1 gold & 1 bronze and Pat Murphy 1 silver.
Munster Masters T&F. Further success with pretty much the same team as competed at the County championships, with 8 medals in total; Tom Fox 2 silver, Ken Higgs 2 gold & 1 silver, Neil Kingston 1 silver, Pat Murphy 1 silver and Richard Piotrowski 1 gold.
August, Cork 10 mile road championship. Led home by a big PB in a time of 53:37, Vivian Foley was 2nd master overall but a fantastic win the female competition with Karen Bevan securing the gold medal.
October County Novice & Master XC. As usual Alan O’Brien just went about his business and secured a fantastic win in the Novice competition in what is always hugely competitive, XC championships in Cork.
October BH weekend, National Marathon Championships, Dublin. A fantastic and proud day for the club, with Aoife Cooke winning the ladies senior title with a brilliant performance of 2:32, placing her 5th overall in the international race itself.
Her performance anchored a brilliant senior team bronze for the Eagle AC ladies team, alongside Sandra Manning and Catherine Murphy, both of who ran great PBs on the day. National senior medals are a rarity for the club so we should be very proud of what the girls achieved. The men did okay too! It was enormously satisfying to win back the M50 team gold, a competition we have dominated in recent years and without doubt shows that we have the greatest strength in depth at this grade nationally. They were led home with a brilliant 2:51 by Martin Leahy, which also secured him an individual silver in the M55 competition, alongside two great sub-3s by Tom Fox and Brian Maguire. And with all that happening, Mark Smith ran a brilliant PB of 2:27, winning the gold medal in the M40 category. This is one of the toughest categories in running, with some huge names on its roll of honour so it was a fantastic achievement by Mark.
November County Master XC in Castlelyons. 5 medals were won in total, Ken Higgs 1 gold, Pat Murphy 1 bronze, with the M50 team securing a great M50 silver, made up of Richard Hawkins, Denis Looney and Pat Murphy.
As already referenced, it was huge honour to have Ken Higgs and Alan O’Brien selected for the British & Irish Master XC International in Liverpool in November. But not did only get selected but they put in two brilliant performances on the day itself, both securing podium spots in their individual categories and both scoring on the Irish teams that also medalled, with Alan on the gold winning Irish M40 team and Ken on the bronze winning M70 team. Well done to you both!
November Munster Master XC, Beaufort, Co. Kerry. And to round off the championship year, the ever-consistent Richard Piotrowski wins gold.
It wasn’t all about the championship races, there was plenty more going on also, the highlights of which were:-
WE had 45 finishers in the Dungarvan 10, with category prizes for Vivian Foley, Pat O’Connor and Richard Piotrowski in what is a highly competitive race. Mike Forder ran his first sub-60 and in a preview of what was to come, Catherine Murphy recorded a PB and first sub-70, with Martin Leahy commencing his comeback after a long injury layoff with a 69:08.
The Barcelona HM in February doubled up as an Eagle AC away day, with 13 members competing, nearly as many in the support crew and a great few days had by all!
In late March, online we were avidly following the progress of Hugh McSweeney who competed in the World Masters in Poland in the 60M and 200M.
March saw lots of PBs and great performances in the Mallow, a race with 1,500 finishers. True to form, fist Eagle home, in a brilliant 52.41, 5th overall and 1st M35 was Alan O’Brien. Tony Cambridge and Tom Fox made it a 1,2 in the M50 category and Richard Piotrowski continued his great for over the longer distances with 1st M70. Our mixed team were a very credible 5th out of 41 teams.
April saw an annual assault on the Boston marathon, with 6 finishers from the club, led home ion a fantastic 2:42 by Vivian Foley, 6th Irishman home in this prestigious event.
April also had Mark Smith showing us the form he was coming into, with a 2:33 in the London marathon, despite injury concerns.
Closer to home, Alan O’Brien and Derek O’Keeffe (1st and 3rd respectively) filled 2 of the 3 podium spots in the Great Railway Run 10K.
June BH weekend is Cork City marathon weekend. It’s an event that doesn’t usually attract big numbers from the club between weather concerns and the attraction of the Autumn marathons. We had 14 finishers, led home by the ever-consistent Vivian Foley in an excellent time on what is now a tough marathon course, in 2:44, for 1st M45 and a fantastic 10th place overall. There were category wins in the HM for Tom Fox and Martin Leahy.
Alan O’Brien continued his brilliant year outside of marathon running with a superb 31:58 to win the Courtmacsherry 10K at the end of June.
August saw the completion of another successful Eagle AC Summer Series with the Rathcormac Road Race. I want to thank Damian Kenneally again for all his hard work in organising the series and getting the troops out. 39 members completed the series, with 70 members taking part is at least one race. There were two very worthy winners, probably the two most consistent runners in the club in 2019, being Catherine Murphy and Tom Fox. It was great to see two new members claim podium spots also, Michelle Traynor and Daniel Dransfield. There were also category wins for Mairead Lonergan, Elaine Guinane, Ber Looney, Ray Harrington, Ruairi Egan, Ken Higgs and Richard Piotrowski, with another new member, Brian Hegarty taking the Most Improved title. Well done all! It would be great to see the series continue into 2020, it’s a great way of supporting some of the smaller club races in the county, for which the host clubs are always appreciative of, plus it fills the void left by the cessation of the Ballycotton 5 mile Summer series.
Early September saw the irrepressible Alan O’Brien go under 15 minutes for 5K when finishing 2nd overall in 14:58 in the St.Lukes 5K, followed two days later by another man who’s hard to keep down, Vivian Foley, with a 2nd place overall in the Dingle HM.
Mid-September brings the Charleville HM and a chance to put all that Dublin marathon mileage to a good test. Alan O’Brien produced yet another sub-70. We had 28 finishers in total, many sporting great PBs. Richard Piotrowski showed the great range he has, although known for track and 5Ks, he ran a fantastic 1:34 to win the M70 category. Sandra Manning also showed that her hard work in training was starting to pay off with a brilliant PB and first sub-90.
Next followed what was probably the craziest week of racing I have seen in a long, long while. Mark Smith runs a superb PB and 2:28 in the Berlin marathon and less than a week later finishes 2nd in a mind-boggling 1:21 in the Cork to Cobh 15 miler! Mark’s Berlin pace was 5:39 min per mile, for 26 and a ¼ of them – brilliant running!
Cork to Cobh saw new member Aoife Cooke romp home in the women’s race in what was a part training run for the Dublin marathon. Aoife ran 1:27, for 9th place overall but even more significantly, in the first sub-1:30 in the long history of this race. And a further glimpse that the omens for Dublin were good, Sandra Manning and Martin Leahy both had category wins.
In between Cork to Cobh and Dublin, our ladies captain, Karen, put all her training and hard work on the line in the Chicago marathon; and as usual, Karen didn’t fail to deliver, with a 14 min PB, coming home in a fantastic 3:12. Ian Roche ran a great 3:20 PB in Amsterdam and another superbly consistent performer, Derek O’Keeffe scorched to a 1:14 PB in the half.
Then all eyes turned to the Dublin marathon. I’ve already gone through all the medal winning results but this is not to ignore other brilliant performances on the day, just reward for lots of hard work put in. Some of the standouts for me were Ruari Egan’s brilliant 3:16 PB, followed just behind by Finbarr Lehane in 3:17. Dermot Slyne, having spent most of the Summer battling injury pulled out another sub-3, with Vincent O’Sullivan debuting at the distance in an excellent 3:07. The time was matched by Dave O’Keeffe, which was great to see after his race came to a horrible end, as Dave ran himself to the ground, close to the finish a couple of years previously. Gary Gibbons had a great sub 3:30 followed closely by great runs by Helen Cronin and Mairead Lonergan in 3:35 and 3:36 respectively. To round off, newer member Karen Kelleher ran an excellent sub-4, along with the ever-competitive Olive Dooley, also home in under 4 hour. Well done to all, including those I haven’t mentioned.
Mid-November saw a brilliant 33:29 PB by Damian Kenneally, for 2nd overall in the Thomas Kent 10K, with Richard Piotrowski picking up yet another category win. The day before, a man who seems to be getting quicker as he gets older, Mike McGrath ran an excellent 1:30 in the Listowel HM, for 2nd place in the M50 race.
Towards the end of November, Aoife Cooke showed her class again, blasting home in 21:43 in the Glenville 4 miler, with club captain Damian showing the way with a superb 20:55 PB to take 3rd overall in the men’s race.
The end of the first week of December sees the hugely popular Waterford HM. Another HM, another sub-70 for Alan O’Brien, on what is becoming a tough course, finishing 5th overall in a very competitive field. Pat O’Connor secured the category win in the M50 race.
And to round off the year, we had two podium finishes in the two big, competitive races over the festive period; fittingly, they went to the two men who led the way with times and performances all year long, Alan O’Brien in the Belgooly 4 mile and Mark Smith in the Togher 5K.