Irish running legend to launch Tullamore Harriers history book


Continued from page 72.

Tullamore Harriers has been steeped in life in the town and county since its formation in November 1953. It was formed in a meeting at Clarke's Hairdressers on William Street by John Dowling, Paddy Larkin, Noel Gowran, Mick McDermott, Brendan McDermott, Noel Houlihan, Andrew Lowbridge, Billy Dowling and Larry Fox.

The only founding member still alive is Billy Dowling and his famous brother John was the first chairman – while John became national president of the GAA in 1988 and gave a life time of service to the association, he was chairman of the Harriers from 1953 to 1959.

Three men in particular, however, were synonymous with the administration of Tullamore Harriers for decades. Paddy Larkin was secretary from 1953 until shortly before his 2006 death; Brendan O'Shea served as treasurer from 1954 until 2008 and Noel Gowran was chairman from 1970 until 2008. Donegal native John Cronin was chairman of the athletics club for 21 years until stepping down early this year when he was replaced by Adrian Curley.

The book includes profiles of the founding members as well as details of the club record holders and much more.

It is a warts and all book that outlines the various controversies that dominated life over the year as well as attempting to document the pivotal role the club has played in life in Tullamore outside of its core activity of athletics, through its pavilion which hosted weekly functions from 1972 until its closure in 2010, including a legendary Saturday night disco.

The chapter on the 1960s outlines how the club was suspended for a year in 1961, later reduced to six months on appeal, after a row at a cross country meeting in Tallaght, how they were embroiled in confrontation with Offaly athletics over the desire by athletes from outlying areas to run with them and it also charts the purchase of their Charleville Road grounds and a furious stand off with Offaly County Council over planning permission to build their pavilion before Fianna Fail's Bobby Molloy gave a ministerial decree granting it in 1970.

The club are delighted to have Catherina McKiernan doing the launch – a brilliant long distance runner, she won silver medals at the 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 World Cross Country Championships, she won the Berlin, London and Amsterdam marathons and ran in the Olympics in 1992 and 1996.

The book was written by Tribune Sports Editor Kevin Corrigan, it is in hardback and retails at just €20. It will be on sale at the launch and locally afterwards and an open invitation is extended to all interested people to attend on November 22.

Meanwhile the current health of the club was demonstrated at the Leinster Senior Cross Country Championship in Adamstown, Wexford on Sunday last. Coolderry man Liam Brady showed a fantastic return to form as he stormed to a very impressive win in the senior mens’ race. He was the first Tullamore Harrier to win this race since 1987 when Rhode legend John O’Toole took a title that he also won in 1983.

Brady also led the Harriers to the club team title for the first time with emerging young athlete Mathew Molloy (17th), Jason Donegan (19th) and Padraig Berry (20th).

Nadine Donegan was second in the senior ladies race while her younger sister Danielle was third in the U-19 race, having led for most of the way. In the girls U-13 race, Sinead Walsh was third.

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