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History of Donore Harriers


from Donore Harriers website Donore Harriers was founded in 1893, in No. 78 South Circular Road in Dublin opposite where The National Boxing Stadium now stands. Soon it moved to the rear of the home of the Clubs first President Dr. Keys. Following that the Club was based in the premises of numerous pubs in the Dolphin’s Barn and Kilmainham areas. Eventually in 1948 it moved into its own premises in Hospital Lane, Islandbridge – a small modest cottage This was to become its home for the next 42 years. In 1990, following tremendous work by club officials a brand new modern Club house was built under the expertise of Cavan man and club Vice-President Matt Rudden. This premises located on the banks of The River Liffey and 100 yards away from the Phoenix Park is a wonderful facility for the club and for Irish athletics. It has been augmented in Autumn of 2007 by the construction of a 300m all-weather rubber based training track and field event facilities, located beside the club house and adjacent to the newly created Liffey Valley Park, built by Dublin City Council.

Early Years
The Club had its first success in 1896 in a junior inter-club cross-country race. In this year Dublin jeweller Mr. Samuel Waterhouse presented the club with a magnificent silver shield for a 10 mile handicap cross-country race. This race now known as the Waterhouse-Byrne –Baird Shield has been competed for every year since then on (except 1916) St. Stephen’s Day. It is the oldest consecutively run club cross-country event in the world. From then, the club went from strength to strength with J.J. Doyle becoming its first cross-country International in 1904. Later in the 1920/1930 men like twins Dougie and Kenneth Coard, Sid Daly, all Internationals led the club into a glorious period. After this Tom Hopkins, Shamie Banks, Frank Cahill and Eddie Hogan kept the flag flying. These were followed by Brendan Foreman, Tommie Hayward and Mick Harte, Kevin Maguire and Pat Haughey.

The 50s and 70s- Era of brilliance
The mid 50’s to mid 70’s produced an era of success in cross-country and distance running unequalled in its achievements. Under the superb coaching skills of Eddie Hogan, the club produced teams and individuals of outstanding accomplishments. Donore’s Senior Men’s team won the National Senior cross-country Championships for an unprecedented 16 years in a row. Many of the greatest names in Irish distance running emerged from here. The Dunne brothers: Tommy (5th in World CC) and brother Olympian Willie, Olympian and Record breaker Bertie Messitt also Olympic representativeTom O’Riordan, Olympian and 11 times World Cross-Country Championship competitor, Jim McNamara, the late Basil Clifford Sub-4minute miler and Olympian, Pat Cassidy, John Phelan, Tommy Redican, the late Tony Brien, Mick Neville, Tony Murphy, Mick Connolly, Brendan O’Shea, Mick Flood, Frank Grealy, Eddie Spillane and John Sheridan. Donore teams represented Ireland in the European Clubs Championships. In 1966 the men’s senior team finished a fantastic 2nd place to Portsmouth and repeated the feat in 1969 finishing 9 points behind the winners A.C. Dortmstadt in Arlon, Belgium. In 1994, the club represented Ireland in the same event in Bilbao, finishing 10th from 20 teams.

Soon the explosive talents of Eamonn Coghlan delighted the country and put him into the “superstar” bracket. Ronnie Carroll won The National Senior Cross-country title in 1985. Gerry Curtis was a brilliant athlete – 6 times World Championship competitor and Nat. C.C Champion. Gerry also won several national track championships over 5,000m and 10,000m and lead Donore teams to National Road championship titles. For a ten year period Gerry dominated road running in this country, setting several course records in the process, some of which still stand. In 1993 he led the club to the National Senior team title in the Club’s Centenary year, greatly aided by Noel Richardson, Ciaran O’Flaherty, Senan O’Reilly and Albert Prendiville. In more recent years John Downes has represented Ireland internationally and won The National Senior C.C. title in 1996. John has been the backbone of our senior men’s cross-country teams and has commenced training our athletes in conjunction with Willie Smith. He is the current Masters cross-country champion.

In the late 70’s coach Eddie Hogan also produced superb junior athletes and teams, many of whom represented Ireland. These included some of the most talented middle-distance athletes produced in this country. Several of their records still stand particularly at schools level. They included Ronnie Carroll, Ciaran O’Flaherty, Brian O’Keefe, David Lynch, Vivian Devine, Noel Byrne, Tony O’Reilly and Ray Gaffney. This group won many national championships at cross-country and track.

While the above reflects a strong cross-country and distance tradition, many of those mentioned also ran prominently on the track.

Introduction of ladies section
In 1982 a Ladies section was formed and this added a whole new dimension to the club. The club policy was to build up from juveniles to seniors. The first outstanding lady to make her mark was Valerie McGovern who went on to represent Ireland at the World Track & Field Championships in Stuttgart. Valerie also became the first lady to win the historic Waterhouse-Baird-Byrne Shield on St. Stephen” Day. Helen Saunders soon repeated the feat and went on to win the event a second time. Ashling Smith daughter of senior men’s coach Willie Smith became the first Donore lady to win a National Junior cross-country championship, taking the Junior Inter-Counties title. Gwen Stanley won the National U.23 cross-country title. Karen O’Neill won the All-Ireland Schools Senior 400m title and National AAI Junior title at the same distance in 2004.Today the club has a flourishing, successful, ladies section. Numerous individual and team championships have been won by our ladies.

Jolene Byrne became the first Donore lady to win a National Senior Championship when taking the National senior cross-country championship in Santry in 2005 and later that year went on to win the National 1500m track title also in Santry. Jolene won a silver team medal when representing Ireland at the European cross-country championships in Edinburgh and finished 14th in the World cross-country championships in France. The backbone of our recent teams have been Ann Curley, Fiona Mahon, Adrienne Jordan, Mary McDermott, Fiona McGann, Susan Kelly, Bernie Kavanagh, rower Sinead Jennings, Grace Kennedy, Niamh Murphy, Joan McTernan and Ann Woodlock. Walker Ann Gormley has been successful in Masters competitions at National, European and International level. Coach and Olympian Jim McNamara has been totally dedicated to the ladies and has had fantastic success with them at all levels. His cherished dream of winning the National Ladies Senior C.C. Championships is close at hand.

Ladies play a leading role in the administration of the club. Nora Lennon was the club’s very capable Hon. Treasurer for 10 years and Ann Woodlock served as Hon. Secretary for a number of years. Ladies are well represented on the club committee. For those ladies not too competitively motivated The Meet & Train races provide a gentle introduction to running. We have been very involved in these races and have had lots of success.

Track and Field Athletics
Track & Field Athletics has been an important aspect of the clubs history. As stated earlier many of our cross-country and distance athletes also participated with great success on the track. However our track and field athletes have brought great honour to the club down the years. In the high jump Dick O’Rafferty dominated high jumping in the country for almost 20 years. In 1937 he brought the club its first British A.A.A. Championship. He was later followed by the highly talented European Championship representative Brendan O’Reilly also in the high jump, who was selected to represent Ireland in the 1956 Olympic Games, but finance was not forthcoming to fund his air fare. Later in the 1970’s Jim Fanning won The National High Jump Championship and became Irish Record Holder.

In 1947 Jimmy Reardon won the British A.A.A. 440 yds title in 48.3 seconds. The following year at the Olympic Games in London Jimmy ran superbly to reach the semi-final of the 400 meters. Drawn in by far the toughest semi-final he just failed to qualify for the final. In September of that year Jimmy became the first foreign athlete to accept a track & field scholarship to The United States. In 1952 Jimmy qualified for the Olympic Games in Helsinki but again there was no money to send him. Jimmy’s great friend and club mate, journalist Dave Guiney was an outstanding shot putt athlete. Dave for many years the Irish record holder won several British A.A.A. shot putt championships. He was a prolific writer and was highly regarded as one of the experts on the Olympic Games Movement with fellow Donore man and outstanding coach Dr Cyril White. Sadly Dave died in recent months. Another wonderful track and field athlete of this era was Eamon Kinsella – a man blessed with a magnificent physique – eminently suitable to his chosen event, the high hurdles. Eamon dominated the high hurdles both here and in Britain. He also was a British A.A.A. champion. Eamon with Brendan O’Reilly represented Ireland at the European Championships in Berne in 1954 and in 1956 represented his country at The Melbourne Olympic Games. Galwayman Cuminn Clancy a man of magnificent stature, also studied in America while on athletic scholarship. His event the discus was to bring him great success in Ireland and abroad. Cuminn dominated discus throwing in these islands for several years and in 1947 and 1948 won the British A.A.A. discus titles. The tradition of Discus throwing in the club has been brilliantly maintained by John Menton in the last 10 years. John represented Ireland at the Sydney Olympic having qualified with a magnificent throw of 63.50 meters. John has managed to compete at the top level while pursuing a brilliant career in Law. He has over the years been the mainstay of our track & field teams, helping us to maintain our status in Division 1 of The National League. John also competes successfully at Shot, and has won numerous National titles at 56lb for distance. John’s success has encouraged other younger club members to succeed at the discus and shot. John in September 2007 won Silver in the discus at the World Masters Championships in Italy. The Travers brothers, and Neil Dagger have all won National titles at schools and juvenile levels.

For many years Donore have had a strong tradition of hammer throwing. Kilkenny man Sean Egan won several National titles and represented Ireland at the Olympic Games in Moscow, European Games in 1982 in Athens. Sean also has been a great servant to the club. The hammer tradition was maintained by the Linscheid brother’s Mark, Simon and Roman, who at one stage all competed in the same Nationals Finals. Roman won several National Senior titles. He represented Ireland at World Championships and at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996. His brother Simon has also won National Championship medals. Ed Healey has also contributed enormously to the club’s hammer performances. An Irish American based in Ireland for many years, Ed has also won National Championship medals and represented Ireland at International level. The coaching and support of our throwers by Olympian Philip Conway has been a major factor in their success.

For many years the great Eamonn Coghlan brought tremendous honour and distinction to this club. Eamonn was 4th in The Olympic Final over 1,500m in Montreal and 4th in the Olympic 5,000m Final in Moscow in 1980. He became World 5,000m Champion in 1983. Eamonn recorded the fastest time ever for the Waterhouse-Byrne-Baird Shield 10 mile club c.c. event – the only man to run under 50 minutes for the race. Eamonn showed his wonderful versatility by winning a National team championship cross-country medal with the club in 1978 and was on the Irish silver medal winning team in the World Cross-Country Championships in 1979 in Limerick. Indoors he was the undisputed champion of the world unrivalled in his mastery of indoor running, testifid by his fantastic indoor world record and his achievement in becoming the first 40 year old man to break 4 minutes for the mile. We have a large group of young athletes in the club- some very promising, both boys and girls competing with great distinction. There are many champions of the future among them.

International Athletic Meetings
Donore successfully promoted International Athletic meetings in the 1950 and 60s, but it was their re-entry into International Athletic Meetings in 1977 in Belfield that captured the modern public’s imagination. The spectacular arrival on to the world stage of Eamonn Coghlan and John Treacy at this time was fundamental to the promotion by Donore of International Meets from 1977 to 1983. During that period the club brought to Dublin many of the world’s finest athletes to compete in Belfield and Santry. See “Memories of Belfield Track” on this website. These were huge, financially risky undertakings by an athletic club. However the club and its members rose brilliantly to the challenge under the leadership of joint meet directors –the indefatigable Pat Mullally (Club Hon.Treasurer) and Willie Smith (Hon Secretary). Almost every world class athlete in the world participated in those meetings, which were held in July and which drew huge attendances.

Administrators and Coaches
No club can exist without administrators and coaches. Donore has been blessed with the calibre and commitment shown in both these areas. From the foundation of the club people like Dr. Keys, Val McDonagh, Charlie McManus, Pat Mullaly, Tommie Hayward, Eddie Hogan, Tony Farrell, Dr. Cyril White, Frank Cahill, Leo Lynch have been tireless workers for the club. Tony Farrell and Cyril White not only gave great service to the administration of the club but were outstanding coaches in middle distance and sprint events respectively. Both of them produced athletes of the highest international standard including Olympic. In more recent years with the demands of a new Sportscentre to run people like Matt Rudden, Pat Cassidy, Nora Lennon, Albert Prendiville, Maurice Ahern, Willie Smith Joan McTernan, Joe Rankin, Charlie O’Neill, Tom Byrne, David Hudson, Florrie Curley, Colin Moore and Norma Harnedy have been outstanding in successfully handling the enormous administration and building challenges presented.

The present input in coaching by Jim McNamara, Willie Dunne, Willie Smith, John Geoghegan, David O’Connor, John Downes, Maria De Lacy and Linda Murray is very significant and can not be underestimated.