Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: National Marathon in Portlaoise in 1986

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

National Marathon in Portlaoise in 1986

This short video clip below is of the BLE National Marathon in Portlaoise in 1986 and some Cork runners were mentioned in it. Race stewards weren't in fashion back then ;o)

John Walshe of Ballycotton sent on this short report of the event...


The BLE (Irish) marathon championship of 1986 took place on the Saturday afternoon of April 13 from Portlaoise. It followed a triangular course made up of Portlaoise, Mountrath and Abbeyleix. The line-up of around 90 runners was the smallest field to contest the national championship in 10 years.

The leaders up to halfway were Roy Dooney, Kingston Mills and defending champion John O’Toole from nearby Tullamore. O’Toole dropped out before 20 miles, leaving Dooney and Mills to battle it out for the title. Dooney had run the Hiroshima Marathon in Japan the previous year in 2:14:38 and was therefore the favourite. However, on the road home from Abbeyleix, Mills made his move and Dooney couldn’t respond.

Mills, aged 31, was a native of Mullingar but was working in London at the time where he ran for Shaftesbury Harriers, the club made famous by Dave Bedford. At the finish, Mills had over four minutes to spare over Dooney (see results below).

Trucks, cars and runners share the roads in the 1986 National Marathon

It was a great day for St Finbarr’s as the club won the team prize ahead of Raheny. They were led home by Rickie Burke from Whites Cross who also took the third individual medal. Mike Griffin from Fermoy, running for St Nicholas AC, also had a brilliant run to finish seventh ahead of East Cork runner Paul Mulholland with John Buckley and Eric Crockett also making the top 10.  

1 Kingston Mills (Civil Service) 2:15:58
2 Roy Dooney (DCH) 2:20:14
3 Rickie Burke (St Finbarrs) 2:22:09
4 Noel Grace (Deise) 2:22:43
5 Noel Hyland (Raheny) 2:24:22
6 Pat Heffernan (Thurles Crokes) 2:27:55
7 Mike Griffin (St Nicholas) 2:28:01
8 Paul Mulholland (East Cork) 2:29:11
9 John Buckley (St Finbarrs) 2:30:22
10 Eric Crockett (St Finbarrs) 2:31:50
11 Derry O’Driscoll (St Finbarrs) 2:34:30
12 Joe Cusack (North Ossory) 2:34:53

14 Jerry Murphy (Leevale) 2:37:05
15 Ailish Smyth (DCH) 2:41:33 (first woman)

20 Tom Murphy (Skibbereen) 2:48:52
39 Marion Lyons (St Finbarrs) 3:08:20 (sixth woman)

84 finished (26 under 3:00, 57 under 3:30, 75 under 4:00)

PS – The last finisher was Michael Wall from Tipperary who recorded 5:25:13. An old injury flared up, reducing him to a slow and painful walk and he was eventually over a full hour behind the penultimate finisher. Richard Gallagher, reporting on the race for Irish Runner magazine, told the following amusing tale:

“As Michael Wall trudged painfully through Abbeyleix, a burly farmer emerged from the adjacent Abbey Arms and seeing Michael in need of some encouragement, gave him such a hearty slap on the back as to propel him momently several rapid paces in the direction of Portlaoise. Moral of the story: it was indeed rare to see a marathon spectator hitting the Wall!”

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