Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Guest Post: CARRIGALINE HALF-MARATHON OF 1984 John Walshe

Tuesday, May 12, 2020



During the first running boom of the early 1980s, races over the half-marathon distance and even longer were fashionable. After falling out of popularity in the ‘90s, it is only since the noughties that half-marathons have returned to the fixture list, many of course now held in conjunction with events over the full distance.  

For a couple of years in the mid-1980s the Carrigaline People’s Half-Marathon took place around the Ballygarvan and Five-Mile-Bridge areas. As the attached report and results from Marathon Magazine of the time show, the 1984 event on April 1st attracted a good turnout of around 240 with the race up front featuring two Corkmen who were then at the peak of their powers.

Tony O’Leary of Leevale was the impressive winner, his time of 66:05 giving him a clear advantage of one minute and 21 seconds over Liam O’Brien from Midleton. O’Leary had just returned from New Jersey where the previous week he had had been the sixth scorer on the Irish team who had finished a fine 10th at the World Cross-Country.

O’Leary had gained that Irish representation with a fifth placing at the BLE senior C-C held at Kilmacow on February 26th where Liam O’Brien had finished 12th, 40 seconds in arrears of the Leevale man. But the most significant indication of O’Leary’s form came in between those two races when he turned the tables on O’Brien at the Ballycotton ‘10’ on March 11th, his winning time of 48:22 giving him the title by 16 seconds.

O’Brien’s main ambitions for the year undoubtedly lay on the track and running a half-marathon at the start of the season may not fit the textbook approach. But then that was nothing unusual for the Midleton teacher. The attraction of the first prize of a ‘miniature’ television might have had something to do with his appearance and, as events proved, it certainly didn’t do him any harm.

Over two months later, at the AAA championships held at Crystal Palace, O’Brien established an Irish record of 8:27.24 for the 3000m steeplechase – it still ranks him number two on the Irish all-time list. This qualified him for that year’s Olympics in Los Angeles where he reached the semi-final on the biggest stage of all.

Donie Walsh took third spot at Carrigaline and it marked a busy four weeks for the Leevale man. After a below-par 13th at Ballycotton (despite running 50:43), Walsh finished second to his brother Michael a week later at the Friends of the Irish Wheelchair Association Cork Half-Marathon. He then followed that up on March 25th with another runner-spot at the Cork-Cobh 15 miles behind Tony Ryan from Dungarvan.

The women’s winner at Carrigaline was Catherine Hourihan of St Finbarr’s in a time of 80:49. Catherine had finished third at Ballycotton (58:47) and over the longer distance had well over a minute to spare over Catherine Hennessy from Kilkenny with Mary Sweeney (then of Youghal) in third ahead of her future St Finbarr’s club-mate Marion Lyons.

Incidentally, equal first prizes for men and women had yet to become the norm as the female winner received a bicycle compared to the men’s ‘miniature’ television set!


Anonymous said...

Always interesting to read these reports, thank you. I think I would have preferred the bicycle!

Martin O Leary said...

Great read. Any idea of the route for the route for the race??