Monday 20 October 2014

New facilities and hard work at the Mullingar Harriers

The club's officials have seen an influx of athletes both young and old

Mullingar Harriers members earlier this month welcomed Michael Ring, Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, to their impressive headquarters where he took part in a sod-turning ceremony for the construction of Tartan sprint lanes and long jump runways which are partly funded by his department.

Mullingar Harriers was founded in 1975 by a group of local athletics enthusiasts; many of them still actively involved today. The club was very fortunate in that Westmeath County Council provided them with a piece of land on the outskirts of Mullingar. On it they built a clubhouse and have a full-sized 400 metres, eight-lane grass track complete with a long jump pit, shot putt circle and hammer cage. The development of these facilities is due to the many hours of toil from club stalwarts like Bobbie Begley (current Olympic Council Athletics representative), John Mulvihill, George Bell, Ollie Gallagher and Seamus Gibney.

The improved facilities have seen a huge influx of athletes, both young and not-so-young. It is a rare occasion on which there are less than 200 present at training nights. Athletics is now one of the main sports in Mullingar and surrounding areas, with the town and environs now having a population of almost 20,000.

The annual Pat Finnerty Memorial 5K Road League, held during the month of May each year on the traffic-free trails through the woods at the beautiful Belvedere House and Gardens, is one of the most successful events of its kind in Ireland. The final event in the league will take place on Thursday evening next, starting at 8pm. Entries will be accepted up to one hour before the start.

Members of Mullingar Harriers are also fortunate to have access to both the cross-country course and the trails at Belvedere for training.

Since the Club was founded it has produced over 80 international athletes across a range of disciplines including two Olympians, Cormac Finnerty (Atlanta 1996) and Martin Fagan (Beijing 2008). Louis Kenny, a former Irish marathon record holder, gained selection for the inaugural World Championships Marathon in 1983 and Michael Lane competed in the 20km walk in the European Championships at Split in 1990.

Cormac Finnerty replicated this in Gothenburg 1998 and Mark Christie – the current national half-marathon champion – added his name to the list at Barcelona 2010.

The club has a very sound coaching structure, demonstrated by results, both in track and field and in cross-country. Club coaches Joe Ryan, Greg Duggan, Bobbie Begley, Catriona Duffy, Margaret Daly, James Carton and Mandy Dalton work effectively with the Juveniles and Juniors to ensure that Mullingar Harriers has a bright future.

The Senior and Fit 4 Life sections of the club have grown in recent times and members are always out in force for the Dublin Marathon in October.

Membership figures are at unprecedented levels for the club and success is being achieved at all levels and ages. Further details are available at the clubs well maintained, busy website: www.mullingarharriers.com.

COMMITTEE

Chairperson: Joe Ryan
Secretary:Margaret Daly
Treasurer: Tom McGrath
PRO: Greg Duggan
Child Welfare Officer: Nuala Moran
President: John Mulvihill

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