Grassroots Club of the Week: Civil Service Harriers
Civil Service Harriers & Athletic Club has a great history and a very popular road race, writes Frank Greally
Civil Service Harriers & Athletic Club is Ireland's oldest athletics club, dating back to 1867.
The club was re-formed in 1925 - after the Civil War - under the leadership of legendary coach Frank Duffy and Steve Hutton. For many years since then the club has been located in the Phoenix Park - just off the main road, opposite Dublin Zoo and beside the cricket ground.
Go up to the park from the Park Gate street entrance at 7pm on any Tuesday or Thursday evening and you are sure to see runners from the club streaming across the main road and making their way at an easy pace in the direction of the polo grounds where some of the club training sessions take place.
The club has two very knowledgeable coaches in John Byrne and Tony Keegan, who combine to offer training advice to runners of all levels and abilities. John looks after the training for club members who are new to running and Tony sets the training schedules for the more advanced runners.
This is an old club with new ideas; a club that in the past produced a string of Olympians - John Lawlor, 4th in the hammer in the 1960 Games in Rome and Paddy Lowry, who competed in the 100 and 200 metres at the same Olympics.
Lawlor again competed in the hammer at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo and middle-distance legend, Noel Carroll, competed at 800 meters, an experience he would repeat in Mexico in 1968.
Des McGann competed in the marathon in the 1972 Olympics in Munich and Declan Hegarty kept the hammer tradition alive at the club when he competed in that event in the Los Angeles Olympics of 1984.
Another top athlete to compete for the club was Kingston Mills, who competed in the marathon at the European Championships and has as best time of 2:13.55 for the distance. Another of the club's marathon runners, Gerry Healy, just missed out on Olympic selection for the Sydney Games.
Civil Service Harriers & Athletic Club welcomes new members and is an ideal club for beginners.
The club's big annual road race promotion - the Frank Duffy 10, which takes place in the Phoenix Park, on Saturday, August 23 - is now just weeks away. This third event in the SSE Airtricity Dublin Race Series is again attracting a huge entry. It will be staged this year for the 33rd time and is in memory of Irish athletics legend Frank Duffy, who coached the club's Olympians, Carroll and McGann.
It is still possible to enter the Airtricity Frank Duffy 10 online, at www.dublinmarathon.ie.
You will meet a great variety of people at this club - including long- time members Willie Devine and Brendan Early, who at 84, is the club's oldest member and still a regular competitor in road events. Brendan rarely misses his Sunday morning long run of 8 to 10 miles in the Phoenix Park.
More details at: www.phoenixparkrunners.ie
Enter the Frank Duffy 10 at: www.dublinmarathon.ie
Chairperson: Brid Ryan
Secretary: Brian Corr
Treasurer: Owen McFeely
Coaches: Tony Keegan and John Byrne
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