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Grassroots club of the week: Tullamore Harriers

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Founded in 1953, Tullamore Harriers now has more than 300 members.

Founded in 1953, Tullamore Harriers now has more than 300 members.

Founded in 1953, Tullamore Harriers now has more than 300 members.

One of the oldest clubs in the country is going from strength to strength after celebrating its 60th birthday

Committee

Chairperson: John Cronin

Secretary: Ann McNamara

Treasurer: Liam Hennessy

PRO: Michelle Mullaney

Child Welfare Officer: Anne Coughlan

Men's Captain: Adrian Martin

Women's Captain: Mary Daly

Last year, Tullamore Harriers celebrated its 60th birthday, a milestone that makes it one of the longest-established athletics clubs in the country.

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It was founded on November 13, 1953, by a group of 10 young men. The first chairman was John Dowling, who later went on to become president of the GAA.

The other founding members were Paddy Larkin (RIP), Noel Gowran, Brendan O'Shea, Mick McDermott (RIP), Brendan McDermott (RIP), Noel Houlihan (RIP), Andrew Lowbridge (RIP), Billy Dowling and Larry Fox.

Over six decades, the club has gone from strength to strength. Today, it has excellent facilities including an Olympic-standard tartan track, all-weather hockey/football pitch, gym, changing facilities, grass and tarmac running tracks, press box and boardroom.

The care with which the facilities are maintained have made the club a favourite venue for provincial and national track and field events.

The features at Tullamore Harriers are testimony to the vision and determination of the late Paddy Larkin and his committee, who have worked tirelessly over the years to keep the organisation at the forefront of Irish club athletics.

The torch is still carried today by the enterprising and forward- thinking committee, which is now spearheaded by club stalwarts John Cronin and Adrian Curley.

Tullamore Harriers has had many notable successes down through the years, with members winning national titles and proudly representing their country on the biggest stage on numerous occasions.

Pauline Curley, for example, was a member of the Irish women's team that won bronze medals at the 1997 World Cross Country Championships in Turin.

Curley went on to further success when she represented Ireland in the women's marathon at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Ger Hensey, meanwhile, was a silver medalist in the 60m at the 2010 Masters World Championships.

Additionally, Gordon Kennedy, who competed in the European Championships at 400m, was a substitute on the Irish 4 X 400m relay team at the Sydney Olympics.

Other leading club athletes include Liam Brady, James Mulligan, Dean Power, Darragh McNamara, Eileen Rafter, Cara Todd, Nicole Cuskelly, Jona Kalemi and Chinnie Izuchukwn.

Former club stalwarts include Mick Neville and Mick Hayden.

Tullamore Harriers has an active membership in excess of 300 people, and the royal blue and white singlets are a regular feature at provincial and national races.

Group training sessions are held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and on Sunday mornings.

One of the club's coaches, Robert Denmead, has been coach and mentor to several Irish athletes who have enjoyed success nationally and internationally.

His most recent protege is Paul Robinson of St Coca's AC, who looks set for a big track season ahead.

In addition to the club's own facilities, athletes also make use of the neighbouring Charleville Estate in the summer months, and the club hosted the 2013 Woodie's DIY National Senior and Junior Inter Clubs Cross Country Championships in this impressive venue.


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