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English tops awards bill

At last week's annual Athletics Awards, the top performers of the year past were recognised.

Mark English of UCD, originally from Letterkenny, was awarded male athlete of the year after taking a bronze medal in the 800m at the European Championships. He also took the gong as track and field athlete of the year.

Fionnuala Britton was awarded for her endurance performances and 400m hurdlers, Thomas Barr and Christine McMahon for their breakthrough performances over the summer. UCD's Karl Griffin took the junior athlete award.

A most deserving winner of the Coach of the Year was Philip Conway, who after making the Olympics himself as a shot putter in 1972, devoted himself to teaching.

The continuing stream of talented athletes in all disciplines - and not just the throws - from Belvedere College is a testament to his enduring success.

Those with long memories will also recall Saturday mornings at the late and much-lamented Belfield track where Phil conducted his weekly 'Hammerama', bringing on a generation of Irish throwers - among them Conor McCullough, Paul Quirke, Nick Sweeney, Patricia Walsh and and Seán Egan.

With hammer circles difficult to find these days, Phil has spent the last few years travelling to Dunboyne to coach.

Which brings us neatly to the Co Meath club which took the Emerging Club award. Dunboyne has the great advantage of its location - it is only five minutes from the new towns surrounding Blanchardstown.

It has responded to this challenge by developing a thriving Meet and Train/Fit for Life section for novice runners of all ages and standards, and an active juvenile club.

Fringes

In the past few years, Dunboyne has also used the fields it owns on the fringes of the town to host cross-country events - the masters last season and the forthcoming Leinster Senior Championships in January are just two examples.

Elevated to the Hall of Fame was Frank Murphy of Clonliffe Harriers - usually called 'Junior' because Irish athletics boasted not one but two Frank Murphys in that period.

Murphy was the inspirational middle-distance athlete of his time, with a silver medal for the 1500m at the 1969 European Championships and selection for the Olympics of 1968 and 1972 the highlights of a distinguished career.

He joins the select company of Ronnie Delaney, Eamonn Coghlan and John Treacy in the Hall of Fame.

Winning the Official of the Year title was Tony Ennis Meath club Fr Murphy's.


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