Monday 20 May 2019

Athletics: AAI vow to tackle cross-county issue

Ciaran O'Lionaird, Ireland
Ciaran O'Lionaird, Ireland

Cliona Foley

A SPECIAL think-tank is being set up to address the recurring problems with the Irish cross-country season.

Changes in the international calendar have contributed to dwindling numbers at the inter-club event which used to be the domestic blue riband event – but that is just one of the contributory factors to a range of problems.

There were a plethora of motions about cross-country at Saturday's biennial Congress in Cork, where it was agreed to deal with the matter by a complete root-and-branch review.

AAI president Ciaran Cathain, who was returned unopposed, promised that soundings will be taken from all parties, including the country's top cross-country runners, in order to produce a new blueprint, which will be discussed at next year's AGM.

Delegates heard that membership has grown 67pc since 2009 – from 29,000 to just under 50,000 – and AAI have targeted 60,000 by 2016.

Leevale AC raised questions about why Derval O'Rourke and Ciaran O'Lionaird's grants were cut to €12,000 this year when the average salary in AAI is approximately €46,000.

O'Lionaird made his comeback from a year out with injury when he finished eighth, in 4:03.64, in the mile at the Drake Relays.

An Irish men's team was third (in 9:42.83) in the distance medley at the Penn Relays, with splits of 46:31 (Brian Gregan), 1:48.59 (Paul Robinson), 3:01.99 (John Travers) and 4:05.95 (John Coghlan).

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