Where are they now?
Noelle Morrissey (Former athlete)
When Sarah Lavin broke the Irish schools record for the 100m hurdles last year, it was her coach Noelle Morrissey's record that she smashed. Morrissey set many records during her career but watching her athlete beat her time was just as enjoyable as doing it herself.
Morrissey's athletics career started in Nenagh when she was seven years old. Her father brought her to a local running event where she excelled as a sprinter. Her potential was noticed by John Quill, the then chairman of Nenagh Athletic Club and he invited her to join up. The whole Morrissey family signed up and very quickly became dedicated athletes.
"As a family we were quite successful at it," explains Morrissey. "My brother and sister represented Ireland and my brother captained the Irish schools athletics team. My father loved all sports and he brought us around to everything."
At that time there was a huge underage athletics club in Nenagh. Seán Naughton was the coach there; he was very experienced and played a huge role in the development of the sport in Nenagh.
"We were very lucky to have Seán; he travelled extensively looking at other athletes to see how they were training and racing. Technically, he was excellent. There was a huge amount of hurdlers who came from Nenagh and we were all very confident in our ability because of Seán."
In the late 1970s and early '80s, Morrissey won the British championships indoors and outdoors as a junior and intermediate for several consecutive years and was also a schools international champion.
She ran as an Irish senior from the age of 15 but when she was coming into her prime as a senior athlete she broke her foot. She suffered repeated stress fractures and struggled to fully recover. Eventually, she was forced to retire.
"At the time I didn't find it too hard to deal with because I was busy with life but when I hit 30 I was devastated. I realised I never got to have my dream. My whole life had been about training, I didn't go out at night because of it, I trained six or seven days a week. I was totally dedicated and that dedication probably killed me in the end because I over-trained."
After she got married, Morrissey moved to Limerick and got involved in coaching with Emeralds. She trains Sarah Lavin who is in action at the national indoor senior championship in Athlone today. She runs the Easons store in Nenagh.
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