This page is here for all to reminisce over the past glorious 30 years. Thank you to everyone who contributed and for always having Ennis Track in your hearts because this club would not exist without you all.
Reading people’s personal accounts of their experiences with Ennis Track has become a daily highlight for many club people since Rory Chesser’s story appeared on the website on April 19 th of this year. The heartfelt tributes from club members past and present have given us an insight into how the club has helped so many to prosper and become “the best that they can be” both on and off the track. It seems fitting therefore to give the last words to the man who made it all possible, the legend that is Gerry Hayes.
I Am Very Proud Of Everyone
“The wheels were set in motion on the 19 th April 1991 when I registered the club with the then County Board Secretary, Padraig Conlon from Tulla. The club was registered under B.L.E. & B.L.O.E., which later merged with N.A.C.A. to form Athletics Ireland”.
In the early days Ennis Track training took place in the fairgreen under the watchful eyes of Tony Hehir, Joe Carroll and Gerry himself. Around this time Gerry and his family moved from their home in Ennis to Ballyea. Gerry visited Ballyea National School to scout for new members. Here he discovered the Scanlons, Orla Coote and the O’Connells. The late Gerry O’Connell allowed Gerry to use his field for training. “The field had a drain running through it so to make the laps longer the athletes jumped across it. That’s how they became great Cross Country runners!!”
When the Ballyea group started secondary school in Ennis, club training centralised to Ennis. Numbers increased…more help was needed…Marion O’Loughlin joined the coaching team and Martina Hayes attended every training session.
Gerry recalls that the widely-held belief at the time was that Ennis wasn’t big enough for two clubs, a belief which extended beyond the county, and into some Munster clubs. “They gave us two years.” But Gerry’s vision was “to be at the top, to compete in National Competitions”. He recognised the great talent of this early bunch of athletes, people such as Orla Coote, Colm O’Grady, the Scanlon’s, the McCullough’s and the Dullaghan’s. Under Gerry’s coaching they began to win medals in Munster and National competitions. Between the years 1991 and 1999 Ennis Track won seven out of nine Clare Novices. But the first big breakthrough came in 1997 when the men’s team won the Clare Senior for the first time. Now people started to take notice and realised that this club was a force to be reckoned with.
The success of 1997 was followed in 1999 when Grace Eade became the first Ennis Track athlete to win a National Title in Cross Country. She added to this several more successes in Cross Country and Track in the successive years. Gerry remembers those training sessions in St. Flannan’s College with Grace and Brian Markham “running head to head, clocking times of 1:46 for 600m on grass. They both went on to win the team event in the All Ireland Cross Country that year. Grace finished 4 th in the field. Boys and girls raced together back then”. David Hehir was also part of this crew. He won four Munster Cross Country titles in a row during this exciting time.
In 2002 Pat Hogan, who had been a member of the Senior Men’s team, recognised the potential in the group of 14 and 15 year old athletes and said he would like to begin coaching them. Among this group were Rory Chesser, Brian Markham, Eoin McCarthy, Paul Walsh and Michael Maher. Another era in the club’s history had begun.
When Lee’s Road opened in 2005 club training sessions moved there. Within a short time membership had doubled. “People saw us training and wanted to join”. As the club thrived the administrative burden also grew. Gerry remembers “We were struggling to stay on top of the paperwork. Every document was in my back pocket!” The next step forward came about when Noreen Courteney and Michael O’Brien offered to help with administration. They joined Vera Dullaghan, who held the role of treasurer for 26 years, on the committee. They formed sub-committees and put structures in place to cater for growing numbers. Gerry gratefully acknowledges the role this committee played in the club’s development. The club was now well on its way to achieving Gerry’s dreams of National Success…..
Today Ennis Track has a sprinting group and a group of field eventers, thanks to the coaches who set these up in the past few years. “We always had sprinters in the club. Now we have expert sprint coaches”.
Gerry believes that having a good structure in place is very important. “It took years to get the structure in place that we have today”. He praises the coaches past and present for their dedication. “Everyone involved today has been spotted. You see who’s interested, who’s asking questions. I would never ask anyone to do a job I wouldn’t do myself…except computers!!” he laughs.
He explains that it is very important to build confidence in young athletes. “It’s all about talking to people, you explain to them how they can improve and you see if they take it on board”. Gerry knows at an early stage who has the potential to make a good runner. “You look at their breathing, their balance and co-ordination. You look at their aggression after two or three sessions. The ones who progress through the field with each session, they’re the ones you want to hold onto”.
Gerry is a firm believer in the importance of Championship Races. “Championship is what makes you. The results are recorded. They go down in history. You can run in all the fun races you like but it’s all about Championship. We should compete in every Championship that takes place. That will bring you on”. He recalls that prior to the Covid 19 pandemic the only time a Championship was ever cancelled was during the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001. At this time Colm Coote, Ger Duggan and Sean Hayes were primed for the All Ireland Schools competition but it was not to be…..
Another key component in an athlete’s program is diet. “Diet is so important. In our day we knew nothing about diet, I’m a bacon-and-cabbage man myself but I have seen the difference in athletes when they have a good diet”. “You feel better, stronger, you have more energy”…
And of course there is no substitute for hard work. “If you’re given a job to do you have to do it, no matter how simple it is you have to do it”. As everyone knows Ennis Track training is never cancelled!!
Fun times with family and friends
“My wife, Martina and my sons Martin and Darren have supported me all the way. They’re a very important part of the club….. It’s a twenty four hour job. You have to be on the ball. You can get a call or a text at any time. We had great craic at the races. Martina and Martin always came to support and help out. The big job when we got home from Cross Country was washing the muck off Martin’s wheelchair”. Martin has held the role of Competition Secretary since 1991. Martina went to every training session in the early years. She looked after the club singlets, which had to be taken home and washed after every race. She also looked after the registrations, which for years had to be done manually. Martina held the role of Registrar until 2010 when she handed over to Ita Hanrahan.
On personal friendships… Gerry recalls the Dullaghan’s, the McCullough’s, Frankie Garrihy, Tom Casey and Sean Whelan as “the people who stood by me through thick and thin…I looked up to them…I confided in them…they were the people…”
Gerry, the Runner
Gerry’s involvement with running began in Corofin National School in the 1960’s. Hurling had been banned from the school because of an accident on the field. Gerry, his brother Dermot and a few more formed a group who ran laps of the fields at lunchtime. He ran his first Cross Country Race,
which he won, at the age of 12. He ran his last race, a Road Race from Ennis to Corofin, which he also won at the age of 30. He holds a marathon PB of two hours forty one minutes. In his own words “I was just an average athlete. I was equally good at Road and Cross Country….there wasn’t much track in those days”. He attributes his running achievements purely to hard work. “I trained awful hard. I trained my arse off!”
When his own running days ended he turned his attention to coaching. “I read up a lot on athletics. I wanted to see how it could be done better. I looked at the whole structure of how things were done….. I hoped I wouldn’t pass on my mistakes to anyone else”.
Looking back now on a labour of love which has spanned seven decades and several generations, Gerry surmises “I am very proud of everyone. I hope I have done something to help people . That was my goal starting off. If I leave a person and they feel better, I’m happy. You can only do somuch…but if people take on board what you tell them…I would never tell them anything wrong”.
When asked about the future, Gerry wants to see the club winning a National Senior Cross Country title and to be represented at the 2024 (Paris) or 2028 (Los Angelos) Olympics.
Watch this space!! The best is yet to come!!!
I started with Ennis track 4 years ago when I was seven. Since then I have ran in multiple races at county, Munster and All Ireland level. This only happened due to the amazing support of my team mates and my amazing trainers Siobhan, Lorraine and Maria and most importantly Gerry. Gerry always encourages me and made me more confident in myself by putting me at those start lines. He made it possible for my team mates and me to achieve our All Ireland medals in 2019 something I will always cherish. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Ennis Track.
When Katie started running with Ennis track I was always asking my mum when will I be allowed to join. My mum said I had to wait until I was older and now I am running with Ennis Track for three years. I love running in races and most importantly meeting my friends. That is all thanks to brilliant coaches like Brian, John and Gerry. Thank you for taking the time to train us every Monday and Friday.
I joined Ennis Track a few years back. Thinking back on it now going from a couch to 5k training schedule to Ennis track was a bit ambitious to say the least. I remember the first night of training I was so nervous I actually begged my husband Ger to come along with me for support. I never looked back though after that first night. I have made such great friends and team mates running with Ennis track. My greatest achievement is competing in the 10 mile run in Kilnaboy in 2019. I remember the support all the way along that race from Gerry and Ambrose encouraging and guiding Lisa and myself until we crossed the line. In 2020 I had a baby boy and it was challenging to say the least to start back training again after losing a lot of my fitness. The easy option was to just give up the running. However the support I got again from my team mates and Gerry was brilliant. It was never said to me “are you going to go back running” instead it was always “ when are you coming back to us” or “I will help you as much as I can when you come back”.
In October 2020 I ran in the Clare castle cross country race a few months after having Pàdraig. For me it was a massive achievement just to have the fitness and ability to compete in it. I didn’t score any important points or win any medals that day for Ennis track but Gerry still stood and waited for me at that finish line and with a big smile on his face said well-done Claire. This is what I love about Ennis Track . It provides a respectful and empowering environment that facilitates female sport no matter what your life story is. It enables female participation. Enrolling your child within an Athletic club like Ennis Track provides them with a skill set they can carry throughout their life. I love been part of the Ennis track club and I am always proud to wear the jersey. Thanks to all
Fun with fast friends!
I first encountered Gerry Hayes, many moons ago, in the Fair Green while training for the Clare Community Games. Now, over 30 years later, I can see that the same energy, enthusiasm which fires Gerry’s “roar” hasn’t diminished over the years. As a result, I’m delighted that my children Maebh, Aisling and Ronan have the opportunity to be members of Ennis Track, under the stewardship of Gerry.
I asked each of them what they like about going to Ennis Track?
Maebh: Fun, making lots of friends and great coaches.
Aisling: Having something to look forward to after a long day at school, meeting friends and the nervous laughter before a race.
Ronan: Running fast and having good fun playing with friends.
We certainly realise how lucky we are to have a club such as Ennis Track on our doorstep. It’s safe to say that thousands of Athletes, over the last 30 years, have enhanced their sporting and personal lives by being part of the Ennis Track Club.
All children, regardless of their ability, are treated equally by Ennis Track. This can be seen at any training session, cross country race or track event where each athlete is equally supported by the coaches whether they are leading the race, in the middle of the pack or out the back.
Having our children as members of Ennis Track has given us many a great day out, be it a short trip out to the notorious Kilnaboy cross country course, out west to Cooraclare, or further afield to Nenagh, Cork, Tipperary, Limerick or Meath. My wife Siobhán and I are sure that these fun days out will be fondly remembered by the children in years to come.
Hats off to all the coaches and administrators for their hard work and dedication in providing such a great running club to the people of Clare. It takes many hours of work, from each of these volunteers, to ensure we have access to such a vibrant club. I would encourage parents of young athletes to assist in the areas of coaching or administration where possible. I have enjoyed coaching some of the younger athletes, at least one night a week, over the past couple of years.
At the risk of omitting a person, I would like to thank Gerry, Lorraine, Siobhán, Maria, Ann Marie, Brian, John, Philip and Martin for all the coaching, support and kindness they have displayed towards Maebh, Aisling and Ronan over the years.
Here’s wishing the club many more years of success!
Finishing Proud and Spending Time With Friends
My involvement with Ennis Track began in 2016, when our neighbour at the time, John Conroy, spotted my daughter Sophie running around the house “training” for the community games and suggested we bring her up to Gerry and his crew in Lee’s rd. Sophie had never shown any real interest in running before, and none of her school friends were in the club so I was sure this was going to be a temporary thing, lasting no longer than her fixation with tennis during Wimbledon, or soccer during the World Cup, but I was wrong.
It only took a couple of sessions for Sophie to be hooked, running was (and still is) her thing. She would train with Lorraine and Siobhan every Monday and Friday and then on a Saturday morning head back down to Lee’s road to run the Parkrun 5k. What stood out for us, as parents, was the commitment shown by the coaches at Ennis Track and the volunteers at Parkrun. The weather wasn’t an issue, hail, rain, sun, or snow these amazing people turned up, offering support and encouragement. Their enthusiasm for athletics was infectious.
Cross Country Munster B’s in St. Flannans, Indoors in Nenagh, Clare and Munster Track events in Lee’s Rd. and Templemore all followed and by the time the first race of the next cross country season finished in a muddy, wet, cowpat filled field in Kilnaboy we knew there was no turning back. Sophie walked timidly into that field, looking at her feet, avoiding the puddles and dirt. But going home, with a medal around her neck and 6 different colours of “mud” up her legs, she held her head high and splashed in any puddle she could find. Joy unbridled.
Medals were won but they were never the most important thing, beating the nerves, finishing proud, and spending time with friends was what it was all about. Ennis Track brings plenty of that, being part of a team, and feeling the support that comes with that drives you on. No matter where you are, or what position you are coming there will always be support.
If you hang around Lee’s Rd long enough Gerry will spot you and give you a job. I had watched coaches like Gerry, Mary, Siobhan, and Lorraine give up their free time in all sorts of weather to help my daughter develop as an athlete and felt it was the least I can do to help out. I started helping whenever I could but quickly felt that these kids deserved more, and if they could commit to turning up for two or three hours a week then surely I could too. As Siobhan and Lorraine moved on with their group of athletes, a new wave of young kids joined, and Brian and I took charge, offering some advice and giving plenty of encouragement, and hoping along the way that some of these kids will do well, but all will enjoy their time.
My son Leon has recently joined Ennis Track, and while Covid has meant that he has only got to experience one cross country race, the sense of achievement he got from that race will carry him through until we can all trek back up to Kilnaboy and the mud and muck again. The sense of achievement he got from running that day was matched by my pride in him and in all the athletes who put on a red singlet any day we get to race.
Happy Birthday Ennis Track, and Thank you Gerry and your crew for all you do for the young athletes in this club.
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Our Relationship With ET Started By Pure Luck
Ennis track – what it means to my family & I? Our relationship with ET started by pure luck.
About 10 years ago, my eldest, Ellen, was playing at the house of one of our neighbours. Her older kids were heading to their ET training and the mum brought Ellen along for a look. Even though she was under the ET age limit, Gerry said she could join in that night rather than watching through the fence. She loved it and we haven’t looked back since! In fact, in her 10 years with ET, other than been away for holidays, I could count on one hand the days she has missed training or an event. I now have 4 kids, Ellen, Joe, Faye and Oliver running with ET track and all are proud to wear the singlet. My kids have benefited from the dedication and juvenile coaching of Mary, Dave, Siobhan, Lorraine, Marie, Anne Marie, Brian, John and Frank Landy – And of course, the relentless, Gerry Hayes.
In particular I am so thankful for the strength and commitment within the ranks of the teenager and young adult group in the expert hands of Pat, Marie, Ita and Ger. I am 100% sure that my eldest is still running ONLY because she is a member of Ennis Track. In any other club, like many teenage girls, she might have dropped out of the sport but not in this group. This is a vibrant ambitious group that encourages these kids to ‘be best you can be’, and have fun making friends along the way.
Asking my kids what Ennis Track means to them starts and ends with Gerry. He knows every adult and kid in the club, always has a kind or fun word for them. Loves the fun and nothing seems to give him more pleasure than seeing 2 kids battle it out in training. And his roar – oh we all know that roar. It may be in some remote part of a X-country location or back in Lees Rd HQ running a training session, either way it comes with the same passion and velocity!
The kids have all made great friends at club, county and national level through running, and they feel that wherever they wear the ET singlet they are met with respect and an understanding of some level of commitment and talent. They know they benefit from this respect which has been built over the last 30 years by the coaches and athletes that went before them. ET is known as a club that produces formidable athletes.
My own association with ET started simple enough – holding the bucket at the gate, progressing to helping out at the famous Santa nights in the CBS hall to organising the fun 2KM run with other parents and somewhere along the way I moved inside the fence to coaching! I coach the very little ones, mostly age 7/8/9, and they are such fun. They can turn up with red sauce all over their faces from dinner 5 minutes before their training, occasionally wearing school uniforms or the new dress they got that day and can’t bear to take it off for training and there ALWAYS is at least 1 or 2 bathroom breaks in the session. The banter with the coaches is part of the craic – what a great committed group, including John, Brian, Philip and Diarmuid.
Lastly, I cannot sign out without giving a nod to the administrators behind the scenes – ET is a large and very active club catering for x country, track, field at every level and age – this needs some serious organisation skills so hats off to Joan, Carol & Margaret, Tracey & David, Ita, Maureen and Leanne to name but a few. Lastly, thanks to Joe, Michael and Maureen for the collection of great photos over the years.
The future of the Ennis Track I see is very strong.
Congrats Ennis Track for a fantastic 30 years.
Suzanne Deane – mum of Ellen, Joe, Faye & Oliver Mannion
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You’ll See Happiness and Smiles
Location: John O’Sullivan Park, Lee’s road.
When: Ennis Track training sessions.
You’ll notice a few things at the track.
You’ll see young athletes putting every effort into their training. Real, determine, honest effort, where everyone is learning new skills in running, jumping and throwing.
You’ll see happiness and smiles, whether it’s friends meeting up, the enjoyment of getting a good jump or throw in, or that feel-good after a really good run.
You’ll hear the sound of laughter and fun, mixed in with the sound of experienced, knowledgeable coaches giving important instructions and encouragement.
You’ll notice older athletes practicing and perfecting their events, all now making it look so easy, after just a few short years of progressing.
All of that happening. The place buzzing. It’s magic.
I joined Ennis Track 10 years ago, I had been running 5ks and 10ks in “middling” times but they weren’t coming down and I figured joining an athletics club would help me get faster. It worked.
I guess that led me to wanting to find out more about what training worked, so I began learning, greatly encouraged at every opportunity by Gerry. I then realised that knowledge and running tips I had gained in the next few years was of interest to other runners. The logical next step was to begin coaching and I’m delighted to be part of a team of outstanding and talented coaches, looking after a fantastic group of athletes.
Ennis Track has provided many great memories for me of training sessions, races, championship days, and shared experiences with great friends made.
Thanks for all the support and Happy Birthday!
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The Work Doesn’t Ever Get Easier You Just Get Better
For me, Ennis track is so much more than just a running club. Since joining Ennis track about 6 years ago, I have never looked back. From a sports aspect, I’ve begun to realize how incredibly lucky we are as athletes to be involved in such an amazing club from the coaches to the training. The emphasis on team work and how we can pull one another through a workout is consistently seen.
I remember my first day of running some miles around Flannans, petrified! But someone told me to take off my shoes and just sit in and so I did. Here we are, probably well over 5000 miles later still doing the same work day in day out. We are thought in Ennis track that the work doesn’t ever get easier you just get better. And that’s why I love Ennis Track – everyone around you is just trying to be better than they were yesterday.
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There really has been so many people who have given so much of their time
I joined Ennis Track way back in 2002, nearly 19 years ago now. My first Clare senior was out in Spancil Hill and I recall Ennis Track Ladies finished 2nd that day. There were 12 of us from Ennis Track in the Ladies race which was a great turnout at the time. I came on board at a good time as the Ladies Team went on to win the next 6 Clare Seniors after that. Gerry was, as always, the driving force ensuring we all committed to turning out for the cross country season in force.
My daughter, Aisling, started running with the Juveniles back around 2003 so again Gerry powers of persuasion got me helping with kids training for about 5 years. That time Lees Road did not exist – it was just a piece of woodland owned by the Council. My granddaughter, Alannah, has also run with Ennis Track so the Club has been great for all the family. I also recall the sports days Gerry and Martina used to organise way back and Martina doing the sack race and Martin doing the Egg n Spoon race. Gerry got everyone involved always.
During the early days it was a real family affair as Martina and Martin were extremely hands on. Martina came training to help train and mind the young Ennis Trackers and was always there at all the race events to help with all the many jobs needed to keep everything running smoothly and keep Gerry on his toes. Martin was also present at most races and events and got landed with many of the administration duties of the club re registrations etc. I know Martin spent so much time on this side of the club as there was lots of paperwork to be done before races once we left the county – he spent many an evening on these tasks with the boss keeping a watchful eye as always. Vera Dullaghan was another great addition to the Club who looked after making ends meet in the funding department. There really has been so many people who have given so much of their time to the successful running of the club from its early days – Gerry was never alone he had so, so many great hands on helpers all through the years.
Some of my proudest achievements include my first national cross country medal back in 2006 ran in Carraignavar in Cork and running against very seasoned Cork runners. I am also very proud of my gold medal in the National Half marathon in Athenry, Co Galway in 2012.
I also fondly remember our many treks to Nenagh and Athlone for the Indoor Track season. Our cold days out at Nenagh Indoor Stadium were always memorable as long as you were layered up for the long days out.
The journeys and convoys to the various events travelling with Gerry or Sean Whelan and whomever else they would be picking up along the way were always enjoyable and sometimes as exciting as the race themselves. We always had our toilet stops and food stations along the way but no hanging around! If you were travelling with Gerry or Sean you were guaranteed to be there extremely early and on time. Saying that there was a trip to a Limerick race and a road race in Lisdoonvarna where we had to join the race as it had already began – needless to say it was not Gerry or Sean who gave me a lift on those occasions it was another club mate – She knows who she is!
Gerry, Martina, Martin and all of Ennis Track has been always great to me and my latest glory was a Clare Athletics Merit Award which I received in 2019.
Thanks Ennis Track and here’s to many more years.
Marion O Loughlin
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Some friends will melt away like winter snow, but Ennis Track friends are friends forever
“It is not those who can inflict the most but those who can endure the most who will conquer” Terrence MacSwiney.
There are times when I am ambivalent to it all (running that is) then it hits you, coming off the bend, those runner’s endorphins like no other BANG BANG BANG!! It’s yours nothing can stop you.
As most of us know too well, athletics ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a process. A hard one at that, especially if you want success. In what is a uniquely individual sport, I have met many people (a lot of them Ennis Track teammates) whom have shared a mutual respect for one another over the years in striving to attain their goals. Although typically the hard times outweigh the good times in sport, the small wins are worth it – whether that’s a new PB or a good session under the belt with the group.
However, anyone can go out and run to get faster, chase down times, win races but not everyone is as lucky to pick up friendships that will last a lifetime in the process. “Some friends will melt away like winter snow, but Ennis Track friends are friends forever”. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s the truth. Some of the people who are a part of this club are a second family to me.
For this and many other reasons, I am proud to be a member of this club, and to see its progression over the years. I unequivocally hope that some of the clubs current and future members can have as fond an affiliation with the club as I’ve had. I’ve given myself plenty of reasons for why I could have hung up the spikes over the years but it usually only takes one reason to keep me honest.
And that’s the lure of Ennis Track club.
Pat Hogan recommended we keep a running diary many moons ago and at this stage, I’m only glad to share a few snippets from mine over the years.
Date: 11th of April 2012
- Mairtin Grealish is right just eat the f**king thing. Here Martin is referencing my lack or rather no vegetables in any of my meals. This quickly changed.
- Footnote: Desire, discipline and determination the three D’s.
Date: 26th of March 2013
- Faro Portugal 35min run with Jake O’ Regan found a track 10mins away from Condado (our dodgy accommodation). The Ennis track crew will arrive in three days.
- Footnote: I love the sunshine and the Norwegian girls.
Date: 8th of July 2014
- 21st birthday session, 400m 55 sec 300metres 39 sec, all set for Morton Games Friday night!
- Footnote: result win, time 1:52:18 pb.
Date: 6th of November 2015
- Dcu Sports grounds 4x1k off 3mins on the grass, with Harry Purcell.
- Footnote: I’ve seen guys get sick after a rep in training, never have I seen someone get sick mid effort and keep moving forward, until today.
Date: 10th of April 2016
- Phoenix park elite mile road race. Last place, rubbish.
- Footnote: Rory is going to be a daddy.
Date: 6th of January 2017
- Start running again. Four minute run to the shop.
- Footnote: did not run again until September Achilles injury of old has returned.
Date: 16th of November 2018
- Milwaukee USA. 35min run in Veterans Park along the lake front, cold but beautiful morning.
- Footnote: Watched the NCAA XC in Wisconsin with Niamh and her teammates. Incredible event.
Date: 18th/19th of May 2019
- Irish Milers club pacing duties Irishtown. 800m B race, 1500m B race, 1500m A race. Following day national league Templemore 800/ 4×400.
- Footnote: first time both men’s and women’s Ennis Track teams competed in the national league.
Date: 14th of January 2020
- Eamon and Esha’s wedding Goa India. Of course Rory was going to get us all out for at least one run, 30mins with the Chessers on the beach, a red sunset as our backdrop.
Footnote: there were a few beers before and after this run
They gave me the confidence to face challenges both on and off the track
It’s nearly ten years since I first joined Ennis Track and it’s not an exaggeration to say that it has transformed my life. Those first training sessions will stay with me, the mixed feelings of nervousness and excitement as I faced meeting new people and taking on a new sport. I finished last in every session but what I lacked in confidence I made up with stubbornness. I kept at it, encouraged by team mates and the roars of Gerry. After a short while I was holding my own and feeling like I belonged.
Competitions followed and the realisation that I was actually alright began to dawn on me. I was willing to give anything a try and took a shine to the long jump too. I became immersed in Athletics and as my performances improved medals in county, provincial and All Ireland competitions followed. The performances gave me the confidence and belief that I had lacked for so long.
In 2015 Gerry asked me to help train a group of juveniles U12s to U14s mainly. As everyone knows, it’s hard if not impossible to say no to Gerry! The thought of facing a group of kids was terrifying, but I realised that I could give them the same support and encouragement that I had received from Gerry and help them believe in their abilities as I had learned to do.
These past 6 years have been a blur of training, texts, tents, buses, competitions, medals, joy, laughter and some tears. From coming home hoarse after a long day at cross country to coming home freezing after a long day at the indoors in Nenagh. The highlights have been many but inevitably the greatest satisfaction I have gotten is watching athletes who initially struggle but persevere, keep training hard and eventually get the results.
Ten years ago I would never have dreamt that I could have achieved all I have. I could never have imagined having the courage to speak publicly to groups of kids and adults.
Ennis Track and Gerry Hayes introduced me to a talent and a passion that I never knew I had. They gave me the confidence to face challenges both on and off the track. Most importantly, they gave me lifelong friends and a second family. I will be forever grateful. Happy Birthday Ennis Track
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C’MON DIG DEEP
Fourteen years ago I brought my eldest son Cian to join Ennis Track on a Friday and on a Sunday he ran his first XCountry race in Kilmaley. I went along on the day and eagerly watched and saw how Gerry and all the coaches were so supportive and encouraging. I thought, wow, I want to give this a go, but I could not pick up the courage to join myself, after all my sister was the Xcountry runner not me! So 2 years later I finally did and what a great bunch of people I loved the training sessions, banter and hard slog that goes with being part of a team. The dedication Gerry put in in all weathers just kept us all going.
Then it was time for my first XCountry and yes it was in the favourite Kilnaboy, we all lined up I remembered being so nervous but once Gerry blew that whistle it settled. The field was a mud bath so halfway I decided to go the wrong way and was called back by our photographer Michael O Brien – Thank God, the race was long enough!! I also lost a spike that day as the mud was well up past my ankles and I heard this shout from Siobhan Lennon “DONT STOP I’LL GET IT” then there was a roar that each of us get whether we are at the top or the back of the field from the great Gerry Hayes “C’MON DIG DEEP” from that day on I was hooked.
My favourite days out are our trips to the Munster’s/Nationals, we’d all have a great chat and laugh and of course the pit-stop on the way home…
My involvement with the club now is mainly as a coach to a great bunch of kids. I started training them about 7-8 years ago. They train so hard and come to training rain, hail, sleet and snow. As a coach I am super proud of them with all their achievements from Counties, Munster’s and Nationals to see them do so well is the icing on the cake.
Happy 30th birthday Ennis Track – thank you so much for all the wonderful memories.
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Being part of a club will encourage you on, especially during the tougher days
When I started running with Ennis Track I was delighted to be finishing in the top 12. I loved being part of a team, which spurred you on. Where getting through to the next level all depended on the 4th person, so you would give it your best no matter where you were in the field, always trying to pick off one athlete after another. Because of the dedication of this club, the fantastic coaches, and my teammates, I have achieved great success winning All Irelands and International races. I have to thank personally Pat Hogan, Marie Roche, Ita Hanrahan, Gerry Hayes and my dad Ger Casey for their continuous encouragement year after year to all us athletes. Every person involved in this club wants to see you do your best, and actively encourage it. Why I would recommend running to anyone is, that personally it gives me the chance to clear my head after a day at school or if I feel down. It makes me feel fit and healthy in mind and body. What I love about cross country are the rough, hilly courses and the weather, because every time I run cross country it is always in different conditions. The best thing about track is that it is a quicker race, cleaner and there is a lot more field events to watch. Here’s to the next 30 years Dean Casey
I never thought that running would become my focus. I did hurling and rugby when I started with Ennis Track. They actively encouraged me to continue with all sports – that each sport gives you different fitness levels. Gerry Hayes was my first coach and it was him who got me hooked into running. I have worn the Clare Singlet, Munster Singlet and Irish Singlet but am proudest wearing the Ennis Track Singlet.
It was my choice to focus on running this year. I was unlucky to get an infection in my ankle which had me in hospital for 2 weeks and on antibiotics for 12 weeks after that. It came out of the blue and of course happened when I was gearing up for the All-Ireland even and uneven ages. I found it very, very hard to have to sit in a hospital bed, not be able to run, or be part of the team that has brought home gold for so many years. I was gutted. I then had to learn to be patient, because even though my mind was racing to be on the starting line, my body needed time to heal. Pat Hogan was super here because he made sure that my training sessions reflected the time it would need to return to 100%. Running is not always about the competition, it is also about listening to when you need to ease up a bit as well.
Running with the crew in Ennis Track, no matter their age is great. We have a laugh and it makes time fly. Being part of a club will encourage you on, especially during the tougher days. Thank you to all involved in Ennis Track and I look forward to being part of the next 30 years. Dylan Casey
As a father I got involved with Ennis Track by accident, when one day while dropping Dylan and Dean to training, a very persuasive Gerry Hayes sent me over to help out Marie Roche. I still help out to this day under the tutelage of Mr Pat Hogan, where we have gone from the early days of 2 sessions a week to 6 sessions a week.
Being part of the Ennis Track coaching team enriches my life. No matter the ability of the athlete there is always a session planned out for them, to encourage their growth. Nothing makes me happier than seeing them achieve their personal goals, no matter what level they are at. Running has taken me all over Ireland and further afield, where I have witness some spectacular performances by our athletes continuing the great traditions of the club. I also want to thank Dylan and Dean for their dedication and love of running – They are the reason I am with these great people and club. Here’s to another 30 years of planes, trains and automobile journeys with the coaches and athletes of Ennis Track. Ger Casey
My favourite part of Cross Country is, during each race I have been to, I go to the farthest corner of the field, the lonely spot to cheer not just Ennis Track on, but all the athletes. And I am not the only person to do this. I am in awe of the determination, resilience and strength it takes to do these tough races in all weathers. Then without fail you hear this “thank you” back from some of these awesome girls and boys. How magical is that. It is a great sport that recognises the effort from everyone not just the winners.
I never set out to be involved personally with Ennis Track, but one thing led to another and there I was taking a couple of pictures and putting up a few things on website. I would encourage all the parents, friends of Ennis Track to where possible offer an hour to help out. Whether it’s collecting money, manning the gate, helping the coaches, organising an event, there is something to suit everyone. It is always appreciated and you make great friends. You just have to say it to anyone at Lee’s Road Mondays or Fridays that you have an hour to spare and they would be only be too happy. It is all the volunteers that have made this club the mighty club it is today. Thank you Ennis Track for providing a safe, happy, healthy environment for all our children of all ages, and I wish you another 30 years of happiness and success. Maureen Casey
Ennis Track has brought me on a journey that I would never have dreamed possible
“I started running 6 years ago at 41 years of age….With 5 small kids at home I wanted to do something for myself. Parkrun had recently started up so I went along one morning. I was so nervous. I remember saying to one of the volunteers that I didn’t know if I’d be able for it. I did it and I came back every week and started to improve bit by bit. I met Siobhan Lennon after one of the park runs and she told me I should join Ennis Track. I had never heard of them but I went to their next training session and really enjoyed it. After a few sessions Gerry entered me into the County 4 mile road championship and the Munster 4 mile which was being held in Co. Clare that year. After that there was no going back, I’d caught the bug!
That was the start of a whole new world for me…track, cross country, road… I love it all. I have rarely missed a training session since I joined. I love the hard work involved in preparing for race day, the crack travelling to races together and of course bringing home the medals. Over the years, I have accumulated County, Munster and National medals. While it is unbelievable to win at Munster and National level, there is something extra special about winning a local race. Winning the Kilnaboy 10 mile and County 4 mile in 2019 in Kilmurry McMahon, a few miles from where I grew up, are up there with my proudest achievements.
I have gone from strength to strength with Ennis Track. What started off as a hobby quickly evolved into a new way of life. Ennis Track has brought me on a journey that I would never have dreamed possible. I have achieved so much and hopefully I have a lot more to give.
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Achieving Success In My Age Category
Name; Tim Joe Buckley
Club: Ennis Track
Joined: 2018 Transferred from Donoughmore A.C. Cork
Congratulations to Ennis Track on celebrating 30 years of success in all age groups from Juvenile to Masters in County, Provincial, National and International competition. Congratulations to all athletes, and thanks to the motivation and inspiration of the outstanding coaches and assistant coaches, whose wisdom and technical knowledge of each event is 100% professional in track, field and cross country, etc.
My running career began in the 1980’s with the running and marathon boom. Charlie Haughey was Minister of Health, and he advised the nation to be active and healthy through walking, jogging and running. My first marathon was in 1983 in a time of 3.25. My last and 30th was in 2012 in a time of 3.17, 3rd 0-60. My fastest time over the distance was 2.52, four under 3 hours.
My former club hosts an annual 7mile road race since 1983, and also hosted County, Provisional and National NACAI events. Athletics Ireland was formed in 2000. In 2002 Donoughmore A.C. hosted Nat Inter Counties XCountry on Nov24th. Senior Men won by Seamus Power. Boys u-11 Liam Markham a National Title. In boys U-11 were Daragh Chesser and Damien Landers.
Brian Markam ran in boys U-15 , Rory Chesser Boys U-17. Many other club athletes competed, I can give copy of full results if anyone would like to get them.
I am fortunate to have known and competed against Sean Whelan over the years. We have had many battles on Cork roads over 10 mile and half marathon distance. Little did I think back then that I would become a club mate, he is a true, wonderful friend and motivator to me.
Gerry and all Master athletes are so welcoming and encouraging, gently but positively they have me running cross country again, and the big challenge indoor and outdoor track. I am enjoying it immensely, achieving success in my age category, and hopefully for many more years.
Congrats again to Ennis Track.
Yours in Sport,
T J B
I Was Fifty Shades Of White Afterwards
I remember 2009, my son Dylan, was mad to join ET as Cathal O’Brien was a member and of course Dylan wanted to be too! So off he went. I had ran when I was younger and the seed was planted…will I give running another go? So, I ran the Clare 10km 2010, I did it in about 47/48mins, thought I was the bees knees altogether ha-ha! I got Gerry’s number from somewhere and I rang him to tell him how great I was and could I join…mortified now when I think about it!! Anyway off I toddled to Lees Road and joined in the sessions. At the time I ran twice a week, Tue & Thurs, and wasn’t able to wag the rest of the week! The sessions were tough, but my new club mates pushed me on.
My first cross country race in 2010 was in Newmarket on Fergus, just outside the village on the left hand side, the first and last time it was there since I joined the club. Oh my God was it some shock to the system! The route was a zig zag climb, I was fifty shades of white afterwards….but I was hooked! I have ran the length and breadth of the country for Gerry & Ennis Track. I have been to parts of Ireland I never knew existed, especially with cross country – County, Province and National level. I’ve loved every minute of it, the craic on the journeys, me then having a heart attack about wanting to get home after, as Gerry likes to wait until the absolute very end of any race for all results! There’s nothing quite like hearing Gerry roaring at you from some remote part of a course or out in the middle of nowhere on the road too! The worst course I ever ran was the Munster Senior in Limerick racecourse, I can’t remember the year, but anyone that was there will remember it!! I remember Siobhain Lennon gracefully passing me out, I felt like I was going backwards!! It was 8km of torture, but we lived to tell the tale!
One of my proudest moments personally was winning the Clare 4mile road Championship in 2018. I had for years came 4th or 2nd, so the year I won felt amazing, all the hard work was paying off. The hardest thing since this pandemic is missing the gang at training, the sessions, Gerry there through rain, hail or shine. Maybe we took it for granted before, but we will never take for granted again, being able to pat someone on the back or shake their hand after a hard session, or hugging Gerry or a team mate after a race! Some day we will have those times again, but at least for now, we have 30 years of wonderful memories with Ennis Track to keep us going until the time we can do all the above again!!
Happy Birthday Ennis Track!!!! xxxx
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Hon the track!
I started running with Ennis Track in 2011 when I was 11 or 12. I did a lot of sports when I was young, but there was never much on during the winter and there was a few from our primary school class in the club so myself and Donal went down to give it a try. We started out training with Gerry Mondays and Friday evenings.
I remember my first race on the old course in Cooraclare in the Clare B’s, I came 13 th missing out on the top 12 medals I was bulling. We kept up training with Gerry for 2 years and then joined Pat’s group in Flannan’s. We have stuck at it since and the years have flown by, there have been countless races, trips, camps since. Being part of Ennis Track and has brought me the length and breadth of the country, abroad numerous times and have had so many great experiences.
I have made so many great friends along the way. Competing for ET teaches you a lot, you feel the nerves, the adrenaline, the PAIN that comes with racing, bringing lots of good days and plenty of bad ones too. My proudest achievements have been winning individual and team medals at national competitions and getting to represent my country running abroad.
Running is a tough sport especially as you get older but getting to throw on the red and white singlet and be part of a great club with great people is a pleasure. Hon the track!
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Gerry You Are A Legend
To Gerry and all the Ennis track team, thank you for welcoming us blow-ins with open arms! Myself and our two kids got involved with Ennis Track in 2019 after a life changing decision to relocate from the East.
It immediately became evident that this was a vibrant athletic club with coaches and mentors totally dedicated to their members no matter what the age or ability. Our kids since joining have felt part of a team and most importantly have fun in training and competitions, which we feel is an invaluable experience in their overall development.
Gerry, you are a legend and the anchor of a great club – your enthusiasm and encouragement is infectious. There’s no doubting that Ennis track will continue to go from strength to strength with you at the helm. We look forward to many more happy and successful years ahead. Happy 30th birthday Ennis Track.
The Keane family
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The Tent Offers Great Sanctuary On Wet & Windy Days
My first association with Ennis Track goes back almost 20 years, when a walk in the Fair Green was interrupted by the distinctive and determined voice of Gerry Hayes. I had no idea who he was but I immediately thought that this man was seriously dedicated and knew what he was doing. Just the man to knock the corners out of my eldest child, Eoin. And, there started a long and fantastic relationship with Gerry, Ennis Track and so many other people who are part of this large family of athletes. Over the years all of the family has taken part in the cross country, Eoin got involved in throwing, Mia and Emer ran various track distances and Mark has become a dedicated 1500-5000 m runner. However, the participation is only part of the Ennis Track experience.
For the big events – Munster and All Irelands, everyone is expected to lend a hand with the arrangements. In the days before “WhatsApp” and online systems, many trees were felled for paper notices, timetables and advisory sheets warning athletes to bring enough food and dry clothes to last a week! Cross Country events in particular are not for the faint hearted as they always take part in winter and everyone has to be prepared for all weather possibilities. Locations are often remote and facilities are always sparse, to say the least. In many ways these events are character builders as anyone who can function in Cross Country will have no problem performing in the more refined conditions on the track.
The morning of a Munster or All Ireland Cross Country is always a bit tense. With a 5.30 am start there is always the possibility of a sleep in and while this is rare it is always in the back of everyone’s mind. Gerry is the man to get the bus and is always a bit tense as people arrive at the West County for the early start to West Cork, Tipperary or Waterford. There is little time to spare and late comers will be left looking at the back of the bus at it heads for Limerick!
Once the sleepy heads have been counted, the regular passengers assume their seats. Ger Casey is the man for the exact directions to the course so he has to be near the driver. Gerry Hayes and Pat Hogan just behind him, to keep an eye on proceedings. Marie Roche and myself always have the same seats up front, where we have a few necessary items in case of emergencies. On these long journeys, many a discussion is had, national problems solved and all the local gossip covered!
The first stop is always the cause of some discussion as it has to be strategically placed to give everyone a break but also it cannot last too long as Gerry is anxious to get to the course in good time. The weather and possible condition of the course are constant topics and always a concern for athletes and coaches. Excitement mounts as we approach the venue and as race numbers are given out the athletes gather their gear and head for the “Ennis Track tent”! The location of the tent has been carefully chosen by Gerry and offers great sanctuary to all on wet and windy days.
After initial excitement , things begin to quieten down as athletes begin to prepare. Maureen Casey taking the team photos is often the only sound. This is a very important job which we especially recognise as we look back over the years. In the past this job has been done by Michael O’ Brien and Joe Deasy and as a result be have a great record of past trips and successes
As start time approaches Gerry issues some last mintute instruction for the Cross Country teams and then he disappears to a distant corner off the field where he will stay until the very last race is finished and will shout his type of “encouragement” to every ET athlete. The coaches will have covered the course many times as the athletes complete the various circuits. The day flies bye and when it’s over we begin the tidying up. The tent comes down but there is always a full bag of gear whose owners have abandoned! Hopefully the owner and gear will be reconciled on the bus later. Medals are collected without too much fuss or fanfare as everyone is tired and getting hungry at this stage. We hit for home and look forward to a great highlight of the day which is the stop at Supermacs or similar outlet! Healthy eating is important but at the end of a long day the burger and chips taste great!
We arrive back at the west county late in the evening, sometimes very late. All are tired after a long day but mostly in good spirits. Goodbyes and well done are said to all our athletes but we all know the show goes on and we will meet up again the next day and start training for the next country day out which might mean an even longer trip to the All- Irelands! Sure, how would we pass the winter without these days out!
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Remembering that the body can achieve what the mind can conceive
30 years ago, when I was in my mid-teens, I was an active member of Ennis Track, turning up in all kinds of weather for the midweek training sessions to join with friends as we looked to improve and hopefully perform well in whatever race was coming up that weekend. At that age, I didn’t think much about it, got the head down, did the session and hoped it was good enough to make the team or do well on the day. I was an average runner who also did some field events. We were all treated the same by Gerry Hayes who was always positive around potential. It was about friendship, craic, doing something that made you feel good (and that you were half good at) and pushing to see what limits the body had. Most of all it was about the making the team for the trips up and down the country and the fun on the bus journeys there and back.
When I headed off to college, I drifted away from athletics to pursue other passions. Looking back now, with hopefully a little bit of maturity, I can say with some certainty that those cold, wet slogs in the muck, track and road had a significant influence on my life after athletics. Ennis Track and those evenings in the Fairgreen thought me discipline, respect, commitment, importance of a work ethic and a belief that everyone has unlimited potential. To get good at something you have to work hard and persevere whilst remembering that the body can achieve what the mind can conceive. At the time I didn’t understand or appreciate that I was being schooled in these areas – I just thought it was about the training and competing. On reflection, each and every child that was or is part of Ennis Track has probably benefited in the same way. The mentoring from so many extraordinary coaches helped developed individuals as people, whilst also producing some extraordinary talent and results for the club down through the years. The Ennis Track coaches volunteered their time and energy as they worked on the science and art of coaching to get the best out of their athletes both on and off the track.
In the last few years, I have started to run again and only rejoined Ennis Track last year after too long an absence. Occasionally, when I put on my runners and hit the road, the run brings me back to my youth with a fondness that is hard to explain. It’s like hearing a favorite song from when you were younger or a smell that brings you back to a special time in your life. It’s magical. Thank you Ennis Track for that feeling and those memories. I haven’t put on the Ennis Track singlet since rejoining (due to Covid-19), but look forward to doing so with pride when the time comes. Keith Butler
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COVID will pass. Life will go on. Ennis Track gets stronger every year
I’m in the club about 15 years. As a former thrower who became a coach, I wasn’t sure how throwing and jumping would appeal to others. Club President Gerry Hayes welcomed me in and has always encouraged me to get others active in field events too. He fully embraces ‘track and field’.
The National League 2019 is my answer to the question posed; what is your favourite memory of the club ? Brian Murphy had been the driving force behind a Clare county team that had competed in the National League for a few years. In 2013 we made the final and came 3rd in Division 1. In 2014 we went one better and came 2nd. Promoted to the Premier League ! The following year we didn’t make the final of the National League though and we took a break and didn’t enter a team again for a couple of years. So in 2019 I suggested that we should enter the League again. This time our own Ennis Track team. Two teams: men’s and women’s. Close to 40 club athletes took part over The preliminary two rounds in Templemore and Athlone, entering athletes across almost all events.
We had young athletes, masters athletes, some national champions, some international athletes, some field events specialists and all having a go to get points for the club. For the team. For each other. As a throws and field events coach, it was great to watch everyone embrace those field events and see how they contributed valuable points to the team’s final points tally. Great for our track athletes and coaches to see the huge contribution that was made by the sprinters, the hurdlers, the throwers and the jumpers, many of whom have won national titles too and also represented Ireland in recent years.
Our society and our sport is changing. It’s becoming diverse. Just as the world outside Ennis is. It’s becoming multi-ethnic and multicultural. We worship in different faiths, we are people of all sorts of colours and many work, cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
Which is why the efforts of Ennis Track in the National League in 2019 stands out as a special memory. We were a team. We talked and planned and worked together. We communicated. We argued. We laughed. We cheered each other on. We commiserated with each other if an event didn’t go well. We hugged each other when we had success. We captured the very essence of athletics and sport. We showed ourselves, each other, our familie’s and onlookers, that sport is good. Most of all we had fun.
The ladies team narrowly missed making the final. They were so close. The men’s team got to the final and came 3rd, just missing the cut to get into the Premier League the following year. Taking into account that there was a county team in the Premier League the same year, that meant that we were one of the top 8 athletic clubs across all track and field in Ireland that year.
A special thanks to the field events coaches over many years in hurdles, sprints, long, high and triple jump and throws, whose efforts saw effect that year. Michael O’Brien, John Murphy, Martin Curley, Rianne McHugh, Brian Sheedy, Mary Cahill, Jim Donnellan, Marion O’Loughlin, Gerry Hayes himself, Eoin Hanrahan, Marie Keane, Alex Conway to name a few.
COVID will pass. Life will go on. Ennis Track gets stronger every year. Juvenile athletes become eligible for the league at 16 years of age. They’ll be ambitious. They’ll be ready and able. And when the time comes we’ll have more than one minibus going to league. And we’ll have two teams, ladies and men’s, together running, jumping and throwing their way to the National League Final. It will be another part of our competitive effort to build the club so it’s athletes can reach elite and international championship level. Onwards and upwards. Maybe try to win the damn thing and represent Ireland. Why not !!!???
Womens Team Jessica Jzgielska 100m, 200m, 4X100 Relay; Jo Keane 400m, 4X100m Relay, 4X400m Relay; Mary Cahill 800m, Javelin, High Jump, 4X400m Relay; Roise Ui Lachtain 1500m; Laura Healy 2000m Steeplechase, 4X400m Relay; Marie Carey, Team Captain 2000m Walk; Chisom Ugwueru Long Jump, Triple Jump, 110m Hurdles, 4X100m Relay; Ann-Marie Connellan 3000m, 4X400m Relay; Shanice Benson Shot, Discus; Grace Eade 4X100m Relay; Aisling Power 800m; Siobhan Gallagher 2000m walk; Zara Deasey High Jump
Least Favourite – Anywhere Flat
Grace joined Ennis Track 4.5 years ago as a 10 year old. It was the week before Kilnaboy where her love for Cross Country began. For us Ennis Track means friendship, laughter, muddy fields and Supermac stops !!
Grace’s favourite cross country course is the Limerick race course. Her least favourite anywhere flat !! Her favourite race Abbotstown 2019, though I would have said Munster Evens in Limerick that year.
Grace has been extremely fortunate to have 2 fantastic coaches in Mary Cahill & Gerry Hayes. They are a constant source of encouragement, advise and support, no more so than the last year. It’s been an extremely challenging year for everyone, but to have constant contact from them both has been invaluable.
A special thank you to Gerry Hayes, for having the passion and vision to create this club, that we are so proud to be part of. You really are one of a kind.
Happy 30th Birthday Ennis Track, here is to the next 30!
Leanne & Grace Rynne.
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All these running folks were so nice and welcoming and a breed of their own
Name: Siobhan Lennon
Club: Ennis Track
Time with club: 21 Years
Ennis Track Athletic Club, for me, goes way back to 1999 when I moved to Clare and my sister brought me along to the Fair Green to meet the famous Gerry Hayes who was eagerly looking for new members. There were much fewer of us in those days, and he treasured us all so much. I had absolutely no running experience of any kind, but he soon changed that!
Now here I am 21 years later and Ennis Track and my life in Clare go hand in hand!
There are really so many memories. Back in 1999 one of my first is the Ennis Track 4-mile series over 4 Friday evenings around Roslevan. I met so many local athletes at that event from those early days that are still here and running to this day. All these running folks were so nice and welcoming and a breed of their own. We had the prize giving in the O’Keefe’s bar of long ago. I won a set of extremely colourful bed sheets which I have to this day as a momentum.
My very first Clare cross country race was running in the cattle trodden wet fields of Kilnaboy in October 2000 and losing a shoe (no spikes had I then!!) and being shouted and roared at to ‘’ go on just keep running ‘’ when I stopped up!! (I was so innocent then!!) .
I have to say the muck, toughness, and pure hard work of running in cross country conditions has been my favourite runs with the club. Being part of a team, running your heart out at each race for your team, yourself and for the man himself has been very special. And the sheer satisfaction crossing the finish line is exhilarating – you never regret having run a race. At practically every race Gerry would be at some gap or behind some ditch and always had a word or 3 to encourage you on or too shake you up – he just seemed to know what kind of words were needed at that time and he was not shy!
My daughter has literally grown up alongside Ennis Track too. Many are the time way back that Gerry would keep an eye on a couple of the little kids (and even my dog) in the Fairgreen while we, the adults, were belting out 4*1000m …. he gave us no excuse not to turn up for training.
The Kilnaboy 10 mile was another favourite run for all at Ennis Track along with all the other local clubs partaking, a beautiful time of year in late Spring, in among the lovely Burren limestone landscape running back towards Corofin and then the two tough miles home stretch to Kilnaboy community centre where the feast of goodies and pots of tea would be waiting. Again the friendliness and the banter of the fellow runners and the supporters were a great appeal as was the lovely handpicked sports prizes in abundance if you raced very well. Back in the day it was an especially big occasion when Kilnaboy 10 was the final leg in the Munster 4 X 10 mile series and you got to meet all your fellow runners from Mayo, Cork, and Galway, Limerick, Kerry and Waterford clubs and beyond. Quilty 4 mile was another great run over the years and the chat and the lovely home baking at the end of a hard and windy run along the Quilty coast.
After a few running injuries along the way, and on Gerry’s powers of persuasion, I started to help train the younger Ennis Trackers back around 2011. I must say this gave me much more insight into the work and dedication that Ennis Track Committee and Coaches and indeed all of the Athletics Clubs in Clare and beyond give to young people in their communities. While it is a continuous learning curve it is really such a rewarding and fulfilling part of what I now partake in for the Club. It is super to watch the youth take up athletics and commit to participate and train to improve themselves.
What Ennis Track means to me is really about the people I have met along the way and the friendships formed. Ennis Track, I believe, is responsible for me finding a connection to a sport which is running, and it has become a positive part of who I am.
In todays, post covid world, just to stroll around Lees road and see the numbers of young and not so young athletes training individually and, in their pods, /pairs really does show what Ennis Track Athletic Club is really about. It is truly a valuable contributor to the community of Clare for all ages.
Happy 30th Birthday Ennis Track and here is to another 30!
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What isn’t recorded is how everyone grows as a person
Well, being asked to write about my time at Ennis Track in a short piece is a tall order. I have only been a member since late 2014 but yet it feels as though it’s always been a constant. I joined just to keep fit but before I knew it I had dived head first into running, immersed in the famous ‘Pathletes’ group.
Was it hard? Yes, but I absolutely loved it. There’s something magic about being in a group like that. It’s hard to explain to someone that hasn’t experienced it, it’s lightning in a bottle.
Did we improve as athletes? Of course, and with that came many great days and honours. But we grew as people. I won’t bore you with a list of achievements, they’re easily sought out. What isn’t recorded is how everyone grows as a person. They know what it’s like to be part of a team and carry their share of the work. They learn the agony of defeat and the ecstasy of victory. They learn life skills by cooking for 6 other people in a sweltering Portugal evening after a heavy day of training and the last thing you want to do now is cook for your housemates that you’re sick to your teeth of after 5 days, but you do it anyway. They build friendships with other members of the group, a friendship like no other because they’ve been to hell and back together, they know each other better than anyone else in the world. This can sound overly sentimental but anyone that’s lived it knows exactly what I’m talking about. All bound together by one invisible string.
There are so many experiences, races, people, journeys taken, doors opened that I could delve into further but I don’t have enough time or space to do all of them justice. Instead, I have included a video that I feel sums up what’s best about Ennis Track – friendships. This video is from the vlog series of the 2019 Portugal training camp and every time I go back to it I’m reminded again that beyond all the times ran, the medals won, the race positions etc. the real reason Ennis Track is thriving at 30 is the friendships that are made. It’s lightning in a bottle.
Skip forward to 4.59 of the video:
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Having Running As A Hobby
This is a short account of my memories and experiences as a member of Ennis Track A.C. When Maureen contacted me to put this piece together I pulled out the Ennis Track 25th Anniversary Book as a starting point to jog my memory. I realised that in 2016 I had been a member for 11 years, meaning that I have now been a member for 16!! A scary thought – where have the years gone?!!
In those 16 years the club has gone from being one which struggled to field a ladies cross country team, for the County Championships, to the Ennis Track Senior Ladies team of today which fields multiple teams, and has enjoyed much success at County, Provincial and National Competitions.
I was lucky enough to be part of this ladies team for a few years. We had great times!! A few of my personal favourite memories are of travelling by bus to Derry for the National Cross Country Championships in 2009 during a spell of freezing weather. If the bus journey on icy roads through Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Donegal wasn’t challenging enough, we were presented with overnight snow falls which led to us racing in snow!! We also had one or two trips to Lough Key Forest Park where we won the National Intermediate in 2012. Ballyhaise in Cavan for the National Novice in 2008 also stands out for the icy cold conditions.
I will never forget the nervous excitement of lining up at the start of a race in anticipation of what was to come, or that lung-burning feeling as you pushed to your limit from the start, the encouraging shouts from the side-line, and then the euphoric relief of crossing the finish line. That feeling of having raced your heart out and having nothing left in the tank is very special. It is what drives you on and gets you through the next training session. The most memorable encouragement from the sideline came from Gerry with comments such as “Start Working Now” halfway through a race -what did he think I was doing all along??!! or “Drive it up the hill now”. These comments always served to spur you on when it was most needed, he seemed to know exactly how you felt.
Of course as well as the highs came the lows. I, like most athletes, experienced injuries and setbacks but with patience and the right treatment these too can be overcome.
These days my role in the club is mostly a coaching one and it’s nice to be able to pass on to the next generation of young athletes some of the learning experiences. Ennis Track Club is very progressive and has achieved great results in Track and Field in recent years, as well as in Cross Country. A personal highlight in recent times was being part of the first Track and Field Ladies Team to compete in the National League. It was a great opportunity to try new events such as weight-for-distance and race-walking, to get to know young athletes from the club who specialised in track events, and to have a bit of craic while doing so. Points were scored for each individual event and these were then added up to give the team total. This made it truly a team effort. We enjoyed days at Tullamore, Templemore and Athlone, as part of this endeavour.
We also had fun hosting events such as the “Twilight Run”, and the “Ennis 10k and Kids 2k” in recent years.
I consider it a privilege to have met and got to know so many dedicated, committed and passionate people in my time as an Ennis Track member and to be lucky enough to call them my friends. Even during the last twelve months which were difficult for everyone because of the Covid 19 pandemic the club spirit has prevailed. Athletes have adapted by forming training bubbles and pods, with sessions being given and reported on by text and What’s App. I’d say Gerry’s phone has never been as busy!! Having running as a hobby during this time has helped us all by giving us a focus during the lockdowns. That said, we can’t wait for a return to group training!!!
Happy Birthday Ennis Track. Here’s to the next 30 years!!
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Upon examination of Webster’s definition of a club, many options are available. This is one:
An association of members joining together for some common purpose, especially sports or recreation.
Ennis Track is an athletics club, helping to promote running, throwing, and jumping for the people of Ennis and the surrounding areas.
But is that really a definition of our club. I would argue it is much more than that.
It is a large “Family unit”, a community.
Sometimes we have bandied the words “Band of Brothers/Sisters” about.
Special Forces use the term brother/sister when describing a member of its team. They will fight internally but outside the unit, it is the one for all and all for one mentally.
Friendships have been cultivated, developed, and grow strong within our club structure.
People are there for each other in the topsy-turvy moments of life, when we need someone else to share with, a problem shared is a problem halved.
Sport is all about the process, but let’s face it, results matter.
When we go online or look at the Sunday paper, that’s all we get, a snapshot, a result, first, second, third.
The journey that each athlete faced in toeing the line is forgotten, the training, the struggles, the mental anguish, life issues, the fun, all those grey areas that affect performance are lost in the black and white print before our eyes.
I have great memories of wonderful performances, both individual and team, and of course of poor performances both individual and team.
But the journey lives brightest of all.
Times spent in Pedro’s in Portugal drinking coffee, shooting the breeze during every warm-weather training camp.
Sitting outside in Font Romeu looking at snow-capped mountains, drinking coffee, and eating freshly baked croissants while away at altitude camp.
Listening to 20 versions of John Legend’s “All of me” that the lads had made while driving to and from races in the van, even the bagpipes version.
A particular relay race on the beach in Tramore.
Driving back from Tullamore from All Ireland schools and All Ireland clubs and the ritual of stopping in Loughrea for a swim.
Swimming on Banna beach on a glorious June day while again away in preparation for summer racing.
But mostly the overriding sense of positivity that exists when you’re part of something, working with people, achieving every day.
During COVID times, I constantly have to remind myself to stay positive, stay in the moment and now I am learning this from all the athletes I coach who have managed themselves wonderfully and are teaching me how to do the same.
Let’s hope the racing begins soon!
A new day brings fresh hope!
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Radharc ón taobhlíne
Thosaigh mé ag cloisint dea-scéalta faoi Ennis Track ar dtús ó pheileadoirí óga na hInse a bhí á thraenáil agam do na cluichí pobail fadó. Bhí roinnt mhaith daltaí ón nGaelscoil páirteach ann le clann cáiliúil Chesser chun tosaigh san iomaíocht i gcónaí. Bhí cuid de na tuismitheoirí ag moladh dom mo pháistí féin a thabhairt ann. Bhí m’aigne oscailte don tuairim sin mar bhí a fhios agam nach ndéanfadh a leithéid aon díobháil ar bith dóibh maidir le dul chun cinn sa ghort caide.
Timpeall 2009/2010 a thosnaigh an té is sine ag traenáil le Ennis Track. Bhí foireann iontach ann romhainn ag an am agus bhí go leor boinn bailithe acu gan mhoill i gCraobh na Mumhan agus i gCraobh na hÉireann. Bhí cairde ón nGaelscoil ann agus is amhlaidh a chuir na seisiúin traenála le Pat agus Gerry leis an gcairdeas. “Ná bac an chaid” a bhíodh go leathmhagúil sílim, mar phort ag Gerry. Seans iontach chun cairde a dhéanamh agus cairdeas a threisiú. Cé a dhearmadfaidh go deo an oilithreacht go Doire Cholmcille i ndeireadh Mí na Samhna 2010 chuig Craobhacha Uile Eíreann tras tíre na bliana sin. Sioc, sneachta,fuacht,anachain chun cuimhní iontacha dóibh siúd a bhí páirteach ann á dhaingniú ina naigne go deo.
Faoin am a bhí an bheirt óg, Fiachra agus Neasa páirteach bhí Conall ag bogadh leis go cúrsaí caide. Is beag a shíleas ag an am nach raibh na hoilithreachtaí lúthchleasaíochta ach ina thús. Craic ar an mbus ag dul go dtí na ráiseanna. B’shin céim eile i dtreo an neamhspleáchais don lúthchleasaí óg.
Gach duine acu ag rith a rás féin. Cuid acu ar sodar agus cuid eile imithe le cosa in airde gan stad ná staonadh ó shin. Thaitin agus taitníonn fós, an spiorad foirne a bhí á gcothú sa chlub go mór liom. Bhí sé sin le feiscint go ríshoiléir sna comórtais tras tíre ar fud na tíre. Bualadh bos macánta don té ba mhoille chomh maith leis an té ba thapúla. Nós álainn sa phobal tras tíre nach bhfuil chomh coitianta sin i réimsí eile spóirt sa lá atáinniu ann, faraoir. Bualadh bos go minic á dtabhairt againn ag comórtais faoi dhíon in Aonach Urmhumhan chun ár lámha a théamh.
Meas léirithe ar gach aon iomaitheoir i gcónaí. Tuiscint go raibh gach duine ag rith a rás pearsanta féin. Bhí an fhealsúnacht faoi fhorbairt an duine mar bhonn comthreomhar le forbairt an lúthchleasaí féin. Tá go leor cainte ar theacht aniar (resilience) na laethanta seo. Is i gCuar an Chláir, Cill Iníne Baoith, Clár Átha an dá Chorradh, Cora Chaitlín, Bóthar na Laoi,Baile Uí Ghríofa agus cúrsaí tras tíre eile sa chontae seo ag rásanna tras tíre agus ócáidí lúthchleasaíochta eile is fearr a fhorbraíonn Ennis Track an tréith sin sa duine óg. Cad eile a bheadh uait mar thuismitheoir?
Níl dabht ar bith ná gur chabhraigh an spéis agus cumas sa lúthchleasaíocht go mór leis an aos óg I rith na dianghlasála seo. D’éirigh le daoine óga a bhí ag rith go laethúil cothromaíocht saoil níos fear agus dearcadh dearfach a choimeád. Bí ag rith, sin eile, sin an chomhairle is fearr. Is buaiteoir gach duine a sheasann ag an líne ag tús an ráis. Nuair a bhí rith an ráis le Neasa, d’éirigh léi ionad ar fhóirne an Chláir, na Mumhan agus na hÉireann a bhaint amach. Beidh cuimhne ag a seanathair Dan go deo ar an ócáid i dTuaisceart na hEireann agus í ag rith suas ar Eastát Chnoc an Anfa (Stormont Estate) leis an veist glas á chaitheamh go bródúil aici féin agus a comhlúthchleasaithe.
Is tríocha bliain ag fás agus tríocha bliain sa rás atá á cheiliúradh ag Ennis Track i mbliana. Níl aon dabht ann ná go bhfuil a rian fágtha ag an gclub iontach seo ar go leor glúinte idir óg agus sean sa tréimhse sin I gceantar na hInse. Ní bheadh an rath ar an gclub mar atá, murach na daoine ar leith atá mar chnámh droma ag an gclub ó thús. Tá deis anseo agam thar cheann tuismitheoirí an chlub ár mbuíochas ó chroí a ghabháil leis na cóitseálaithe ar fad, le gach aon oifigeach, agus gach duine atá agus a bhí ag obair go deonach don chlub le tríocha bliain anuas. Táimid faoi chomaoin ollmhór agaibh uilig as an méid atá déanta agaibh d’ár bpáistí agus táimid buíoch. Is gá dom buíochas speisialta, agus aitheantas ar leith a ghabháil le Marie, Ita, Mary, Gerry, Ger agus Pat a thaisteal ar an turas le mo thriúr féin go dtí seo. Thuas seal agus thíos seal, sin bóithrín na lúthchleasaíochta agus ciall cheannaithe don saol. Gura fada buan Ennis Track. Mo cheol sibh!
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I cherish running side by side with kindred spirits who became my friends.
Once a runner always a runner and why walk when you can run has been my mantra. Hence why, after a break of 8 years from athletics, in 2007 I found myself lacing up the spikes once again following a persuasive conversation with Gerry Hayes. I myself was not a lover of cross country running, preferring middle distance or road runs up to 5k, but I found myself trudging over fields – running cross country in Clare and nationwide under the guidance of our coach Gerry Hayes. I don’t know if Gerry had a master plan or a vision but he had a collection of enthusiastic runners that were willing to put in the hard work and in return reap the rewards winning medals galore. Those medals are in a box somewhere in the attic a physical reminder of great sporting days, but it is the memories that I cherish running side by side with kindred spirits who became my friends.
No stone was left unturned in our preparations for races especially for All Irelands and one in particular stands out. We travelled to Wexford staying overnight the night before the race. We had a big crew travelling and we booked out the B & B, with the owner assuring us that he could accommodate everyone. Siobhan Lennon and I agreed to be roommates. All was well, with everyone delighted with their rooms until myself and Siobhan were shown to our room, and, on opening the door we were knocked backwards with the stench. What the owner had failed to tell us on booking was, that he was short one room. He kicked out his children out of the room and decided to paint it the day before using out of date paint. To rectify this he left peeled onions all over the room. We spent the night gagging and I can’t remember how we ran I was so traumatized from the experience.
Another stand out memory is training in the big freeze in Flannans in 2010. We were certifiably running in minus 7 degrees, but with such dedication an All Ireland title was our end goal – which we did achieve some weeks later.
The beauty of athletics is what you put in you get back in spades and I am delighted to say I am still involved with the Club. While not competing, I am at enjoying going to races, shouting encouragement to my children as they have taken over the mantle. A big thank you to all at Ennis Track, the Coaches and Committees for their selfless dedication that has made the club what is today.
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It does not matter where you are in the race, you can always hear “ the roar”.
The great Gerry Hayes on the side-line giving you the encouragement to find that extra gear, that extra motivation to push on, simply because Gerry said you could. I have ran countless races for Ennis Track and still that “roar” sends a shiver down my spine. It is a unique talent, but when you seem to be at your weakest point, Gerry appears on the hill with such gusto that you forget your current state of pain and immediately react and you start to run faster. The one constant over the past thirty years of Ennis Track has been “The Bossman”, Mr. Gerry Hayes.
Of course, no man can do it alone, and “The Brain Trust” of Pat Hogan, Maire Roche, Ita Hanrahan, & Ger Casey put such dedication, organization and effort into coaching they would put most Inter-County GAA teams to shame. No stone is left unturned, and each training session is meticulously planned and every detail analysed. Everyone moving in the one direction. The goal is quite simple. We want to be the best.
In the early years, Seán Whelan, Frankie Garrahy, Gerrard McCullough, Tom Casey & Veronica Colleran all flew the flag for Ennis Track and did so with great pride and distinction. They put the foundations in for the club to grow, and for that we are eternally grateful.
Since those early days the club has won titles at County, Munster and All Ireland in both Men and Female and countless Juvenile Titles. It is a club which now stands alongside the elite clubs in Irish Athletics.
Along the way, their has been some incredible team victories. The Ladies team taking their first Munster Senior Cross Country title in 2008. The Men winning Munster Senior Cross Country titles in 2016 & 2017. The Men’s team winning the All-Ireland Novice in 2007 and 2015. Winning the National Intermediate Title in 2016. The Women’s team Capturing Gold in the All Ireland Novice in 2008. The Club’s first senior team medal finishing second in the All Ireland Senior Inter-Club in 2016. National Road Relays 2nd position for three years in a row. The list goes on.
I have witnessed some incredible individual performances by our athlete’s Rory Chesser winning countless National Title’s, Donal Devane’s victory in the All Ireland Novice Cross Country. Brian McGinley’s brilliant bronze medal in the National Intermediate Cross Country, Michael Maher’s bronze spot at a Munster Senior Roads. Dara Chesser winning the Munster Senior Cross Country. Kevin Mulcaire winning the All-Ireland Senior Schools Cross Country Title.
I have seen the Irish Singlet been worn by Frankie Garrahy, Veronica Colleran, Maria Carey, Gerry O’Flaherty, Jo Keane, Aishling D’arcy, Rory Chesser, Dara Chesser, Patrick Chesser, Karl Fitzmaurice, Damien Landers, Kevin Mulcaire, Cathal Crosbie, Patrick Quinn, Donal Devane, Ambrose Heagney, Niamh Markham, Mark Hanrahan and Dean and Dylan Casey. They have and continue to set the standard for the club.
For all those accolades and achievements, there have been moments when athlete’s go above and beyond of what is expected. This is what makes the club so special. The feed off the success of others and it drives them to be better. Liam Naughton’s incredible run in the All-Ireland Novice in 2019, James Whelan running like a man possessed in the Clare Senior of 2019. Mairtin Grealish winning the Clare 4 mile title in 2010, Martin Glynn winning bronze in a Munster Novice Cross Country. Patricia O’Brien, Maria Carey and Imogen Cotter’s stellar victories in the Clare Senior Cross Country. Micheál Keane breaking two minutes for the 800m for the first time. Conor Devane finishing in 4th in his first Clare Senior Cross Country. Kevin Chesser winning the Clare 4mile title in 2016. Darragh Lynch’s 14mins 49 secs for 5k in 2019.
I have been very fortunate to be part of some fantastic teams, however I can only vaguely remember races. What I can remember is the training camps in Lahinch, Spanish Point, Tramore, Banna and Portugal. The fun, laughter and miles lots of them. We trained hard but it never seemed like a choir to me. It was enjoyable every step of the way. Excuse the pun.
My abiding memory of the club, will and always will be lining up on the start line of a race with my teammates, my friends ready for the start. The gun goes, the stampede begins and the roar in the distance “COME ON THE TRACK”.
Is mise le meas,
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Miniscule Detail In Every Session
I first started my journey with Ennis Track at the age of seven taking after my two older brothers
who had already been training and competing with the club at the time. When I first started with the
club I was put into a group full of older children many of whom are still running with the club to this
day. We used to train every Monday and Friday evening at the track in Lees Road where many
coaches, volunteers and athletes would turn up in high spirits each and every time without fail.
These coaches and volunteers were of course all under the direction of Gerry Hayes who never
missed a single training session in order to ensure that everything was plain sailing and that there
was no slacking going on amongst the many groups that there were to manage. My first ever
race with the club was an under 10s cross country race in bleak conditions held in Kilnaboy. To say it
was a daunting experience for myself and possibly the many young children competing that day would
be an understatement but it somehow wasn’t a miserable enough experience to throw me off
A lot of my favourite and most vivid memories with the club include early morning bus trips on our way
to Munster and All Ireland Cross Country Championships. In the darkness of a November or
December morning everyone would gather outside the West County at crazy hours of the morning, all
in great anticipation of the long day that would lie ahead of us. There was never a shortage of
blankets, pillows, earplugs or even speakers to be found on the bus for everyone to pass the few
hours away in advance of arguably the most important yet also the most gruelling race on
everyone’s annual calendar.
As expected the races were always going to be the highlight of the day from a spectator’s point of view
yet it was all the events surrounding the big race which always made the day memorable as an
athlete. These could include blasting music on a speaker to keep energy levels going in preparation
for the battle, meeting different athletes from all over the country at the many crowded start lines
we had to endure or embracing team mates afterwards on the other side of the mud bath. It
would be safe to say that there was never a dull moment for the club when it came to big days out
An admirable highlight for myself and my teammates was winning the All Ireland under 17
club gold medal in December 2019 after a hard fought battle in the middle of nowhere in a field
outside Navan. Intensity levels may have been at an all-time high yet our coach Pat Hogan along
with many other coaches and volunteers lined up taking positions at each and every corner of the
course. They noticed how well we were all doing as a team and from that made an intelligent group
decision not to hold back in terms of roaring levels from start to finish helping us all discover a new
way to pull through and ensure that the team gold medal would make its way back to Ennis later that
afternoon. Nothing beat the feeling of finding out later through a text that our team won the gold
medal following another year of hard yet enjoyable training and dedication to the club and to the sport.
Thanks to Ennis Track I have had the opportunity to travel all around the country to compete on both
a national and international level on the Irish team which I have had the privilege to compete on three
times to date. None of this would’ve been possible without the vast amount of belief that the Ennis
Track coaches have in all of their athletes and the behind the scenes work that they put into planning
and preparing each and every training session down to the most miniscule detail in order to
ensure that athletes of all ages can get the most out of their training whilst also gaining a great love
and sense of enjoyment for the sport every step of the way.
I’d like to congratulate the club on a successful 30 years and wishing them luck with continuing the
work that they started 30 years ago for another 30 years to come! I’d also like to give a special
mention to every parent, volunteer and coach who have helped make coming this far with an army of
athletes 30 years later possible and in particular to Gerry, Pat, Marie, Ita, Mary and Ger who have all
played a massive part in my development as an athlete for the last nine years!
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I Had One Of The Fastest Kids In Europe Delivering Flyers
I became involved with Ennis Track in 2013 when my son Ben was in 6th class. He competed at the national schools all Ireland’s that year and did very well. After his race one of the mentors there asked him what club he was in and were surprised when he said he wasn’t part of a club. When he came home and told me I said I’d make enquiries. I had a girl working for me called Ciara and I knew some members of her family were into athletics. Her brother Kevin (on Ciara’s recommendation ) was also doing a bit of work for me delivering flyers door to door. Ciara told me to go up to Lee’s Rd on Monday or Friday evening and just pay a euro and Gerry would sort us out. With a deal that good I decided I’d bring the 4 kids. What I didn’t realise at the time was that I had one of the fastest kids in Europe delivering my flyers! This was of course the very talented Kevin Mulcaire!
I have many proud memories from my 6 years with the club from my daughter Tori getting a county medal at cross country, Ella winning the long jump in Nenagh, in the county final for the first time U14, Zara jumping up 15 places from one year to the next in cross country or Ben winning the All Ireland 800m indoor in Athlone. The highlights for the kids was going to the West County to get on the bus to cross country events, up at the crack of dawn, layers of warm clothes and plenty of healthy snacks (well mostly healthy).
As the proud daddy on the course cheering on my kids I used to bring my camera and try and fill up the family album while I was there. I met Michael O Brien (club photographer) who told me I could send in some of the pictures for the website. That evening I said I better study Michaels photos from previous events and try and learn what worked best angles/ponytails/water etc. A few months later on a day out in Tipperary Ita Hanrahan asked me if I’d take the pictures that day as Michael couldn’t be there. I said I’d give it a go, It wasn’t for a good few races after that I realised I hadn’t seen Michael and I became the accidental photographer. My wife Pamela didn’t believe this and still insists I stole that poor man’s job! I think when I saw what those photos meant to my own kids I wanted to try and capture everyone that took part. I’d come home in the evening after a long day and go through 300-600 pictures and hope there were some good ones to send on. Kilnaboy was probably my favourite course to photograph as you had a great mix of hills/gates/straights no shortage of muck and even the odd flying tent (thankfully no one was injured that day). My least favourite was Beaufort as it was too flat for good vantage point.
One of the things I loved about Ennis Track was the encouragement that was given to all the athletes, I remember being down in Dungarvan one day half way around the track taking pictures and Pat Hogan was close by cheering on his athletes in the race. I thought I’d got every athlete and was wondering why Pat was still waiting and along came one of the lads who was way down the field having a bad day and he gave him the same words of encouragement as he’d given his teammates who were leading the race. I’ve witnessed the same from all other coaches at the club which is great to see as when 140 athletes start a race they can’t all win.
It was great over the time to witness the likes of Rory Chesser or Damien Landers leading the field at an All-Ireland in Abbotstown; Chisom Ugwueru or Ailbhe Doherty winning in Tullamore; Ava Rochford breaking a high jump record in Athlone, Jo Keane and Alex O Neill battling it out in an All-Ireland final or Dylan and Dean Casey killing it at the All-Ireland Cross Country in Waterford and claiming 1st and 2nd place and their team winning by a mile, but the best memories I have are from the Ennis Track Sports day in Lees Rd and the Twilight Run at Halloween. The excitement and camaraderie of the young athletes was palpable at the sports day and a great chance for even the toddlers to have a go. The work and effort that went into the Twilight run was unbelievable and a great chance for parents to become involved in the club.
Just a few of the photos that brought me joy by Joe Deasy
Did We Dream That This Milestone Would Be Reached
Congratulations to Gerry Hayes and Ennis Track Club on the 30th Anniversary of the Club. Did we dream at that 1st meeting that this milestone would be reached!
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An Ode To Cross Country
I joined Ennis Track at the start of the last decade. A short few months later my initiation took place at the Clare Senior Cross Country in Kilnaboy. I had never run on grass before never mind a Senior Cross Country.
There are very few things left in life that have not been touched by modernisation. Cross Country is one of the last bastions of tradition in a rapidly changing world. I wager that a Cross Country championship 30 years ago wouldn’t look much different to now … bar a few more mullets on show. There are no clocks, no chip timing, no carbon plates, no tech t-shirts, no motivational signs, no kilometre markers and definitely no tarmac. Just grass, muck, hills, tape and a dodgy PA system.
As I nervously entered the field I was greeted with a stream of muck covered kids heading for the exit, I wondered were Tusla aware that such a pastime existed. A quick assessment of the conditions confirmed my fears that “the going was soft”. If it was a horse race, a track inspection may have led to a cancellation but Cross country is never cancelled … except for a pandemic.
A half-hearted warm up was followed by a call to the start line. I glanced to my left and right, the ages ranged from 20s to 60s and the waist sizes followed a similar pattern. In what other sport, do past legends line up with wannabe ones? The age demographic gave me some hope of face saving. I was wrong. As the whistle went, I was left for dust… or muck. I plodded around the 10k course, trying in vain to get my oxygen starved brain to calculate how many laps I had left. My quads burned and my lungs whistled, it felt like I was running through soup. Inevitably I was lapped by the winner, beaten by the legends and the final embarrassment came as I entered the last kilometre and realised the course had been taken up.
Coach Hayes greeted me at the finish line with a knowing grin, “you went out too slow” he said, he was right but I neither had the energy or the will to tell him. As I surveyed the field of collapsed recuperating bodies, I spotted one of the past legends stripped to his “speedos”, taking a bath in a cattle trough. Now that’s Cross country!
Despite it all, I came back for more and have ran every year since, even picking up a few medals. Cross Country to me is tradition and teamwork, its strength and stamina, its madness and mental fortitude and its great craic …. in hindsight.
Ennis Track has given me years of enjoyment. At the risk of sounding clichéd the best memories are not the results but the journey to get there. The training sessions in hail, rain and heat waves, the craic in the car on our way to different corners of Munster, the chats during long runs along the boreens around Ennis and above all the great lasting friendships made.
My few medals are now play things for the kids, the memories are my own.
Happy Birthday Ennis Track.
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– Here’s To Another 30 by Rory Chesser
Ennis Track is 30 years old, older than some people reading this. I have run for Ennis Track since circa 1996. I’m not entirely sure; the main reason I remember 1996 is because the Atlanta Olympics were on that year and Michael Johnson did the double 200m and 400m. A feat that has never been replicated.
My cousin, Kieran Dee displayed a very similar technique to Michael Johnson and it was through Kieran and his older brother Michael that I became involved in athletics and ultimately Ennis Track Club. I followed Michael one day to training in St. Flannan’s College. The Secondary School aged guys were training. Gerry Hayes told me to go home as I was too young but I wanted to run and I did. That is where it started.
I have so many fond memories running with Ennis Track; travelling the length and breadth of the country, competing, making friends, eating chips on the way home. In more recent times winning National medals with my brothers and friends are memories I will always cherish. We have a bond that will stay with us forever, wherever we go.
I also have memories of when things haven’t worked out so well. Ending up in hospital with a torn abdomen and bad dose of Salmonella after a National Cross Country in St. Augustine’s College in Dungarvan is one example. Falling foul of officials on big days is another. What I have gained from those hard experiences is resilience in facing challenges in my everyday life and I know who the most important people in my life are.
I will continue to compete for a few more years yet and the main thing I would encourage a young athlete to do is to focus on themselves and not be so worried about what others are doing ‘’Comparison is the thief of joy’’ – Theodore Roosevelt.
Or maybe a better way of looking at it is to compare yourself with yourself! Of course we have ups and downs in terms of form etcetera but if you stick at this sport and listen to our amazing coaches, ultimately you will achieve great things.
There have been many times where I have competed and been disappointed but the days things worked out more than make up for the bad days. Enjoyment is the other most important aspect of this sport. You will also enjoy it more if you focus on improving yourself; little by little as well as helping your friends achieve their goals.
This is one of the best athletics clubs in Ireland and we are just getting started. And the people behind the scenes have to be commended. They are there through thick and thin. They have picked us up when we have fallen down and stood up for us when others doubted us. This aspect has been magnified throughout the last year. Training has been devised in a way to follow Government Guidelines while still keeping athletes interested. Whenever we get to compete; we will be ready. Thank you to all the coaches, parents and supporters.
Athletics is an incredibly tough sport but it can offer you so many opportunities to broaden your horizons and meet people from all over the world. Try to think about this on the hard days or when you wonder if you ever will achieve anything, you will. Ennis track is 30 years old this year, but this is just the beginning! Here’s to another 30 years with competition, rivalry, winning, losing, coming back and more than anything enjoyment in the little joys this sport can grant us. by Rory Chesser
Thank you Rory for this – a dedicated athlete who continues to strive towards achieving that next win, a massive inspiration to athletes of all ages with his never give up attitude. His hard work etiquette encourages all the athletes training with him to give more of themselves. In August 2020 Rory collected his 7th Gold medal at the 3000m Steeplechase in a time of 9:39.62, yes 7 gold medals, this just says it all. There is also coverage of his 2016 steeplechase https://t.co/5t7ytS3Esd?amp=1 and if you wanted to hear him speaking with Liam Naughton you can find it here