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Full steam ahead for Ross runners

November 2nd, 2015 7:15 AM

By Southern Star Team

MAIN: Olympic and European medallist Sonia O'Sullivan (centre) and her daughter Sophie (kneeling left), with members of Rosscarbery Steam Runners AC at a recent Clonakilty parkrun. (Photo: Paddy Feen)

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THERE are few greater honours than having a club named after you, and Rosscarbery’s TJ O’Mahony would certainly have been proud to know that the newest athletic club in his native place has done just that. 

Known as ‘The Rosscarbery Steam Engine’, TJ was a champion runner of both America and Ireland in 1888 and he became Champion of the USA on the GAA’s ‘Gaelic Invasion’ tour of the USA that same year. In 2011 a plaque was unveiled in the village to honour him as one of the country’s greatest athletes and it also saw the inaugural ‘Rosscarbery Steam Engine 5km Run’ take place. This has gone from strength to strength over the last number of years. So in effect, the pieces were already in place and it only seemed like a natural step that locals would come together to set up their own athletic club.

‘The idea came about through Denis MacSweeney and Denis Calnan, who were running on a regular basis but the nearest clubs to them were in Clonakilty and Skibbereen,’ said Fiona Calnan, treasurer of Rosscarbery Steam Runners AC. ‘So the seed was sown that a local athletic club could work and they put the word out that they were thinking of forming one.

‘This was back in April and we enquired with the Athletics Association of Ireland (AAI) about how to set the club up. 21 people actually turned up for our first meeting, which was brilliant and we signed the charter and elected officers, which was then ratified by Cork County and then by the National Board. The club’s official registration took place on April 25th.’

In the space of just a short few months the club has grown to 73 members aged between 18 and 50 with runners of all abilities.

‘The reaction has been amazing. We have new people showing up at every session and they are all full of enthusiasm. 

The club has everything from getting fit to meeting new people – there’s a great social scene.’

The club began with Wednesday night training on the Warren Beach as well as Saturday morning sessions. While there are some core members of the group running for a few years, they are also there to guide any novice runners and they have formed a sub-committee to help coach the newcomers.

‘We have the runners broken down into three categories – absolute beginners, intermediate and experienced runners and we are taking part in everything from 5km races to full marathons and we have eight members taking place in this month’s Dublin City Marathon which should be a great race.’

With the dark evenings now upon us the club is now running the Wednesday sessions in the sports complex attached to Mount St Michael Secondary School in Rosscarbery where there is plenty of circuit training for all members. With the majority of the members are female; Fiona is putting out the call for more male members to join the club.

‘This is better than any Tinder App and it would be great for more men to join the club as it’s a very sociable event with members coming from all around the surrounding areas. The fact that it is a new club means people are bringing others along to check it out.’

The club held a members night on Wednesday, October 21st at the Celtic Ross Hotel where a representative from John Buckley Sports was on hand to give advice about footwear and a sports nutritionist and a physiotherapist were also in attendance.

‘We had our first social night after the Cork City Marathon back in June when 48 of our members took part. It was a great opportunity to get to know fellow members and we presented an ‘Athlete of the Month’ mug to a particular member. This can be awarded to the most improved or most enthusiastic member and it’s all good fun,’ added Fiona.

The club officers are Denis Calnan, chairperson; Denis MacSweeney, vice-chairperson; Fiona Calnan, treasurer; Lisa Ronan, secretary; Brian Harte, registrar; Noelle Howarth, child welfare officer) and Claire Creedon (PRO).

‘If any readers are thinking about joining us I would encourage them to just turn up with an open mind and try it for a couple of weeks and see if they like it.’ said Fiona.

See ‘Rosscarbery Steam Runners AC’ on Facebook for more information on the club.

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