Phil Healy: The clubs are the backbone of our sport

February 27th, 2024 8:30 AM

By Southern Star Team

Caoimhe Flannery, Skibbereen AC, receiving her Aspiring Young Athlete award from Phil Healy. Also pictured is Pat Walsh, Cork Athletics Board Chairman and President of Skibbereen AC. (Photo: John Walshe)

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THE West Cork region was well represented among the total of almost 50 athletes who were honoured at the Kingsley Hotel in recognition of their achievements during the 2023 season.

The annual awards by the Cork Athletics Board consisted of those from the county who had represented Ireland at all levels, along with a number of young aspiring athletes who received bursary grants.

Chairman of the Cork Athletic Board, Skibbereen native Pat Walsh, welcomed the athletes and their families and said the aspiring young athletes aged between 16 and 18 who had shown promise during the year were basically the future of the sport.

‘Really the function of tonight is to say thanks and to acknowledge the achievements of all those receiving awards’, he stated. 

A new and brilliant initiative this year by the organisers was having as guest of honour Olympian Phil Healy, who was also the recipient of an International Award herself. Recalling her own early days in the sport, Phil said probably eight or ten years ago she was sitting in those same chairs as one of the inspiring athletes and her journey has certainly developed a good deal since then.

‘Growing up I did so many different sports, such as soccer, camogie, football and swimming. If you name it I did it. I actually joined athletics because of my sister Joan and I definitely wasn’t shooting the lights, I was going along more for the craic,’ she explained.

Michael Harrington of Durrus AC receiving his International Award from Phil Healy. Also pictured is Pat Walsh, Cork Athletics Chairman.


‘It was around 17 or 18 that I realised I had a potential in the sport as before that I wasn’t winning and maybe we should get away from that winning mentality, especially for younger athletes. It was after my Leaving Cert that I realised I had potential and my career took off after that.

‘It’s important to work hard and I wouldn’t be in this position today without my Bandon club and it’s so important to acknowledge that the clubs are the backbone of our sport. 

‘Everyone can have a dream and everyone here can be an aspiring Olympian. As you get older you will get days when things are not going to plan and you have to realise that it's not all about winning and comparing yourself to others, it's about winning for you.’

Although not all honoured were available to attend, among those who received International Awards were Bandon’s national cross-country champion Fiona Everard, Sean Lawton and his coach Michael Harrington from the Durrus club, World Master Mountain Running medallist Simon Nolan, along with Phil and Joan Healy.


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