Drogheda & District’s AC’s Liam Mulligan makes his international debut for Ireland

While most kids can identify with watching their sporting heroes, be it running, cycling, football or, perhaps, tennis, and then going to bed later that evening, dreaming that they were scoring the winning goal, or sinking a vital putt, for most of us, even the talented ones, it never happens.

he reality is that the standard in modern day sport is so high, that only the chosen few can truly break through to the next level. For Liam Mulligan, last Sunday morning was a day to relish, as he was about to turn his dream into reality by making his international debut for Ireland, and was eager to pull the coveted green singlet over his broad shoulders and run his heart out for his club and country.

The previous day, Mulligan had travelled with his family, and trusted coach Ian O’Reilly to the Belgian city of Hannut for the World Athletics cross-country tour gold meeting, where a strong Irish team of 24 athletes were taking the opportunity to gain experience of Belgian cross country conditions, ahead of next year’s European cross-country championships which take place in Brussels in December.

Making the Irish squad didn’t happen by accident, this has been the culmination of many years of hard training, which is now paying off, and Mulligan’s progress has been an inspiration to his coaches, training partners and all in the club.

Together, O’Reilly and Mulligan have charted the way forward with forensic precision, overcoming the inevitable problems that occur along the way, and forged a friendship and bond of trust which is rarely seen outside of athletics.

Ahead of Mulligan was 9km of what can only be described as a Hell on Earth course, with endless hills, sharp turns, and man made barriers to be negotiated if one was to survive this course which could have resembled the Devil’s playground for runners. To make matters worse, the softening soil had seriously cut up from the previous races that had taken place earlier in the day.

Once the starter’s pistol sounded, the initial charge for the first bend of this three small and four large laps race had to be seen to be believed, as getting a good racing line is all-important, if vital seconds aren’t to be lost as the pack swings wide on the bends. With the leading pack moving along at a horrendous pace, Mulligan cleverly kept a cool head, and then began to advance as the initial pace died down.

Displaying a wisdom seldom seen in someone who still has three years to run in his U23 age group, Mulligan put the plan into action, and lapped this treacherous course with remarkable consistency on his way to a 47th place finish against some of the best athletes that Europe has to offer.

To go so deep in the well of pain, as Mulligan did during this race, says volumes about his commitment to his chosen sport. Given Mulligan’s remarkable run, one thing is abundantly clear, this was no fluke. The combination of Mulligan, and coach O’Reilly are a force to be reckoned with, and the only way is up for this talented duo.


Some of our sprint group athletes were in action at the midweek NIA Live Meeting which took place in Abbotstown. The evening began well with Mary McDonnell getting out of the blocks quickly on her way to a fourth place finish in the 60m Dash in a solid 10.16, while Mary Flanagan was fifth in 12.78, and a few more races should see their times fall further.

Next up were our 400m specialists, where club coach Gerry O’Connor finished runner up in Heat 1 in 1:01:90, while training partner Pol O Murchú was fifth in 1:08:64. Heat two saw James English run well to finish second in a lively 56.91 and he’s on an upward curve at the moment.

Also running was Paul Stuart who finished fourth in 59.98. Shane Smith had a terrific run in heat four of the 400m, finishing third in a noteworthy 52.86, despite having to run in lane three of this tight track, which is never easy for the taller, more powerfully built athletes.

In the 800m event, run over four laps of this state of the art track, heat one saw Fiona Murphy finish seventh in 3:02:67, with Kerry O’Connor eighth in 3:18:97. In what turned out to be a terrific race to watch, Kieran McGrath ran a well-judged race and despite this had to be content with a seventh place finish in 2:03:95, in a race that was packed with quality runners.

McGrath is one of those runners who races well over cross-country, road and track and he looks to be coming into form and should go well this coming season.


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