A STALWART of the Clare athletics scene received a congratulatory phone call from Olympic hero Kellie Harrington after receiving a national award for his work.
Ennis Track AC’s Gerry Hayes recently received a SPAR Ireland Mentor Award for his unselfish hard work with the club.
The president of the club was one of 10 people to receive this award as each winner scooped €1,000 for their club.
The phone call from Harrington came after Hayes expressed his hope some of the young talent coming through can represent the club and their country at an Olympic Games.
“I was overjoyed when I got the news. I never expected it. I do what I love. I’ve done volunteer work all my life and all my family have volunteered too so it is unexpected. It’s a huge honour.”
He states his love of athletics was something he possessed from an early age.
“I have a love of sport especially athletics. I found running most enjoyable. When I was growing up I lived about two and a half miles away from the school in Corofin so I walked or ran to school barefoot until October and then we could put the boots on. I mightn’t have been the fastest but I loved it.”
He ran in the second ever hosting of the Dublin City marathon but now mainly focuses on helping the next generation of athletes coming through the ranks.
“I love seeing the progress of kids. We have a few who would have been with us since they were nine or 10 and are still going. We even have members who joined in the mid 90s and still love it. To see the happiness running brings especially to kids is fantastic and you know you are doing something good when you do your bit for the club. My mother told us to help other people. This is something I enjoy doing and I just do my bit like everyone else.”
With last year being the 30 year anniversary of the club, Hayes’ award is a fitting way to round out a strong end to the year for Ennis Track.
Club members Donal Devane and Dean Casey won gold and silver team medals respectively with Team Ireland at the European Cross Country Championships. The club will also be represented at the ECCC Cross Country Championships in Portugal this February.
Ennis Track won the men’s and women’s team events at the Clare Senior Cross Country Championships in late December.
“What Donal and Dean achieved was huge. We always hope to see people compete at the highest level. To get a gold and silver in our 30 year anniversary is special. After that we won the Clare Senior Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships which was great for the club. Overall we had a fantastic end to the year.”
Hayes believes Ennis Track can enjoy continued success in 2022 especially with a dedicated team of coaches and volunteers behind the scenes.
“We want to continue winning national Junior Club titles and in three to four years push on for senior titles. We continue to work hard and if we can win the senior title in a few years then it would be brilliant. We have amazing people behind the scenes and it’s they who help to keep the club going so we hope for more success going forward.”
By Ivan Smyth