Year 2015

Memories and stories of old cast a magic spell on patrons at the Limerick AC Reunion 2015

Reporter: James Prendeville

With security tighter than Prince Charles visit to Ireland around the Greenhills Hotel last Saturday night famous faces of past club members were everywhere to be seen.  As patrons circulated in the function room they were greeted by exalted club members; Ronnie Long Chairman, Tim Crowe President and Tom Foley Vice-President all looking exceptionally smart in their new suits. The crowd grew to over 120 souls and the function room started to buzz and I knew it was going to be a great night.

The walls were filled with fantastic pictures of famous times past, pictures of Frank O’Mara, Bernie Hartigan, Neil Cusack, Robert Costelloe and Mick O’Shea and many more shining stars of Limerick AC.

One story I heard exchanged was that famous day on 30th June 1979 the first time Limerick AC won the National League. The Club was runner up on 4 out of the last 5 occasions – Limerick AC won by the narrowest of margins – 93 points, just a half of point more than Dublin City Harriers and Crusaders 3rd. with 90 points. Limerick AC`s five winners on the day were – Pat Shine(100m) , Tim Crowe (400m) , Mick O Shea (1500m) , Bernie Hartigan (Discus) & Derek Casey (Javelin ) . Other Limerick AC Results were – Frank O Mara 3rd. (800m) , Pat Shine 2nd. (200m) , Robert Costelloe 2nd. (5000m) , Bernie Hartigan 3rd. (Shot Putt) & Limerick AC 3rd. (4X100m Relay ).

While the reminiscing continued at pace and with the Limerick AC flag hosted proudly over the podium our President Tim Crowe tapped the microphone and requested the “auld cúnas”.  Excitement was high as people chatted to friends that they had not seen for some time and were catching up on the news. Another request from Tim to the patrons to take their seats and within minutes all was quiet.

A hush descended across the room and with calm authority president Tim Crowe welcomed everyone to the reunion. He welcomed and thanked Labour TD Jan O’Sullivan and John Foley CEO of Athletics Ireland and a member of LAC for coming out to support the club function on this auspicious night.

Tim explained that tonight there would be a couple of short speeches and three presentations. It was time to start. Bouncing up to the microphone was our fresh faced club vice chairman Tom Foley looking smashing in his new suit, silence once again ensued!

Excitement grew as Tom said that the first presentation goes to a man who’s dedication to athletics over his lifetime was outstanding and over the years he did a super job for Limerick AC as President and as PRO for Limerick Athletics, and he called on Paddy O’Connell to the podium to receive an award from the club in appreciation for all he has done for the club over the years. A huge round of applause for this very popular man exploded around the room. Well done Paddy were the shouts from the floor, well done indeed.

Next up to the microphone was our club chairman Ronnie Long. You could hear a pin drop as the big man approached the microphone, was it going to be a long speech or a short speech either way, respect for this man is something else.

Ronnie our man on the airways, approached the podium to deliver a speech about the second presentation to be made on the night. Ronnie praised the next award recipient saying that his commitment to coaching many athletes over the years was outstanding and after some great stories he asked Bill Logan to come forward and accept his award to another rousing applause.

Back at the podium President Tim Crowe started to talk about a person who has made outstanding contributions not only to Limerick athletics but to Irish athletics and a person that will never be forgotten. This person had so many achievements in athletics that they are just too many to mention in this short account of the night. Whispers grew in the crowd as Tim unfolded the life story of this individual and it became clear who it was. With a small delay for dramatic effect Tim called on Ronnie Long to come and accept this award and a gigantic round of applause.

The awards came to an end and I was amazed at what all three men have achieved over their lifetime in athletics. I was thinking to myself that its characters like these individuals that sustain local clubs though-out the country. As our young athletes in the club would say according to Ali G “Respect” man.

Tim thanked everyone for attending and said that he would love to see past members re-join the club and even take an active role in the future of the club.

It was now late into the evening and the bar and food corners were busy and conversations were in full flow. I sat in the corner thinking that these are the people that kept Limerick AC going during the good and hard times over the years. I thought of the few past members who could not be there on the night due to illness, our thoughts, prayers and best wishes are with them.

All good things must come to an end and as someone wisely said time waits for no man and so the night came to a close. It was a brilliant night, it was like a night at the Oscars, the who’s who of Limerick AC Athletics. LAC now has a thriving Juvenile section in the club with some outstanding young athletes and coaches coming through. The future is bright but it is also important to remember past glories of the oldest Athletic Club in Ireland “Limerick Athletic Club” and to do our upmost to once again grow the club in to the future.

Go dtí go gcasfar le chéile sinn arís , a choinneáil ar an fait.

And last but by no means least a huge thank you must go to the one and only Tom Foley and all others who put so much time and effort into organising the event. Well done Tom!

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