24 May 2019
Student protest is not new but nothing on this island has matched the furious reaction by Dublin City University’s athletes to the removal of Enda Fitzpatrick as Athletics Academy Director. The Longford native in his 14 years at the helm has built the north Dublin establishment into the top Irish university not only in track and field but also road running and cross country.
DCU had never won a varsity title before his arrival but now the figure stands at an impressive 190 and has seen many DCU athletes, such as two-time European cross country champion Fionnuala McCormack, go on to represent Ireland on the world stage.
Prior to his appointment at DCU, the former sub-four minute miler and 1500m international had been a teacher in Holy Family Secondary School in Clontarf, Dublin but received a secondment from the Department of Education & Skills (DES) to enable him to take up the post.
DCU students have reacted angrily appealing directly to the university’s resident Brian MacCraith for the Fitzpatrick to be re-instated immediately.
“It is with great disappointment and deep disgust for us to hear of the very sad termination of our esteemed Athletics director Enda Fitzpatrick by DCU hierarchy last week. The loss of his support to DCU athletics club is unquantifiable given his commitment to his role over the past 13 years where he has gone well beyond the call of duty to support new, current and past students,” read the statement.
“When Enda arrived in DCU in 2003, 18 athletes competed for DCU Athletics throughout Irish University competitions, this figure has since grown significantly to see 115 athletes wearing the DCU singlet throughout the 2018/19 season. As a result of Enda’s commitment and contribution to the DCU Athletics Academy, DCU athletics has went from having never won any Irish university athletics titles pre 2002 to now holding 190 team titles….”
Crux of the matter seems to be the question of whether the DES were willing to extend Fitzpatrick’s secondment. DCU have stated that against a background of a teaching shortage at secondary level, they have been informed by DES that all secondments, including that of Fitzpatrick, have been cut short.
Fitzpatrick has expressed his “hurt and disappointment” over the decision, adamant that the director of sports and well-being at DCU, had not explored all the possibilities of a further extension to his secondment. He maintains that that in correspondence with Holy Faith, DCU were presented with the opportunity to apply for a further extension, via the school principal should both parties agree.
“I’m absolutely disappointed the university would take this stance,” said Fitzpatrick, “and very much hurt about that too”.
DCU Athletics Club since set up an online petition in an effort to retain the services of Fitzpatrick, with almost 2500 signatures achieved by Wednesday evening. The student athletes also held a peaceful protest outside the office of the DCU president on Tuesday before handing in a petition that DCU renew Fitzpatrick’s secondment.
“Our fight will continue to influence the decision-makers within the university to immediately reverse this decision and allow Enda continue for the next two years until he officially retires,” promised the DCU Athletics Club members.
KILLYCLOGHER GEAR UP FOR 5K/10K
Picture Caption (L to R): Barry McCann (Omagh Tri Club), Niamh Dolan (Enda Dolan Foundation), Pat McCrory (Killyclogher GAA), Terry Canning (Omagh Harriers AC), Jimmy Carrigan (Gina Carrigan Forget Me Not), Peter O’Kane (Killyclogher GAA), Seána McQuade (KC Runners).
The 9th O’Neills Killyclogher 10K and 5K takes place on Saturday, June 8 from the eponymous club’s Ballinamullan grounds. Both courses present a great opportunity for setting personal best times on account of the flat and fast nature of the terrain.
The event is chip-timed and over the years has attracted some of the best running talent across the region. Last year’s 10K was won by Keith Shiels, Derry Track Club, in a time of 32:21 and the first female home was Grace Carson from Mid Ulster AC. Previous winners have included Stevie Duncan and Paul Barbour in the men’s race while Ann-Marie McGlynn from the Letterkenny club scored an outstanding victory in the women’s contest.
However, the organisers are keen to point that the event is for all ages and abilities and, in conjunction with the Enda Dolan Foundation, will climax a Couch to 5K programme hosted at Youth Sport Omagh with over 260 new runners taking up the challenge.
The first 400 registered for the 10K and 5K events will receive a T-Shirt. Participants can pre-register on the Athletics NI website or on the morning of the event. Post race refreshments for all runners and walkers will be provided in the adjoining Dún Uladh centre afterwards.
The nominated charities for this year’s event are The Gina Carrigan Forget Me Not Fund and The Enda Dolan Foundation. For further details see the Killyclogher 10K or Killyclogher GAA Facebook page
ESKRA 5K SERIES LAUNCED
The popular Paul Murray Grand Prix 5K Series is back this June after the success of last year’s event. The special four race series is hosted by Knockmany Running Club in the Clogher Valley and looks set to attract plenty of interest across Tyrone and further afield.
Proceeds from the four races will be contributed to the Air Ambulance Northern Ireland charity. Paul Murray, a member of Knockmany Running Club, was tragically killed in England in a road accident four years ago when out training for the Dublin Marathon. Paul needed use of the Air Ambulance and his family were able to be with him before his passing due to the quick response.
The four 5K races will be contested on different routes and will take place on Friday evenings (June 7, June 14, June 21 and June 28) starting each evening from Eskra Community Centre at 7:30pm. There will be prizes for each race plus awards for overall grand prix and category winners. Participants who complete the full race series will be rewarded with a special Paul Murray Grand Prix medal.
Last year saw some very competitive races with Martin Cox, Darrell McKee and Paul Barbour all claiming individual victories while the female race was dominated by Grainne O’Hagan and Paula Donnelly. Paul Barbour and Grainne O’Hagan ending up as overall series winners.
For further Information see the Paul Murray Grand Prix Facebook and Twitter pages. Online registration is available at Athletics NI website while entries will also be taken each evening.
BELFAST INTERNATIONAL SET FOR 1st AUGUST
Athletics NI have announced details of the Belfast International Track & Field Meet to be held at the Mary Peters Track on Thursday, August 1. The good news is that the 2019 meeting will this year be part of the European Athletics Promotions (EAP) circuit. This should mean that there will be a greater international participation than in the past couple of year.
This year’s ambassador is Commonwealth Games representative, Kate O’Connor, who broke her own NI Senior javelin record last weekend at the Leinster Schools. Earlier she opened her outdoor season with an impressive second at the Multi-Stars IAAF Challenge in Italy. The Dundalk resident will be joined at the meeting by Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Leon Reid and Portaferry woman Ciara Mageean who was third in the 1500m at the recent European Indoor Championships in Glasgow.