“It was always going to be difficult for DCU Athletics Club to reach the standards of last year in terms of achievements at intervarsity level,” said Cian McBride as he took to the reigns for the second year in a row as chairperson of the club.
Last year, DCU Athletics became the first club to do a clean sweep across the university athletics competition calendar for the first time in Irish University Athletics Associations history.
In 2018/2019 the club won the titles of road relays, indoor track and field, cross country as well as outdoor track and field in both the men and women’s categories. On top of that, numerous athletes set new IUAA records along the way.
A new year not only brought a new chapter, but also a new Head of Athletics for the 2019/20 season, Paul Byrne.
The graduation of many high-profile athletes meant it was time for the younger athletes to step up to the plate to continue the success.
The Sligo man said, “it was quite a slow start to the year with many of our high-profile coaches from last year moving on along with our former Head of Athletics Enda Fitzpatrick.”
The first two months of semester one proved tough for the club with no Head of Athletics or recognised endurance coach in the University.
Both the men’s captain Michael Carey and women’s captain Zoe Carruthers put in a lot of hard work to try and keep the club members motivated to get out and train.
The appointment of Paul Byrne as Head of Athletics came in early November, a few short weeks before the first competition.
Despite facing stiff competition from rivals such as UCD and UL, the DCU men remained unbeaten in the 2019/20 season retaining their titles in the IUAA road-relays, indoor track, field and cross country.
The ladies’ team were narrowly beaten by Trinity College in both the road-relays and cross country, missing out on the gold by a single point in both. However, DCU ladies retained their indoor track and field title.
McBride said, “as much as we consider the DCU athletics club to be more about team performances in the university competitions, it would be hard to look back on the season gone by and not mention a few stand-out individual performances from members of the club. “
Andrew Coscoran – a third year student in St. Pats had a stand-out indoor season in America where he smashed the 4-minute mile barrier running 3.56 in Boston in January.
This performance was backed up with a few more excellent races which has put him in contention for a place at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, now taking place in 2021.
At the national Cross-Country championships in November, a total of nine DCU athletics members were selected to represent Ireland at the European Cross County championships in Lisbon.
The departure of the Head of Athletics, Enda Fitzpatrick, a decision made by DCU, caused huge upset amongst the club, for both athletes and coaches at the end of last season.
Before Fitzpatrick’s arrival at DCU, the athletics club had never won an Irish intervarsity title, and has since won 190 teams titles.
“He created an empire of success for the University in the history of IUAA competition which is unlikely to be achieved again and this success is what appealed to athletes sitting their leaving cert examinations and made them want to attend and represent DCU.”
Enda coached DCU athletes to major championships and Olympic games in the university.
Paul Byrne arrived this year as Head of Athletics just a few weeks before the clubs first competition, “so he was thrown straight into the deep end to a certain extent.”
The Sligo man feels he has had a very successful first few months and steadied the un-certainty which the athletes had early in semester one.
“He has brought back that feel-good factor to the club which was missing for a few months. He came in and really trusted the core committee members who were elected at our AGM in late September.“
McBride is confident Paul will raise the bar again in terms of what the club achieves and understands he is determined to continue the success which Enda left during his term at the club.
“I feel with Paul on-board; the club is in safe hands and will continue to dominate IUAA competition in the foreseeable future. “