Mick Clo­hisey – sec­ond best ath­lete to come out of Ra­heny this year?

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SPORTS - Ian O’Rior­dan

“Re­mem­ber, Bob. No fear. No envy. No mean­ness.” So Liam Clancy told the young Dy­lan when he first ar­rived on the New York folk scene back in 1961, and there’s still some good ad­vice in there for us all. Es­pe­cially around this time of year and what is gen­er­ously hailed as the sport­ing achieve­ment and awards sea­son – that an­nual and of­ten fu­tile process of defin­ing the some­times in­de­fin­able.

One week in and al­ready there’s plenty of envy and a lit­tle mean­ness. Part of the fear is that ev­ery­one has their own def­i­ni­tion of sport­ing achieve­ment, not just in win­ning a GAA All Star award, in foot­ball or hurl­ing, and things get even more en­vi­ous when try­ing to com­pare one sport with an­other.

Still there’s noth­ing wrong with some healthy de­bate, even when try­ing to ar­gue over some­thing as nar­rowed down as who ex­actly is the best ath­lete to come out of Ra­heny this year: Brian Fen­ton or Mick Clo­hisey?

Fen­ton be­ing a Dublin foot­baller and Clo­hisey be­ing an in­ter­na­tional dis­tance run­ner that might not be as close a con­test as it seems, al­though they both share a lot of the qual­i­ties as­so­ci­ated with proper sport­ing achieve­ment: con­sis­tent, durable, re­li­able, and most of all hum­ble, they’ve also had prob­a­bly the best sea­sons of their ca­reers to date, all while of­fer­ing a con­stant re­minder that tal­ent is noth­ing with­out hard work.

There’s also that ath­leti­cism about Fen­ton’s foot­ball which could eas­ily be ap­plied to an­other sport, es­pe­cially dis­tance run­ning. Fen­ton re­mem­ber came into his de­but sea­son with Dublin in 2015 with no great rep­u­ta­tion other than hav­ing been a cham­pion un­der­age swim­mer, and fin­ished it with a man-of-the-match per­for­mance in the All-Ire­land fi­nal. As in­con­ceiv­able now as it would have sounded then, Fen­ton is now 25 and has never lost a cham­pi­onship match for Dublin, and if not ev­ery­one’s choice for foot­baller of the year he cer­tainly was mine.

Close at­ten­tion

Fen­ton was also our “player watch” in this year’s All-Ire­land fi­nal against

Ty­rone – the task of fol­low­ing a sin­gle player over the course of the game, for bet­ter or for worse. This was made was eas­ier by the fact it was hard to take your eyes off of Fen­ton, es­pe­cially as Ty­rone’s Conor Meyler, a late re­place­ment for full for­ward Richard Donnelly, straight away went in on him – or rather into Fen­ton’s face and ear and ev­ery­thing else within reach of it, on and off the ball and ev­ery­where else in be­tween.

Only Fen­ton never once fell for it, end­ing up with two neat sou­venirs as proof

– and not just his two points from play, but two bright beam­ing bruises, di­rectly above and below his right eye. Rather than com­plain about the close at­ten­tion the Ra­heny player con­sid­ered it a com­pli­ment, and promptly heaped praise on his team-mates Paul Man­nion, Ciarán Kilkenny and Jack McCaffrey for also keep­ing their heads when Ty­rone got a run early on.

It’s the sort of at­ti­tude and be­hav­iour which in­vari­ably com­ple­ments any sport­ing achieve­ment, and Clo­hisey also showed plenty of it after win­ning the Ir­ish na­tional marathon ti­tle on Sun­day. This is the prize which comes with be­ing the first fin­isher in the Dublin marathon, his home town race, Clo­hisey’s sixth place over­all in 2:15:58 ac­tu­ally the fastest by any Ir­ish man in Dublin since Gerry Healy ran 2:15:37 back in 1999, fin­ish­ing sec­ond over­all.

It was also Clo­hisey’s third marathon this year, after run­ning a per­sonal best of 2:14:55 in Seville back in Fe­bru­ary, then fin­ish­ing 18th at the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships in Ber­lin just 11 weeks ago, run­ning 2:18:00. At 32, the Ra­heny run­ner has also been a model of con­sis­tency over the last five years, win­ning a na­tional cross coun­try ti­tle and 10,000 me­tres on the track in 2014, be­fore mov­ing up to the marathon in his bid to qual­ify for the Rio Olympics.

In fact he ran the qual­i­fy­ing time twice, only for his Olympic dream to turn into a night­mare – an in­fected blis­ter first un­do­ing some crit­i­cal train­ing, be­fore a virus left him look­ing and feel­ing like a pale shadow of him­self on race day. He ran him­self to an ab­so­lute stand­still to fin­ish 103rd, his 2:26:34 over 11 min­utes out­side his best, and still there was no fear, no envy, and cer­tainly no mean­ness.

In­stead Clo­hisey has qui­etly gone about his run­ning busi­ness – for club and coun­try – clock­ing over 100 miles a week in train­ing, with no grant or shoe con­tract, work­ing and coach­ing part-time to pay the bills. He came back to fin­ish 22nd in the World Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don in 2017, a gen­tle throw­back to the days when more Ir­ish ath­letes com­peted with­out any fame or for­tune.

Neat salute

Don’t just take my word for it: his na­tional marathon win on Sun­day was also a neat salute to his coach and former three-time Dublin win­ner Dick Hooper, who first spot­ted his tal­ent when Clo­hisey was part of the St Paul’s team who won an Ir­ish schools cross coun­try ti­tle in 2003. Clo­hisey was only the third best run­ner on that team, and while the oth­ers promised more, one go­ing down the US schol­ar­ship trail, only Clo­hisey is still com­pet­ing, and there’s some good ad­vice in there for all run­ners.

“Mick wasn’t the stand­out ju­nior,” says Hooper, “and ac­tu­ally drifted away from the sport for a while in his early 20s, went trav­el­ling. But he never stopped run­ning com­pletely, and once he got his hunger back, just stuck with it, kept im­prov­ing bit by bit. And I def­i­nitely think his best is still to come.”

More than that Clo­hisey’s at­ti­tude, never com­plain­ing about any lack of me­dia cover­age, or curs­ing any per­ceived preva­lence of dop­ing, means he’s noth­ing to fear: the sec­ond best ath­lete to come out of Ra­heny this year?

‘‘ At 32, the Ra­heny run­ner has also been a model of con­sis­tency over the last five years, win­ning a na­tional cross coun­try ti­tle and 10,000 me­tres on the track in 2014, be­fore mov­ing up to the marathon in his bid to qual­ify for Rio

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.