After a break of over six months enforced by Covid, the Cork City Sports Athlete of the Month Awards resumed with the recipients for February, March and April receiving their presentations at The River Lee hotel.
Liam O’Brien, Technical Director of the Cork City Sports and one of the selectors, said it was under very unusual circumstances due to the little activity that had taken place since March that it was possible to honour the people present. He praised Cork City Sports Chairman, Tony O’Connell, saying he was very keen in continuing the monthly awards which have now been on the go for over a dozen years.
Charlie O’Donovan (University of Villanova and Leevale) received the Athlete of the Month Award for February. Running at the David Hemery Invitational indoor meet at Boston University, Charlie dipped under the magical four-minute barrier to win the one mile race. His time of 3.58.95 means Charlie now joins an illustrious list of Irish sub-four-minute milers.
As anyone who viewed the video of the race, the look on Charlie’s face when he crossed the line at the Boston meeting said it all, as he described: “The race went very well, I was in the third heat and although the second heat was supposed to be faster, my race was ideal as I was near the front all the way and only took the lead with about 80 metres to go. I had run 4:02 two weeks before, so to improve four seconds was great.”
Charlie became the 42nd athlete from Villanova to break the four minutes, joining such illustrious names as Ronnie Delany and Eamonn Coghlan plus fellow Corkmen John Hartnett, Marcus O’Sullivan and Ken Nason. Marcus is now Charlie’s coach at Villanova while Ken looked after him before his move to the famed Pennsylvania university.
Avril Millerick of St Mary’s High School, Midleton, and Youghal AC, was the recipient of the City Sports award for the month of March. At the Irish Life Health All-Ireland Schools Cross-Country at Santry, despite losing a shoe, Avril produced a marvellous performance to secure the individual bronze medal in a very competitive Intermediate Girls race.
This came after she had easily won the Munster Schools’ over a tough course at Ennis and she was well pleased with both performances: “I was very happy considering I lost a spike in the first one hundred metres at Santry and I really enjoyed the course at Clare and thought it wasn’t as tough as some people found it.”
Her third place in the All-Irelands qualified Avril for the Irish team for the SIAB Schools Cross-Country in Scotland but unfortunately this was cancelled due to the Covid-19 virus. “That was very disappointing, although I went to Scotland earlier in the year for the Celtic International where I finished seventh overall,” said Avril, who has another year in the intermediate grade.
A man who has over 60 years involvement in athletics was the surprise recipient of the April award. Paddy Buckley of St Finbarr’s AC and current chairman of the Cork Athletics Board was recognised for his lifetime contribution to the sport.
Initially as an athlete – along with his well-known brothers John and Denis – and later as coach at St Finbarrs, Paddy’s mammoth contribution over the decades is richly deserved. “To be honest, I didn’t expect this honour at this stage of my life,” he admitted. “I suppose I was never very exciting as an athlete, it was mostly in administration that I was involved in. I must say that the Cork City Sports are doing great work for athletics, especially with these monthly awards.”