Blackrock’s 75th bash

by Stephen Findlater

BLACKOCK Athletics Club is looking forward to celebrating their 75th anniversary in style on November 2 at the Radission Blu St Helen’s.

It follows a storied history, detailed in Tom Kelly’s book about the club which will be launched at the event, dating back to the second World War when seven members came together at the old schoolhouse in Booterstown in 1944.

Since then, the club has withstood many testing times, almost going out of existence on a couple of occasions but the black and gold colours are now back and soaring at their home in Carysfort Park.

During that time, the club has been the home of many famous faces including Phil Conway who competed in the 1972 Olympics in the shot putt and hammer. Gerry Curtis was a star marathon runner in the 1908s and early 90s, running his personal best in Boston – a 2.14:37 – in 1990.

Other members traversed sports with former Irish rugby captain – and 1974 Lion – Tom Grace donning the club singlet. Current member Tommy O’Brien is the Irish Under-20 rugby skipper while his father Michael is a club coach, showcasing the family connections that have helped build the club.

More leftfield Blackrock alumni include champion jockey Pat Eddery from his spell living in the locality as was former Miss Ireland Adrienne Rock.

From recent times, Sarah Healy has been one of the most exciting talents in Irish athletics in recent years. The 18-year-old enjoyed a glittering youth career, crowned by gold at the 2018 European Under-18 Athletics Championship in Hungary, and she is starting to make waves in the adult realm.

For club chairman Barry Thornton, he says she is the perfect ambassador for the club:

“Her achievements are one thing but she is a truly fantastic person, exactly the kind of role model in everything she does. We presented her with a club award last Christmas and she was so grateful, thanking all the club members who had helped her with absolutely no ego.”

As for the club’s health, he said while Blackrock had “some lean times in the 1990s”, it is undergoing “incredible growth” of later.

“Part of it came from a group of dedicated volunteers who came together and asked what do we want to with the club. The other side is there is huge interest in Ireland now in athletics in the Dublin area. You only have to see the Dublin marathon selling out now months in advance; before, you could almost turn up on the day.”

He says the growth has been on both the competitive, development and social sides with over 100 youths involved while their Fit4Life groups are also swelling in numbers. They have already sold over 100 tickets for the gala dinner in November.

The club are keen to also get in touch with any former members who played a part in the club’s history. Longstanding club member Tom Kelly is the designated contact and can be called on 087 691 0077 for anyone who would like to reconnect with Blackrock AC.

Related Articles