Remarkable achievement on world stage for late starter

Posted on: 17th January, 2017

Category: Sport & Fitness

Contributor: John Bohane

Marathon runner Alex O’Shea, who resides in Ballineen, achieved his lifelong dream when he represented Ireland at the 100km World Championships, which were held in Los Alcazares, Spain recently. John Bohane caught up with the Cork athlete who spoke of his pride at representing Ireland in international athletics action.

“Representing Ireland has definitely been the highlight of my running career to-date. It was both a proud and amazing moment. The Irish singlet I wore on the day of the race was washed straight away ready to be framed when I get around to it. It is a very special and super memory, which I will treasure and remember forever. It was a very proud moment for both my family and I.”

Alex’s recent appearance on the Ireland athletics team at the World Championships was the first time he ever wore the green singlet, which added to the allure of the occasion for the Carrigaline native. “It meant a lot to me. It was a really special and historic occasion and, at 42, I guess I was running out of time to make it happen.”

Alex is indebted to his wife Audrey and his kids whose constant support, encouragement and help has propelled him to international recognition. “My family has been so supportive. They have been a great help every step of my sporting journey. They have been a great support for me, to the extent that my kids could hold an adult conversation with me about nutrition, running marathons and ultras. My wife Audrey has even started studying a Masters in Sports Psychology. I treasure their support greatly.”

Alex’s journey to international recognition is incredible. He only participated in his first marathon in 2014, when he completed the Cork Marathon in his fire brigade uniform to raise funds for the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind and a playground development fund in Ballineen. Alex completed the marathon in a time of 3.41.10, which shaved 58 minutes off the previous world record. It was an incredible record for the modest marathon hero who always maintained an interest in athletics growing up, but never pursued it with much intent until recently. “I was chasing a Guinness World Record with my first marathon and had nothing to lose. I trained hard for a year and the whole experience was surreal. It was a great experience. The response from the general public to my run was great. I met sporting legends like Roy Keane, Sonia O’Sullivan and Rob Heffernan, while my charities benefited greatly from the occasion also. I was a bit sporty growing up, but my sister was the runner in the family. I really only applied myself as an adult to running, I trained for the Dublin Marathon when I was 15, but wasn’t allowed run it, as I was too young, so that put an end to my running. I returned to complete the Dublin Marathon this year where I finished third in the over 40 category in the National Championships.”

Alex has thrived since pursuing his long-term interest in marathon running. He is delighted he took up running in 2013 as he recalled. “I was never fast so I felt longer races would suit my style, but like most people the thought of completing a marathon was a scary prospect. But once I conquered it the first time, I quickly started to look at competing in more events. I think marathons are brilliant, whether you’re goal is to try to win or try to finish the event. Marathon medals are never given out, they are earned. I know people that can run Olympic qualifying marathon times and I know people that have walked marathons. I have so much respect for both as people that take part at whatever level deserve great praise. Speed doesn’t equal effort as so many people put in so much effort and have amazing stories to tell after completing marathons. If I wasn’t running I’d love to be involved in some way possible, perhaps in a photography capacity and trying to capture some of these amazing stories.”

Alex has lived in West Cork for over 12 years. “I love living in Ballineen. It is a great place to bring up the kids. Clonakilty is only over the road for the beach and of course there are plenty of great restaurants near by.”

Alex recorded an impressive personal best at the recent World Championships. Following initial disappointment with his performance, the Cork athlete was happy with his performance following a period of reflection. “When I finished the race, I rang home straight away, as I am used to having my family by my side and I wanted to share the news with them first. I told Audrey that ‘It was a day for celebrating my Irish vest, and tomorrow I would dissect my performance’. I wasn’t happy with my performance initially, as I clearly made a few mistakes and over the course of the last 15km or so, I was suffering as a result and lost a lot of time. When the dust settled however, I was thrilled with my performance and I am confident I can do better. That is a good feeling to have at the end of a race, recording a PB and possessing a feeling I can run better. I also learned a lot from the event.”

Alex works his gruelling training regime around his full-time job as a fireman based in Cork. He looks after his diet meticulously, while he plans to add more gym time to his training programme in the coming months.

“When I work days, I start shifts at 9am but I run 13 miles before work. When I am on night shift duty, I train coming off shift. I need to start adding some gym work, but it’s difficult to find the time. Running is easier to fit in, as I put on the runners and go for a run after work or before work in the early morning. I always fit in long runs at the weekends. I try to eat very healthy, but it is hard to refuse a slice of cake.”

Alex took a break from training to enjoy the Christmas season with his family but has returned to his intense training sessions with renewed vigour. An immediate short-term target for the ambitious athlete is the 24-hour World Championships, which are due to be held in Belfast in July 2017. “ My short term aim is to represent Ireland at the 24hr World Championships in Belfast next year, while from a long-term perspective, I have set a target of wearing more Irish vests at ultra running, as it is such an honour to represent Ireland.”

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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.
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20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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