Patsy Fitzgerald

 

The term Laogh aptly describes Patsy and his exploits in the sporting fields of Tipperary and further afield oftentimes had the hillsides ablaze  around Glengoole  to celebrate after another of his famous victories.  Patsy was born to be a winner , as his late father was an All Ireland senior hurling medal winner in 1908 with Tom Semple’s famous Thurles Blues.

While Patsy was no mean hurler himself, he never attained the status if his father.  He played at midfield in 1956, when Glengoole captured their first Divisional Junior title in  defeating Clonmore/Killea by a one point margin and it was a crucial goal by man of the match Fitzgerald that led to the victory. 

At a time when there was a very close allegiance between the GAA and athletics he really made his name.  In 1946 the young Fitzgerald took the scene by storm, when, as a wiry 17 year-old, he captured his first senior All Ireland cross-country championship in Mount Merion, Dublin, passing the winning post 200 yards ahead of the next competitor.  By 1952 he had achieved a record that may never be equalled when he won his fifth senior title in a row.  His athletic prowess took him all over the world and he never failed to do himself justice.  In 1954 he crowned a glorious carer in athletics, at club, county, All Ireland and International level when he captured the 10 mile championship of Ireland , breaking the record for the distance. 

 

The foregoing is the accreditation which was part of  a presentation  made to Patsy Fitzgerald by then GAA President Nicky Brennan in 2008.  It’s a nice summary of the man’s achievements and his status in Tipperary Sporting Folklore. Photograph

 

The  Beginning
Patsy Fitzgerald from Poynstown, Glengoole  is remembered as one of the best athletes that
Tipperary and Ireland ever produced. He came into the sport of athletics by complete chance when as a teenager on a Sunday afternoon, with nothing better to do, he went to see athletes training for a race in the locality and from what he saw decided he could run as fast as any of them. That was over sixty years ago and he  decided to get involved in the hope of being involved in an upcoming a trip to Dublin for a race. The following Sunday he entered for the Tipperary novice cross country championship and literally ran away with the race to blaze a trail of a most illuminating career in Irish athletics, victories as astonishing as they were almost incredible. He was then selected on the Tipperary team for the All Ireland junior Cross Country championship at Ballinasloe, Co. Galway in 1946 and from an entry of 13 teams, he spread-eagled the big field to win comfortably and lead Tipperary to victory. The All Ireland senior championship, over the then standard distance of nine miles, was fixed for Mount Merrion Dublin and the Tipperary mentors decided that Patsy was too young to compete that gruelling test. He travelled to the race as a spectator, When his neighbour and team member Tom Fitzgerald was unable to start, due to injury , it was decided, on the intervention of Tom Healy, Coolcroo ,(Team manager) that Patsy would take his place.  One Tipperary official said it was madness to run young Fitzgerald, as  he was running against all senior experienced athletes including John Joe Barry, the famous "Ballincurry Hare". 
Midway through the race he was running alongside team mate,  Patsy Carroll, and asked the more experienced athlete would they be going any quicker. Carroll replied 'I can’t anyhow, and they won’t go any quicker; can you' ?  Patsy  replied  “I can run faster”  and he took off and gradually reeled in the field to achieve an historic win by 200 yards,  a  great feat for a teenager. Imagine his father's surprise that night when he tuned into Radio Eireann to hear the race result and see how neighbour Tom Fitzgerald fared. However, the announcer regaled the merits of the young Patsy and his dad found it difficult to believe!   
A correspondent under the pen-name 'Galteemore" writing in the Clonmel Nationalist on April 13 th. 1946 acclaimed his achievement  thus

“ Magnificent Tipperary;  These famous words came to our mind on seeing the blue clad boys of Tiobraid Arann sweep forward to victory in the senior All  Ireland cross-country championship at Mount Merrion, Dublin.  They had seven men in the first eight to finish the gruelling course, since the race the bold facts of the race have been told and re-told throughout the country. There were exciting scenes at the finish as the Tipperary contingent was exuberant with joy at this gallant and superb display by our boys.  What excitement as that  gallant little thoroughbred gorsoon, Patsy Fitzgerald of  Glengoole  raced home to any easy victory for the individual title - a title that acclaimed him to be the best cross-country runner in Ireland at the early age of seventeen years and a bit. Who could believe it - yet such was the case. Down the finishing straight he tore, between lines of excited spectators,  some of them wildly gastrulating as they saw the youthful Tipperary boy leave all opposition behind and win by nearly 200 yards at the speed of a sprint finalist. I spoke to him afterwards and he was the least excited 'man' on the field - not a puff out of him - he did not turn a hair as a result of his great effort. Here we thought was a champion already but a champion of champions in the making. Was it any wonder that our hearts went out to the magnificent incomparable boy, from the plains of Tipperary; who could win and did win in fine or foul weather conditions as proved decisively at Ballinasloe in a snowstorm and in Dublin in a broiling sun. Who says Knocknagow is gone” 

Photograph

He then decided to change his allegiance from the NACA(I) to the AAU and joined the recently affiliated Coolcroo club. Patsy and the club made their debut in the AAU All Ireland in a snow covered course
Belfast in 1947 for the All Ireland junior. Patsy surprised the star-studded assembled field including Kevin Maguire who had previously beaten John Joe Barry, Fitzgerald won in a canter, and Coolcroo won the team prize.  Photograph

A long abiding memory Patsy has of that race was when the athletes came back to tog in in nearby public house, Tom Healy (team manager and Irish mile champion in 1941) had a number of pints of ‘Guinness’ waiting to quench their thirst. Although a non-drinker, Patsy could see Tom's appreciation of their efforts.

 

During his career Patsy Fitzgerald won 34 All Ireland gold medals  individual and team He won several Co Tipperary championship medals on track and cross country, AAU & NACA(I). He won seven All Ireland Senior Cross Counrty titles including  five  in a  row,  On the track he did not race very much . However when he did he was also successful winning Irish titles  over 3 miles and 10 miles beating  the best track athletes  of that period in the process. 

He represented Ireland  in International cross-country competitions on six occasions.

He was a member of teams that consisted of such great Irish runners as his club mates Jerry Kiely, Paddy Fahey, Jimmy Sweeney, Tom Fitzgerald, John Caesar, Larry Donnelly; Steve McCooke, (East Antrim), John Joe Barry (Tipperary), Kevin Maguire (Donore Hrs),  Michael O'Connell (Clonliffe & Clare), Charlie Owens and John Diamond (Co. Mayo.

 

INTERNATIONAL CROSS COUNTRY APPEARANCES WITH IRELAND.
1947:   At Hippodrome de St.Cloud, Paris on Sunday 30th March: 14.5 km.
1948: At Leighton Park,
Reading on Saturday 3rd April:  14.5 km.
1949: Baldoyle Racecourse,
Dublin on Saturday 26th March.  14.5 km.
1950: Hippodrome
de Boitsfort, Belgium on Saturday, March 25th.  14.5 km.
1951: Caerleon Racecourse,
Newport, Wales on Saturday March 31st. 14.9 km.
1952:
Hamilton Park, Glasgow on Saturday 22nd, March.   14.5 km.

 

Olympic Prospect

In 1952 Patsy won the All Ireland 10 miles flat A.A.U.E All Ireland championship at Shelbourne Stadium, Dublin from a field of fourteen of the best distance men in the Country. His achievements suggested that he was an Olympic prospect for that year’s Olympics in Helsinki. Patsy won the three miles pre-Olympic races in Dublin and Belfast, but was just outside the qualifying time. His mother suggested to him that he should make a greater effort to reach the qualifing standard  but he had not enough interest for such a journey and did not bother in trying to qualify.  The same thinking was behind his decision to decline an invitation to go to America to become part of the World Famous Athletics  coach Jumbo Elliott’s squad at  Villanona University.  “Jumbo” Elliott” was coach to 28 Olympic Competitors including 5 gold medallists.. His athletes  set 22 world records outdoors and another 44 indoors.  He was also coach to Ronnie Delaney (1500m Gold Medal Winner Melbourne 1956) and Eamon Coughlan (World  5000  Champion, Helsinke 1983)

When his AAU  days came to an end Patsy Fitzgerald returned to the NACA and joined the Ballincurry club winning county and All Ireland Senior cross country titles.

 

Athletics Training in the 1940’s
Speaking on training methods during the 1940's Patsy Fitzgerald remembers the hard work of the period with farmers up early milking cows, working all day in the gardens, ploughing and tilling with horses and the other farm chores before mechanisation.. It was the age of compulsory tillage in
Ireland. Their training mainly consisted of a race or run on a Sunday and plenty of road walking in the dark at night. When asked by other athletes what type of training he was doing they did not believe him and thought he was having them on.  Gym or track work did not figure in their schedules as it was not part of the culture of the time and in any case there were none around.   

 Patsy Fitzgerald was one of the "natural" athletes of his era and his training methods to-day would be considered inadequate and  unorthodox but for the
Tipperary man the system proved effective. After his initial cross country experiences he learned how to pace himself during a race and not to allow too big a gap to open. His devastating finishing burst always proved decisive.  He was noted for how fresh he was after a race with the typical comment being “there was not a puff out of him”   To the possible annoyance of the other athletes he was continuously talking during his races when others were gasping for air. 

Patsy remembers, with fondness, his association with the Healy family of Coolcroo, and the influence they had on his running career. Also he has fond memories of the famous Billy Morton of Clonliffe Harriers and the inspiration behind the construction of Morton Stadium in
Dublin. Amongst Patsy’s memorabilia is a lifetime free pass into the Stadium.   In 1947 when competing in the in the youths (Under 18) one mile championship of Ireland   he felt a little bit embarrassed having won the Senior Cross Country earlier in the year. He was toying with the opposition until Billy Morton shouted at him  get on with the race “He stormed onto the lead and won easily. It was also Billy Morton who tried to persuade him to take up the offer from Villanova University early in his career.

 

What If

Speaking to Patsy about his career was an absolute pleasure.  His recall of the events of the time, including the people he came in contact with is still crystal clear and the pleasure he got from the whole athletic experience still shines through.

He is quite happy with his achievements and had no regrets.  However I got the impression that he wonders what he could have achieved had he really put his mind to it and made an effort to achieve the Olympic qualifying time or accepted the opportunity to go to the US.  He saw athletics as fun and something  kind of local to be enjoyed’ which he certainly did.

After his athletic career he got involved in flying, being the holder of a pilots  licence He also spent some time training greyhounds.  His flying career, which was purely a hobby, was with the Central Flying Group, Thurles. On the day of the official launch of the club Minister Charlie Haughey was on hand to do the honours.  The whole thing went fine including a lunch in Hayes Hotel with the Minister.  The only thing missing was an  aeroplane. 

 

Press Coverage

The press of the time carried such headlines as - "Fitzgerald and Coolcroo show the way"; "Is Tipp Youth, Fitzgerald 'Another Barry'"; "Another Tipperary Victory - Barry Outshone By Fitzgerald"; "Fitzgerald Takes All Ireland Cross-Country Championship".  On one occasion he was photographed on the front page of The Irish Independent after an All  Ireland success. Photograph 

 

Below are some of the press cutting.

 

Tipperary Have ‘ Another Barry’ For Cross-Country Test

Thirteen teams representing twelve counties will contest the All-Ireland Junior Cross-Country Championship  (NACA) at Ballinasloe on Sunday when “another Barry” may come to light

The man referred to is P. Fitzgerald, who hails from the same county Tipperary as J Barry.  He ran away with the Tipperary Novice and Junior Championships recently and according to Mr J. Conaghan, (Hon Sec. of the NACA) is reckoned to be very little behind the famous Barry down Tipperary way .

Tipperary are confident of retaining the championship, but they will have their work cut out to do so, for Galway, who will have the advantage of being on home ground.  Clare, Dublin, Meath and Sligo are all strong challengers, while Limerick, who reappear after a lapse of some years, are also hopeful of success .

The tussle  for individual honours should be interesting, though if P. Fitzgerald is as good as we are led to  believe it will probably be a case of who will be second.  The Leinster champion, P. Daly ( Meath) must have a chance while the Dublin number one will likely be there or there about at the finish

The race it timed to start at 3.45pm.

 

The stations and teams are as follows

No 1:- Monaghan. J. Curley,  J. Gormley, M. Fitzsimons, P. Pritchard,  A.Reid,  M McNally  J. Todd,  H McKenna.  L. Todd,  P. McKernan, M. McKenna,  M Curley.

Subs.  N Todd and J Skinnader

No 2:-  Galway No 1.  M. Nicholson,  D. Cogan,  D. Ryan,  E Gardiner,  C Piggott,  P. Cunniffe,  M. Gardiner,  B Goode,  B. Regan.  A. Browne,  C. Browne,  J.M. Dempsey.  Subs  J Burke,  P Forde  A. Moylan  

No 3 Mayo  J. Diomand,  M Dunleary  J. Nihill,  M. McEllin,  J Conboy,  E Horan  P. Forde,  J Walsh,  M Gibbons  J. Slogan

No 4  Sligo.  V Harte,  T. Ross,  R Kivlehan, R Milne,  F Kivlehan,  J McCarrick,  W Donohoe, E Ross. P Higgins, J O’Rourke,  T Brennen  T Martin, Sub  A Byrne.

No 5  Westmeath.  C Brennan, J Leavy,  P Jordan,  D Devine,  T Gaye,  J Flynn,  C Gorman,  Lieut  McGonigal, S Boylan,  A Boylan,  Pte Walsh,  Pte McGovern  Subs.  Sgt Byrne,  Pte Carty.  T Keogh

No 6  Galway No 2  A Moylan.  L Goode.  P  Goode,  P Glynn,  F Stephenson., J Menton,  P Bergin  T Ryan, J Burke,  P Keane.  H Keady B Kely  Subs, M Keady,  J Mahon,  E Miley.

No 7  Meath.  P Daly,  P Maguire.  M Monaghan, F Maguire,  P Walsh,  J Swan, D Darby,  W Byrne,  P McGuinness, L Daly, P Reid,  P Monaghan, D  Subs  P Kelly,  P Crosbie,  T  Regan  

No 8  Limerick  L Hurley, t Cahill,  M O’Brien,  M Fitzgerald,  P Dineen,  M Burke,  T McCann,  J Brodrick,  J Fitzgerald

No 9  Dublin  P McMahon,  B Bell,  J Corcoran,  J Butler,  P Collery, J Hayden,  Cpl Keoghr McLoone,  P Dwyer,  P Molumby,  W Worrell,  A Nulty,  Subs  Sgt Ryan, P Farrell,  L Monahan

No 10  Tipperary,  P. Fitzgrald,  T Fitzgerald,, D Kennedy, M Kelly,  M  Cleary,  P Leatham, P Flaherty,  P Sheedy,  M Barrett, M Doheny J. Caeser,  M Moloney  Subs  T Treacy,  W Sparrow  D Noonan

No 11 Clare,  W Carey, J McGrath,  M O’Connell,  P Cummins,  B Nash,  M Murphy, C McInerney,  K O’Gorman, J Collins, M Talty,  J Rynne,  J Halpin

No 12  Antrim.  C McCavock,  C O’Hare,  D Mulvenna,  D McBride,  P McCabe,  H Crilly,  W Walsh,   G Coulter,   W.G. Mckee  J McCann,  J Delaney,  P Walsh  Subs  J Rafferty,  H McKee,  J McCann

No 13  Offaly  A Dooley, P Matthews, M Powell,  T Murphy, M Parlow,  J Morrissey,  G Warrell,  T Bergin,  P Bannon,  P. O’Brien.  T Brereton,  J Mulrooney  Subs, J Dooley, J.J.Hayes  J Rogers    

 

Fitzgerald Helps Tipperary To Cross-Country Double

 

TIPPERARY won the All-Ireland Junior Cross-Country for the second year in succession at Bal­linasloe yesterday, and once again they had the first man home, P Fitzgerald emulating Barry's per­formance of last season, winning by 300 yards from J. Diamond, of  Mayo, in 21 mins. 59 secs. Corcoran, of Dublin. was the leader in the to the first lap and Diamond made the running on the second, when Tipperary had installed themselves as  favourites for honours, having five men up in the first twelve places this stage. 

Fitzgerald then became leader and running beautifully, had a lead 150 yards entering the last lap. Adverse weather conditions made the going difficult, the race being run in heavy snow showers. Nevertheless. 98  of the 130 who competed from 13 counties finished the course,

 

Individual:-

1.  P. Fitzgerald, 

2. J. Dimond, Mayo.

3 P Leathem  Tipperary. 

4. J Cogan   Galway. 

5. A. Dooley, Offaly. 

6.  J. Stevenson, Galway 

Time  21mins 59secs

 

Teams:- 

1. Tipperary  1, 3, 7, 8, 9, 11   39pts 

2  Galway  4, 12, 13, 16, 17, 21.   83pts. 

3   Dublin.  10, 19, 27, 32, 33, 35    156pts. 

 

 

Coolcroo  Ran Away" With A.A.U. Championship

 

Running barefoot, over a nine miles snow-covered course, Coolcroo Athletic Club had a runaway victory in the A.A.U. Senior Cross-Country Championship at Finglas, Dublin, on Saturday. Their total of 30 points would have beaten a team composed of all the other, clubs in the race.

Supplying the winner in the person of Patsy Fitzgerald, and finishing seven men in the first twelve, Coolcroo completed a notable double, having won the Six Counties A.A.A. Junior Championship at Bel­fast a fortnight previously.

FITZGERALD'S GREAT WIN

L. Donnelly (Coolcroo), K. Maguire (the ex-Army runner, now of Donore Harriers), P. Haughey, also of Donore, and John Caesar (Coolcroo) ran abreast throughout the major portion of the race, Patsy Fitzgerald being content to remain behind. But he forged ahead with Maguire, entering the last lap, and going up the "straight" they were neck and neck. It was only in the last forty or fifty yards that Fitzgerald got his chest in front to, win a great race.  Fitzgerald ran well within himself throughout the race  He finished very fresh in sharp contract to Maguire  Though Maguire was only two seconds behind he was well spent and collapsed after crossing the line.

On Saturday, March 9th, Fitz­prald will meet S. McCooke, the Northern Ireland crack, in the Senior Championship of the A.A.U. and the N.I.A A.A. in Dublin and the meeting of the pair should prove attractive.

 

PLACINGS AND TIMES

1—P. Fitzgerald. Coolcroo- 54mins. 3secs

2—K. Maguire, Donore-54 mins. 5 secs.

3—L. Donnelly, Coolcroo-54 min 6 sees.

4—P. Haughey, Donore-54 mins. 12 secs

5—T. Fitzgerald, Cooloroo, 54 mins. 31 secs.

6—J. Caesar, Coolcroo-54 mins. 33 secs.

7—J.Sweeney Coolcroo-55 mins. 23secs

8—L. Fanning, Coolcroo-56 mins. 10 secs.

9—G. Smyth, Donore-56 mins. 28 sees. '

10—W. B. Powell, Dublin University-56 mins.30secs.

11—J. Crossan, Civil Service-56 mins  46 secs.

12--D. Kennedy, Coolcroo-56 mins. 46 secs.

 

Team Placings

I—Coolcroo (1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8)-30 points.

2—Donore (2, 4, 9, 17, 19, 22) -73

3—Clonliffe 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 20 -92

4—Civil Service  10, 16, 24, 26, 30, 32 -138

5—Clonliffe “B  33,  34, 35, 37, 38, 39 -216

 

 

 

Tipperary Runners Win Again

Fitzgerald  Takes Cross Country Championship

Former international runner, Patsy Fitzgerald, of Tipperary, signalled his return to the N.A.C.A. in convincing fashion at the U.C.D. grounds, Belfield, Dublin, yesterday, when winning the All-Ireland inter-county, senior cross-country championship from the representatives of five other counties

  His success, which was his second in the championship, the other being scored in 1946 at Mount Merrion, was most decisive , and once he shook off his county man, Sean Hayden, going into the final, two and a quarter mile, lap he was never in danger of being beaten.

   His time of 43 minutes 35 seconds, for the 9 miles, speaks for his immaculate display, which was witnessed by one of the largest attendances, at this event, for several years.  It gave him a twenty seconds advantage, without having to extend himself, over Hayden  and was 5 minutes 6 seconds faster than that returned by last year’s winner, Willie Morris of Galway, who yesterday filled fifth position

 

TIPPERARY AGAIN

  Fitzgerald and Hayden led Tipperary to yet another team success, their ninth in the series, thus retaining their unbroken chain in wins in this All Ireland race since it became an inter-county test in 1945.   The exception, in ten years, was in 1952 when the event was held on an inter-club basis and was won by a Galway club 

  The Premier County, with their scoring six home in the first fourteen for a total of forty-eight points had twenty five points to spare over their great and  gallant  rivals Galway with the All-Ireland junior champions, Limerick in third place.

  All-Ireland junior champion Paddy Killeen of Dublin, who was expected to be the real danger to Fitzgerald, had to be content with sixth position, but did exceptionally well in this class field of tried and tested runners.  At 19 he is almost certain to have his turn in the near future.  Kildare pair of individual entries, Andy Fitzsimons and Kelly set a cracking pace and were the early leaders.  Fitzgerald and Killeen moved up through the field and with Hayden and Madden (Galway) formed the leading quartet at the end of the first lap which Fitzgerald completed in 10 minutes 35 seconds

   Next time round Fitzgerald and Hayden were running side by side with Killeen and the Limerick man, Tommy Walsh, in fourth position.  The title holder Morris was in fifth position.  The time at the halfway mark was 21 minutes 31 seconds.

   At the bell Fitzgerald pulled slightly ahead of Hayden with Andy Monaghan, second two years ago, now in third position and the Limerick runner Tom Walsh fourth.    Morris was fifth, Killeen sixth and another Dublin man Sean Fitzell seventh and those positions were maintained until the tape was reached.

 

SENIOR 9 MILES

Individual Placings:-  1. P Fitzgerald Tipperary 43Mins 35 Secs.  2.  S Hayden. Tipperary 43.55  3.  A Monaghan Galway 44.15,  4. T Walsh  Limerick  44.22  5 W. Morris Galway  44.27,  6  P Killeen Dublin  44.52  7 S Fitzell  Dublin, 44.53  8  W. McKenna. Limerick  44.57,  9  T Kelly  Tipperary  45.09,  10 J Hanley  Tipperary  45.15  11 P Hannify  Galway  45.15  12 M Cleary Tipperary 45.19

 

Team Placings  1 Tipperary 1, 2, 9, 10, 12, 14 48pts  2  Galway  3, 5, 11, 13, 19 22   73pts.  3 Limerick  4, 8, 15, 16, 20, 31.  94pts   4  Dublin

6, 7,  23,  27,  44,  49  156pts ,   5 Clare  17, 25, 26, 29  30, 35  162pts    Incomplete  Wexford

 

 

 

MAGNIFICENT TIPPERARY! STORY OF A GREAT VICTORY

(By GALTEEMORE)

 

A correspondent under the pen-name 'Galteemore" writing in the Clonmel Nationalist on April 13 th. 1946 acclaimed the achievement of winning the All  Ireland thus ' Magnificent Tipperary;  These famous words came to our mind on seeing the blue clad boys of Tiobraid Arann sweep forward to victory in the senior All  Ireland cross-country championship at Mount Merrion, Dublin.  They had seven men in the first eight to finish the gruelling course, since the race the bold facts of the race have been told and re-told throughout the country. There were exciting scenes at the finish as the Tipperary contingent was exuberant with joy at this gallant and superb display by our boys.  What excitement as that  gallant little thoroughbred gorsoon, Patsy Fitzgerald of Glengoole  raced home to any easy victory for the individual title - a title that acclaimed him to be the best cross-country runner in Ireland at the early age of seventeen years and a bit. Who could believe it - yet such was the case. Down the finishing straight he tore, between lines of excited spectators, some of them wildly gastrulating as they saw the youthful Tipperary boy leave all opposition behind and win by nearly 200 yards at the speed of a sprint finalist. I spoke to him afterwards and he was the least excited 'man' on the field - not a puff out of him - he did not turn a hair as a result of his great effort. Here we thought was a champion already but a champion of champions in the making. Was it any wonder that our hearts went out to the magnificent incomparable boy, from the plains of Tipperary; who could win and did win in fine or foul weather conditions as proved decisively at Ballinasloe in a snowstorm and in Dublin in a broiling sun. Who says Knocknagow is gone  He then decided to change his allegiance from the NACA(I) to the AAU and joined the recently affiliated Coolcroo club. Patsy and the club made their debut in the AAU All Ireland in a snow covered course Belfast in 1947 for the All Ireland junior. Patsy surprised the star-studded assembled field including Kevin Maguire who had previously beaten John Joe Barry, Fitzgerald won in a canter, and Coolcroo won team prize              

Glengoole  Ablaze  For Victors  Homecoming

 

A Correspondent writes:-

   Glengoole was ablaze to welcome Patsy Fitzgerald home after his magnificent win,  The car which brought Patsy and Tom from Thurles was met outside the village by a large crowd of men, women and children, young and old, and the two were carried shoulder high through the village which was lit up by the fires on the surrounding hills There were bonfires near the hall where a great welcome awaited them. Patsy did certainly create  a surprise by winning the National Senior in such a convincing fashion.  He surely proved the dark horse of the trace by beating, and beating well, all those fancied and likely to win  He was considered far too young, by the judges, for such a long distance race. His club mate Tom never doubted him as a winner and must be congratulated on standing down to let Patsy bring individual honours to Tipperary 

 

Coo1croo Show The Way

C00LCROO A.C., winners of the Junior Championship at Bel­fast a fortnight ago, ran away with the A.A.U. Senior Cross-Country Championship at Finglas, Dublin, on Saturday.

The Co. Tipperary Club supplied the individual winner in P. Fitz­gerald, who won the Junior Championship at Belfast a fortnight ago and who last year put the junior and senior races of the NACA to his credit, and their scoring team of six finished within the first eight places.

Were it not .that Maguire and Haughey (the ex-Army men,) who. last year were first and second respectively when running under the colours of the  Bro,wnstown (Co. Kildare) Club, finished amongst the Coolcroo team, the latter might have scored the minimum  number of points.

          As it was, their total of 30 points  would have beaten a team composed of all the other clubs in the  race.

Although the snow did not fall dur­ing the race, the ground was well covered, and the nine miles proved a very severe test.

 

 

INDIVIDUAL PLACINGS.

I.       P. Fitzgerald (Coolcroo), 54 mins. 3 secs

2.       K. Maguire (Donore), 54 mins. 5 Sees.

3        Donnelly (Coolcroo), 54 mins.  6 secs.

4        P. Haughey (Donore), 54 mins 12 sees.

5        T. Fitzgerald (Coolcroo), 54 mins. 31 sees.

6        J. Caesar (Coolcroo), 54 mins. 38  secs.

7        J. Sweeney (Coolcroo), 55 mins  23 secs
8        J. Fanning (Coolcroo), 56 mins. 10 secs.

9        G. Smyth (Donore), 56' mins. 28

10      W. B. Powell (Dublin Univer­sity), 56 mins. 30 secs.

11      J. Crossan (Civil, Service), 56 mins   45 secs

12      D. Kennedy (Coolcroo), 56mins.  46 secs.

 

TEAM PLACINGS.

1   Coolcroo-  1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8   30pts

2  Donore-2, 4, 9, 17, 19, 22  73 points.

3  Clonliffe-12, 13, q4, 15, 18, 20  92 points

 

 

 

 

Tipp. Youth's Double

P Fitzgerald (Gortnahoe) a 17year old youth won the Co. Tipperary junior cross-country title. at Coolquill from a field of 100. He had won the novice title three weeks pre­viously. M. Kelly (Coolquill) was second, and M. Clery (Moneygall). third.

Team placings-

1, Coolquill (63 pts.)  

2. Moneygall (65);

3, Tobberadora (123)

4, Ballincurry (164);

5, Nenagh  (282).

 

 

Patsy Fitzgerald

Tipperary Athlete of the Past

 

At a function in Thurles, Mr Michael Guinan, Chairman of Tipperary B.L.E. made a pre­sentation to Patsy Fitzgerald, Gortnahoe, who was chosen Tipperary Athlete of the Past for 1983.  In making the presentation, Mr Guinan said that Patsy Fitz­gerald's- was truly a fairytale story. He added:

It was 1946 in Gortnahoe that he ran his first cross country race — the county novice. He duly won it and followed that with a win in the junior — a fine perfor­mance but nothing extraordinary. Next, he traveled to Galway for the national junior event and won that. There was now a slight pause, for it was time for the county senior and he was deemed too young to compete. Then we had the highlight of the year, the national senior in Dublin. He decided to travel with the team as a spectator. Before the race, it was discovered that a namesake of his had not turned out so he  borrowed a shorts and ran and won. He was then the ripe old age of 17. It was a truly extraordinary accomplishment.

The following year, he joined the Healys of Coolcroo who were then competing with the A.A.U. He won the All-Ireland junior in Belfast and the A.A.U. senior in Dublin. Over the next few years, he collected two more senior titles. In 1947, he competed in the international cross country in Paris. He was to follow that up with at least four more inter­nationals. His best placing was 23rd in England in 1948. On the track, he also had a number of successes winning Irish 3 miles and 10 mile titles. At an early stage, he was also offered a scholarship to the famous Villanova University. In 1954, he returned to the N.A.C.A. and won the county and Irish senior   championships. Sadly, this was to be the beginning of the end of an illustrious but all too short athletics career of the great Patsy Fitzgerald whom we honour here tonight as the Tipperary Athlete of the Past for 1983.

 



Patsy Fitzgerald Honoured

 

At the recent Tipperary Co. Board BLE/BLOE: dinner, Patsy Fitzgerald was honoured as the "Tipperary Athlete of the Past." The national president of BLE, Rev. Fr. O'Donnell. travelled all the way from Belfast to make the presentation on behalf of the County board. To mark the occasion, Father O'Donnell also made a presentation to Patsy on behalf of the club.

 

Patsy’s list of achievements was so outstanding that they were almost incredible. At the age of 17 he won the All-Ireland youths, novice and senior cross-country titles all in the one year. For the next ten years he won the All-Ireland cross-country title on a regular basis as well as many track titles. He also represented Ireland in many inter­nationals in Ireland. Britain and Europe.

Our congratulations, then, to Patsy on this great and well deserved honour

 

Acknowledgments

 Our thanks to Jimmy Fogarty, Two Mile Borris & to Moycarkey Coolcroo Athletic Club for the provision of lots of material

To Patsy Fitzgerald and his wife Eileen  for their co operation and for making memorabilia available.

 

Compiled by Jerry Lyons For Tipperary Athletics  

Queries and  comments to  info@tipperaryathletics.com