THE first track and field
sports were held in Ferrybank in 1869. The event was staged in Power's Field, a
short distance from the Clover Centre, which is now the venue for many sports
That meeting catered for
senior men only and included disciplines such as sprints, hurdles,
middle-distance. jumping and throwing events.
Athletes from allover the
country participated, including the Davin brothers. Maurice and Pat from
Carrick-on Suir. Maurice Davin was to go on to become the first President of
Sporadic attempts were made
over the next hundred years or so to establish an athletic club in Ferrybank.
In the sixties Clover Athletic
Club was established and based at the Clover Meats factory where many people in
Ferrybank were employed. At the time the club mostly catered for the children
of Clover employees.
According to Andy Hallissey
who was instrumental in the revival of Ferrybank A.C. in 1979 there was
tremendous support for the development of the club.
"We have to thank a large
number of people for their help in getting the club off the ground including
Noel Power, Mary Hartley, Billy Doyle, Ned Connolly and Johnny Treacy in the
Clover Centre. We also received invaluable assistance from Sr. Madeleine in the
Convent School and Dick Hayden in the boy's school."
The club was based at the
Clover Centre, in the Convent grounds and also at Belmont Hospital Grounds. Within
a few years Ferrybank A.C. were competing with distinction at Community Games
level and went on to be very successful at this level for a considerable length
The juvenile structure at the
club was excellent during the eighties and many national titles were won at
Athletes of the calibre of
Brid and John Hallissey, Jackie Stokes. Lisa Murray, Breda Murray and Sheila
Quinn emerged through the juvenile ranks and went on to compete both at
national and international level in the following years. "These young
primary school children went on to become the basis of a very strong senior
club which won division two of the women's and men's National Senior Leagues
during the nineties," Andy Hallissey said.
The success and development of
any club can be attributed to those involved in the organizing of it and
there's no doubt that the Hallissey name is synonymous with Ferrybank A.C.Andy
Hallissey, a former footballer with Brickey Rangers, has been involved with the
club for over twenty years and although reluctant to highlight his own role,
remains extremely proud of the achievements of the athletes who competed with
"Jacqui Stokes was the leading long jumper in Ireland
for a number of years and is one of the few Irish athletes to have jumped over
six metres on a number of occasions." With their father so involved in the
club it was always probable that the Hallissey children would also make their
mark. "Brid broke the Irish record for the heptathlon when she was
sixteen. and continued to improve on it over the next 12 years. In addition she
won national senior hurdles titles and went on to win British combined events
titles in 1992 and 1994." John Hallissey's main interest was in the pole
vault where he enjoyed considerable success, especially indoors. "John won
the senior indoor title eight years in a row and was the first Irish athlete to
exceed five metres indoors."
Another to come through the ranks is Larry Morrissey, a
promising middle distance athlete, currently in his final year of a scholarship
to Providence College, Rhode Island. Prominent sportsmen who would go on to
play rugby successfully began their careers in athletics at Ferrybank, most
notably Jack Clarke, Brian Cusack , the Cronin brothers Donnagh and of course
Ben who played internationally and has recently been installed as new coach to
Waterpark Rugby Club. With the considered success of the seniors during the
nineties and the concentration on their exploits it was inevitable that the
juvenile side of the club would suffer. A decision to move the club's base to
the Regional Sports Centre was taken in 1999. Brid Golden (formerly Hallissey)
now teaching in St John of God primary school in the city had retired from
competition and decided to give a hand in the coaching of the juveniles.
"With all the success the seniors had achieved over a decade the junior
side of the club had faded somewhat," she explained. "We decided
early in 1999 to concentrate our efforts on developing young talent and over
two and a half years later we're delighted with the results." The fabulous
facilities that are on offer at the RSC, including a modern track have helped
to renew an interest in athletics and Ferrybank A.C. has seen the membership
soar in the last two years. "When we were a strong juvenile club in the
eighties we catered for 50-60 children, now our membership exceeds 150 and
rising!" With so many young athletes to be looked after plenty of help is
required and Brid is very grateful to those who have come on board to help in
the running of the club. "My brother, John, is back working in Waterford
and is helping with the coaching side of things. "We also have the
assistance of Maria Tierney, a teacher in St. John of God and her sister Teresa
Murray and of course some of the students from the Recreational Management
Course at W.I. T. give a hand." The club train every Thursday night from
7pm to 8.15 and during the cross-country season also train on Tuesday night.
The cost is minimal, the children pay £1 per night to cover the cost of
equipment, and the hire of the R.S.C., registration to Athletics Ireland costs
just £5 annually. Although retaining the name Ferrybank A.C. the club now draws
it's membership from allover the city as Brid Golden explained. "We seem
to be attracting prospective athletes from allover the city, perhaps the move
to the R.S.C. is a factor in this but we're delighted with the present level of
interest in athletics."
Over the past two years Brid has seen the emergence of
athletes with great potential like Sonya Kennedy and Dara Foley. "Sonya
has enjoyed a fantastic season winning the shot putt and discus at the Irish
Schools and Irish Club Championship. In addition she captained the Irish u I5
girl's team at the recent Celtic International in Wales and was also selected
on the u l7 team for the school's international."
"Dara Foley, a very promising high-jumper had a
brilliant indoor season and was picked to go the British 3A's where he finished
The club has seen the emergence of a very exciting
prospect in Mairead Murphy who won three gold medals at the recent national
championships. "Mairead competed under 12 and won the high jump, long jump
and shot putt. In this age group the athletes are only allowed to compete in
three events, Mairead is definitely a talent to watch out for."
Other medal winners at national level included Kelly
Proper, Kalyn Sheehan, Gillian Rohan, Michelle Mc Carthy, the under 12 relay
team Holly Kavanagh, Hayley Murphy, Kalyn Sheehan and Mairead Murphy and
newcomers Sinead Donnelly who finished first in ulll high jump and her brother
Ciaran who won gold at the Community Games Finals in u/10 hurdles, the only
Waterford winner at this year's Community Games.
The club has also enjoyed an excellent year in Munster and
Ferrybank is now ranked as one of
the top clubs in the Province.
"Last year we were the 16th best club at Munster
level but this year we've seen a huge improvement and are now in the top
six," Brid Golden explained.
Brid is especially enthusiastic about the under eight
cross-country team who won at Munster
level this year. "Amy Brennan, Aisling O'Donoghue,
Emily Hallissey, Gillian Walsh, Sophie Molloy and Ciara Murray were all on that
team and they should also do very well in the future."
Although delighted that so many of the athletes are making
a name for themselves at national and international level Brid is quick to
point out that the most important aspect of training is
participation and enjoyment. "We really emphasize the
fun aspect, not every child can be a medal winner but keeping them all involved
and enjoying themselves is perhaps the greatest satisfaction."
For the past 20 years Ferrybank has hosted open sports,
track and field in April and September and
cross-country in November. The events regularly attract
the very best of talent from allover the Munster and South Leinster area. T.J.
Kearns who went on to compete for Ireland won his first open hurdles at the Ferrybank
sports. The Regional Sports Centre should be packed on Sunday next, September
16th for yet another sports day, a date that is never to be missed.
There's no doubt that the running of a modern athletic
club takes up a huge amount of time and
calls for total commitment from those involved. The
Hallissey Family have invested much of their leisure time in athletics over
many years and fully deserve the success and strength of
Ferrybank A.C. New members will be catered for each
Thursday evening at the Regional Sports Centre on the Cork road from 7pm
onwards. Young children with an interest in athletics could do no better than
join this progressive and successful club where Brid Golden and her team foster
an understanding and deep enjoyment of a fantastic sport.