Throwing out a Strong Message

Isolation and social distancing. Cocooning. Flattening the curve. Welcome to the world of a Thrower.

So you fancy yourself to throw a Hammer, Discus, Javelin or putt a Shot far into the distance. Brace yourself for rejection.

Prepare yourself for the Health and Safety book being fired at you from all corners. Think outside the box, work on your 20/20 vision.

Better still see what confronts you when you try to train. Locked gates. Mindless runners and coaches stepping from nowhere. Preference to ball games in the green in-field, our field.

Rejection everywhere. Track and Field. You must be joking? If you want to be a thrower accept that for you life will be tougher.

When Paddy McGrath, Raheny’s most successful thrower thus far, was training for the Sydney Olympics, his circle of dreams was a disused corner of a public park at Randall’s Island in The Bronx, New York.

Out of sight out of mind the best policy. Don’t antagonise the ranger. A lone figure tossing a 15lb hammer out as far as he can time after time.

A guttural roar announcing to all and sundry of the impending danger flying through the air. Then a 120 to 130 metre round trip walk to retrieve the implement in order to do the whole thing again.

In truth the only company was the local wildlife. Randall’s Island would not be regarded as the safest place for day trippers.

McGraths daily arrival suggesting to the birdlife that early migration to safer lands well worthy of consideration.

Paddy’s well retired now and making big waves in coaching circles stateside. He grew up on Gracefield Ave, Artane, about 2km from the Raheny clubhouse.

He got his introduction to Hammer throwing when boarding at Gormanston College, winning an Athletics scholarship to Manhattan College and basically has made his life out there since. His loyalty and contribution to Raheny has been monumental.

A bucketful of National titles, huge points contributor in the League. Add in European, World Championship and Olympic representation and his place in the annals is secure.

A Raheny Shamrock legend.

And if our luck was out and we never had Paddy McGrath, we most certainly would never have come by Eric Favors.

Back in the 1950’s a young lady of 17 named Margaret Mahon left her native Lahardane, Co. Mayo to find a better life in America.

It was the way back then in the West of Ireland. Like Paddy McGrath she found employment, married, had a family and put down roots.

Unlike Paddy, who frequently comes homes to check-in, Margaret’s visits home have been less numerous but like all emigrants she never forgets where she came from.

Margaret’s eldest daughter, Teresa would in turn bear two sons, the second being a young man called Eric Favors.

In High School young Eric was introduced to Shot Putting and as he became more proficient he became aware of a coach called Paddy McGrath who was the talk of the Throwing Community locally.

Taking himself down to McGrath’s Saturday morning session and the two struck up an instant rapport.

As Paddy got to know more about Eric and gradually became aware of the Irish roots, he floated an idea, that led to an investigation (the Grandparent rule) that when confirmed required a club.

For Paddy all the signposts pointed towards Raheny.

Fast forward the National Championships 2019 in Santry on his second summer in Ireland, Eric Favors, the cult has arrived.

Winning helps. Groups of relations from Mayo, Kerry and nearby Portmarnock, most of whom had never been at an athletics meet, hanging over a Santry railing.

Turns, breaks, white flags, red flags become the jargon of the day. Shot putt corner is the place to be.

First national title. Cue flags, photos, Field event mayhem. International debut. Can’t wait to get back tell Granny all about this and who was asking for her.

Sometimes life is all about connections and identity. Niamh Fogarty’s father Richard grew up in Foxfield, Raheny before emigrating to Clonard, Co Meath, where Niamh grew up.

Her grandfather Richard Snr was involved in the now defunct Kilbarrack Foxfield AC and the athletic tradition and flame is well instilled.

There is a saying that if you want something badly first let it go free. If it comes back to you it’s yours forever, if it does not it was never yours to begin with.

Add in another caveat. Niamh’s coach Peter Collins is married to Marese Cullen from Castlepollard who is still dining out on the fact that she was the first ever women’s winner of the Raheny 5.

Sure you can’t go anywhere.

Well the diamond that is Niamh Fogarty rolled back to Raheny in 2019 and how she sparkled.

An under-23 and senior national discus double. Then to announce her arrival as an Athlete of the highest substance a seventh placing in the final of the European Under-23 Championships in Gavle, Sweden.

Paddy McGrath, Eric Favors and Niamh Fogarty. The Legend and the young pretenders.

Three different disciplines. Hammer, Shot and Discus. They are high achievers. Exceptional might be a stronger opinion.

Consider this, In the all-time Irish rankings, Paddy McGrath’s 77.49 metres is the second furthest ever.

Eric Favor’s 19.49 metres in South Carolina recently, moved him to third on the Irish all-time list.

When Niamh Fogarty flung the discus out to 52.96 metres at the nationals last July that cemented her position as third longest also.

These are heady times. Our throwers have come centre stage. In no other of the athletic disciplines do we have a top six all timer.

Raheny has always had a throwing tradition. The first national title was won all of 55 years ago when Kevin Monaghan won a junior javelin in 1965.

Last summer the club’s most exciting young hammer thrower Sean Maher won his second when taking the U19 title. Not surprisingly the Paddy McGrath story intrigues and motivates him.

A Golfer plays a lot of ordinary shots and even more plain bad ones, all the time waiting for that good one to come that instantly alleviates the memory of all the previous poor ones. Oft referred to as “Hitting the sweet spot”.

Like everything the more they practice, the better they get. The pleasure is in the execution. It is no different for Throwers. When it comes everything is worth it.

Maybe isolation is to be recommended.

The Complete List of Raheny Shamrock National Title Winners – Throwing (Juvenile, Junior, Under-23 and Senior)

9-Paddy McGrath-6 X Snr Hammer: 1992, 1993, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2007; U23 Hammer: 1992, 2 x Jnr Hammer, 1989, 1990.

4-Ethan Bannon-U17 Shot: 2014; U17 Shot Indoors: 2014, U16 Shot: 2013, U15 Shot: 2012.

3-Willie Doyle-U23 Hammer: 1989, 2 x Jnr Hammer: 1987, 1988.

3-Cian Healy-U19 Shot: 2005, U19 Discus: 2005, U17 Javelin: 2003.

3-Niall O’Connor-Jnr Javelin: 1985, U15 Javelin: 1983, U14 Javelin: 1982.

3-Niall Tuckey-U23 Javelin: 1998, Jnr Javelin: 1994, U18 Javelin: 1994.

3-Becky Wall-U14 Shot Indoors: 2008, U14 Hammer: 2008, U14 Javelin: 2008.

2-Niamh Fogarty-U23 Discus: 2019, Snr Discus: 2019.

2-Liam Hickey-U17 Hammer, 1978, U15 Hammer: 1976.

2-Sean Maher-U18 Hammer: 2019, U17 Hammer: 2018.

2- Tony O’Connell-2 x Jnr Javelin: 1968, 1969.

1- K Buckley-U15 Javelin: 1985

1- Eric Favors-Snr Shot: 2019.

1- Sinead Gallagher-U19 Javelin: 2002.

1- Nick Jackman-U18 Discus: 1999

1- Simon Kearns-U13 Javelin: 1991.

1- Mieke Kiernan-U18 Hammer: 2013.

1-Kevin Monaghan-Jnr Javelin: 1965.

1-Mark O’Connor-Snr Javelin: 1982.

1-Michael O’Connor-Jnr Javelin: 1981.

1-Tony O’Sullivan- U19 Javelin: 2012.

1-Denise Walsh-U17 Discus: 1989.

1-Sally Wigesundra-Snr Javelin: 1987.