ROY FAHY would dearly love to win Monday’s Champion Sports Cork City Marathon after going so close in last year’s June Bank Holiday showpiece.
The 34-year-old Cork athlete had victory in sight for much of last year’s race. He was within 50 metres of the eventual winner, Alan O’Shea, before the Bantry doctor — who now tutors medical students at UCC — pulled away from him at Turner’s Cross.
And he had second place in his grasp until the Opera House where Wieslaw Sosnowski overtook him.
“Of course I’d like to win the race,” he admitted. “After all it is the Cork marathon. It is our marathon.”
On Monday he will be competing in his fifth marathon having run Dublin twice, New York once and then Cork last yea. His best time is from Dublin 2004 when he ran 2:28:30.
Last year he ran 2:31:59 for third place in Cork behind O’Shea, 2:27:36 and Sosnowski, 2:31:36 from Gdansk .
Alan O’Shea will not be defending his title this time around. He was out of action with an injury for November and, while he has been running well over shorter distances of late, he does not feel he has the work done to do himself justice in the marathon.
And there is some confusion about the appearance of Sosnowski on the line. He was competing with Eagle AC last year when he was working in Cork as a farmhand but he has since returned Poland. He is among the huge entry for Monday morning’s start.
If he should compete he will line up as favourite.
Apart from his second place in Cork last year he was runner-up in the Connemara Marathon, won in Longford in 2:26:55 and had a time of 2:31:07 in Dublin.
Fahy is quietly confident that he can keep the title in at home. He is now coached by the legendary Leevale athlete, Donie Walsh, a former Villanova star and a member of the Irish team that won the silver medals at the world cross-country championship in Limerick in 1979 when John Treacy retained his world title.
Walsh himself was once the fastest Irish man and represented Ireland in the event at the Olympic Games in Munich so has a wealth of knowledge.
Cathal O’Connell is an out and out marathon man. The teak-tough St Finbarr’s athlete was in the top six in Belfast for five successive years but decided to skip that event this year in favour of the Cork race. Although now 44 he is still a force to be reckoned with and has a best marathon time of 2:25:43 from Dublin as recently as 2003.
The women’s section is also a wide open affair. Last year Treacy Guilfoyle won in 3:01:53 but Mary O’Leary, who finished second in 3:07:51, could be a more formidable force this time.
Sinead ní Conchuir from Crosshaven, who competes with Eagle AC, finished second to former international, Maureen Harrington, in the tough Glengarriffe to Bantry half marathon and that proved an interesting yardstick last year with Alan O’Shea winning that race.
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