O’Rourke rallies stars for Cork meet

DERVAL O’ROURKE has called on all Irish athletes to come out and support Cork City Sports on July 4.

In recent years many of the stars of Irish athletics have been conspicuous by their absence from The Mardyke showpiece.

This year the former world indoor hurdles champion and bronze medallist at last month’s European Indoor Championships hopes they will turn out in force.

“It is the only international track meeting in Ireland and it should be supported,” she said. “Paul Hession and Alistair Cragg have been great supporters over the years and I think everybody else should follow their example and support it.”

She said that when the late Andy Norman was her agent he would always insist that his athletes competed at the national championships and Cork City Sports because he felt it was essential that they competed before our own fans.

“I am a huge fan of Munster rugby and Munster rugby has an amazing fan club,” she said. “How can athletes expect to get that type of support from fans if they don’t compete before them and give them an opportunity to see them competing against the best? I think there should be a stipulation that they compete at certain meetings.

“I have never won at Cork City Sports but I have such great memories of the meeting since the times I used to act as a basket girl taking care of the athletes’ gear. I hope to win this year.”

The Leevale athlete was back home in Cork yesterday to accept the Evening Echo Ladies Sports Star of the Month Award for March in recognition of her performance at the European Indoor Championships in Turin.

But she admitted she had mixed feelings about the bronze medal because she felt she could have won the gold medal in the 60m hurdles.

“Coming from where I had, with the injuries and illness and all that, I have to be happy with the medal because, let’s face it, very few win medals at major championships,” she said.

“But my first reaction after crossing the line was ‘I should have won’.

“The good thing is that I won a medal and I am now looking forward to the outdoor season.

“I expect my first race will be with the Irish team in the Europa Cup at the end of June and then, a week later, I will be back home for Cork City Sports.”

She has lost her Spar sponsorship and this year her Sports Council Grant has been halved.

“Initially it came as a shock but you know you just have to get on with things,” she said. “While it is very disappointing you cannot afford to be distracted by those things. Athletes are used to living on very little.”

She admitted she was very lucky that Sean Cahill and his wife Terri (nee Horgan), who are both former international athletes, coach her for the sheer love of it. She could not afford to pay for the coaching they provide on the grant she receives.


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