Bandon AC – The Biggest Club in the Biggest County

September 20, 2023

Bandon AC was founded in 1964 and Laura immediately spoke glowingly about Billy Good who was one of the founding members of the club, and Catherine Duggan who was a former head coach at Bandon AC. “Billy passed away in June 2021 but will always be remembered along with Catherine Duggan who both were an inspiration to all club members throughout their years in the club.”

Bandon AC have had some incredible athletes down the years with the likes of Breda Dennehy-Willis and Phil Healy performing at the Olympics in 2000 and 2020 respectively. Dennehy-Willis represented Ireland at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, where she competed in the 5000m race. Phil Healy, at Tokyo 2020, became the first Irish woman to compete in three events at an Olympic Games, when she participated in the 200m, 400m, and the 4x4 mixed relay.

With the Dublin Marathon fast approaching, Laura told us that there are five Bandon AC members competing this year. Darren Casey, Catriona O’Leary, John Lucey, William Callanan, and Simon Nolan will make the trip to Dublin and Simon Nolan is hoping to improve on his run last year, where he recorded a top 100 finish with a time of 2 hours 43 minutes.

Despite the major success the club has had nationally and internationally, Laura tells us that for Bandon AC “athletics is not all about winning, but instead, we try to teach each member coming through that it’s about teamwork, hard work, and sportsmanship.”, adding “our thinking of the club is to give all individuals an opportunity to compete and enjoy the sport or event they are competing in”.

The future is looking bright for Bandon AC as they look forward to hosting the Cork County Juvenile Uneven-Age & Novice XC in October. As well as this, athletes like Nicola Tuthill, now of UCD AC, are following in the footsteps of athletes gone before them at the highest level. Tuthill recently competed in the Hammer Throw at the European U23 Championships, finishing fourth, continuing the throwing tradition in Bandon AC where Tadgh Twomey won 34 National Titles in various throwing events for the club in the 1970s & ‘80s.

Laura mentions that another athlete in Aoife Callan “had her first Irish international during the summer competing at the SIAB schools international placing 3rd in the javelin and the club hopes that is the first of many internationals for Aoife!”

The youth of Bandon AC are inundated with role models when you see the success of so many athletes from their club, and another one is Carmel Crowley who has been a long-time competitor for Bandon AC nationally and worldwide in many Masters events. “Carmel is a great person for the younger athletes of the club to look up to.”

There is a real community feel to Bandon AC and this is evident when you look at the O’Flynn family. Sisters Lucy and Olive O’Flynn currently compete for Bandon AC and their father Richard also competed for the Club in many international competitions including the World Senior XC Championships.

Laura told a story during our chat about a new initiative the club introduced at the start of 2023, and it really stuck with me. The club noticed that many parents were dropping their kids off to training twice per week, and they would then go for a walk themselves until their kids’ sessions ended. Bandon AC introduced a ‘Drop & Run’ group where the parents of the children all come together with a coach from the club and go for a run. The initiative started in January and the opening night saw nine people take part, but numbers now stand at almost 30! “Many have competed at road races around the country including the recent Charleville half marathon and Kinsale 5 mile.”

The Club are currently building an all-weather track in the town which will undoubtedly help the club reach even greater heights. “The development of the new track will give Bandon AC our own home in which we can continue to grow and give more opportunities for everyone young and old.”

The Club are aiming for the new track to be opened in the summer of 2024, which also marks the 60-year anniversary of the establishment of Bandon AC and Laura tells Run Republic that there are talks for the Club to host an open sports day to mark the event.

Bandon AC is a club with supreme heritage, a bright future, and a true community feel. With the 60th anniversary coming up next year, along with the brand-new all-weather track, there is no better time to join the biggest club in Cork!

Related News