Tuesday, 13 October 2015



Cork Legend Donie Walsh

by Niamh Dorgan
Donie Walsh, is a Cork legend in athletic circles. One of the original founders of Leevale Athletic Club, founded in 1967, Donie continues to coach there and also with Midleton Athletic Club.
Donie started his running career at 16 and just a year later won his first County Novice.  When he was working 9 to 6 in the 70s he still managed to fit in his 5 mile run at lunchtime and 10-12 miles in the evening. His training ethic is to keep it simple, know your pace and never miss a training session.  Donie never went on any special diets, he ate traditional dinners: meat, potatoes and veg and even managed a dessert.
“Keep it simple, know your pace and never miss a training session”
Donie won 5 All Irelands from 1973 to 1976 and in 1978.  After four consecutive wins and 3rd in 1977 Donie trained even harder and reclaimed the All Ireland title the following year.
The Corkman represented Ireland in the marathon at the Munich Olympics in 1972 and he was a scoring member of the Irish team that took silver in the World Cross Country Championships in 1979, on the day that John Treacy won the race for the second time.  When the Cork to Cobh road race was a Championship race, Donie won on several occasions with a fastest time of 74.45.
Donie Walsh in the Mud '75
Donie Walsh in the Mud ’75
Donie was very aware of what his body was capable of. Over shorter distances Donie could run at 4.40 minute mile pace and closer to 5.15 for marathon and this was without a Garmin watch telling him.  If he ever got an injury cold water was a great help, be it a cold bath or into the sea and he believes that the most common cause of injury is down to the athlete’s running style.
During Donie’s career he never displayed his medals at home so not to influence his children in the path they chose. Despite this, one of his sons took up running in 5th year in school and went on to win the Schools All Ireland Steeplechase. He continued his successes capturing an All-Ireland Junior Steeplechase title a couple of years later and winning a scholarship to the United States. You can’t beat good genes.
Donie currently trains Cork woman Lizzie Lee from Leevale AC. Lizzie completed the Berlin marathon in 2.32.51 which is well within the required qualifying time of 2:42. With three available places on the marathon team, Lizzie will be waiting patiently to see if she makes the team. Donie already has one athlete on the plane for Rio as he also trains 3000m Steeplechase runner Michelle Finn. Whatever Donie is doing right as a coach, his legendary status from his own days on the field has come full circle as he helps current generations reach their potential.
Donie still goes to the gym everyday and as he says himself
“You have to get out and be healthy”
Thanks for permission to reprint this Niamh, Niamh's blog can be found at http://www.sportswomen.ie/cork-legend-donie-walsh/     Danny