Irish Athletes Need to Get Tougher

Patsy McGonagle has admitted he is concerned about the future of Irish athletics as his 25-year management of the Irish team comes to an end.

The Donegal man confirmed last Thursday that he would step down as Irish athletics team manger having first taken the role at the World Junior Championship in 1992.

“I’m a wee bit concerned right now coming out of London” explained McGonagle in an interview with Shannonside Northern Sound.

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“I think I expressed that in a few interviews in London, I know people will say our junior success, I presume you’re asking me about the senior stuff?”

“Obviously athletics is alive and well, people are still interested in athletics in villages and urban areas of Ireland.”

“There are mighty brilliant people in all of these clubs and they’re doing a brilliant job as is the ordinary coach leads.”

“But the lack of coach leads is such an evident shortfall in the whole thing and experienced coach leaded and a culture.”

“We need to get back to a strong culture” added McGonagle whose time as Irish team manager saw 38 international medals including Sonia O’Sullivan’s Olympic silver medal in Sydney.

“At senior level there really hasn’t been any jump up and down situations really. And I was privileged to be in podebrady (Czech Republic) with the race walkers” who had taken European team silver.

They are and still proveiling a very strong culture, the walkers that is” explained McGonagle.

“In general terms I would think we have to get tougher to compete at World championship and I don’t know who is going to change that culture or how that culture is going to be changed.”

“That is just my reflection talking about, it’s a brutal tough engaged world, world athletics and to get involved in it we need serious strong structures and leadership and I mean leadership.”

The full interview with Saturday Sport presenter Dave Hooper is below.