Longstanding Irish athletics team manger Patsy McGonagle has confirmed he has stepped down as manager of the Irish team.
McGonagle’s time as Ireland manager saw Irish athlete’s land two Olympic, nine World Championship and 27 European championship medals.
McGonagle first manged the Irish team at the World Junior Championships in Seoul, South Korea in 1992.
“It was a huge honour for me” explained McGonagle” especially being from rural Ireland in Donegal, to have been appointed to manage the national team on so many occasions”.
“I was always so proud to wear the Irish tracksuit and to fly the Irish flag abroad at major athletics event and I am forever indebted to the Irish athletes I managed who put in so much effort to represent their country with such distinction abroad at the highest levels”.
“I have so many highlights, the Olympic medals won by Sonia O’Sullivan in Sydney 2000 & Rob Heffernan in London 2012.
The World & European Championships championship medals also won by Olive Loughnane, David Gillick, Derval O’Rourke, James Nolan, and more recently from Mark English from my own county and Ciara Mageean.”
“I never tired of seeing the Irish flag raised for a medal ceremony and hearing Amhrán na bhFiann being played in stadiums around the world” added McGonagle.
McGonagle’s real expertise was his technical knowledge of athletic events, his precision and attention to detail ensured Irish athlete were given the best chance of success.
A graduate of St Mary’s College of Physical Education in London in 1972, the Ballybofey man was one of the early pioneers of full time PE teachers in Ireland.
McGonagle went onto manage the national team on a record 68 occasions including four Olympic Games, six World and six European Athletics Championships.
The Donegal man was recently re-offered the post by Athletics Ireland until Tokyo 2020, after careful consideration McGonagle felt the time was right to step aside and allow new blood to take over the duties.
McGonagle will continue to work with his beloved Finn Valley Athletics Centre and has plans to expand the facilities beyond the existing athletics track, swimming pool, astro turf, and indoor facilities.