United Striders Athletic Club held the very first Declan Shannon 1500m Perpetual Race at Town Park track in New Ross on Saturday 30 June.
Declan Shannon was a talented 1500m runner and a former member of the club, back in the 80’s, winning numerous County and Leinster medals, along with an All Ireland medal for his school. Tragically Declan was involved in a motor bike accident, aged 30 and passed away on the 8th June 1998. To mark his twentieth anniversary this year, Declan’s family had asked if the club would organize a 1500m race in his memory and donated a perpetual trophy as a prize.
Twelve athletics from the club, both juvenile and senior, lined up to compete for the honour of claiming the trophy. It was the first time the club’s senior and juvenile athletes competed together and both factions had their eye on the prize. It promised to be a hotly contested event and whilst secretly, many had their favourites, nobody knew which athlete would be crowned winner. A large crowd gathered at the track to support and cheer on the athletes, including many members of Declan’s family.
The race lived up to expectations, with six athletes grouped closely at the front and still in contention on the last lap. With 250m to go Alan O’Connor broke to the front, closely followed by John McGrath, his son Adam O’Connor and Darragh Flannelly. But with 150m left Adam O’Connor aged 15yrs, spurred on by the cheers of the crowd, made a decisive move to the front and kicked hard all the way to the finish line, claiming victory just in front of his dad Alan, with John and Darragh just a few metres behind.
This group was closely followed home by Brendan Lyng, Cian Flanagan, Paul Doran, Colin Carney, Eoin Shannon, Finn Kelly, Pat Calllaghan and Mick O’Gorman. A fanastic performance from all athletes.
After the race, Katriona Shannon said a few emotional words to the supporting crowd, recalling her brother Declan’s time at the club and his love for running. It was a proud moment for Declan’s family and for the Club. Adam O’Connor was presented with the Perpetual Trophy by Declan’s parents, Kathleen and Michael Shannon.