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  • Writer's pictureBarra Oconnell

John Quigley: A Tribute

John Quigley: A Tribute (Paul Cotter, with assistance from Pat Murphy)

On behalf of Eagle AC it is a pleasure to acknowledge the great contribution John Quigley has made to the welfare and growth of the club over many years. As John leaves the club it is good to recall his many contributions over these years. John joined Eagle AC in 1998 from Leevale at a time when numbers were falling. The club had been formed in 1982, among its founding members at that time were Joe and Ann Murphy, happily still very much part of the club. Pat Murphy joined a few years later.

John was our chairman from 2000 to 2014. When he was first elected numbers were in freefall and by 2001 there were just 25 members. This situation was not unique to Eagle, back then running was not in any way as popular as it has become over recent years. Perhaps John’s most enduring legacy to the club was his almost obsessional belief in the value of recruitment. Everywhere he went he recruited, at the end of every race, in his social life, at his place of work, and so on. John recruited me in November of 2001 while I was attending a genealogy evening at the Cork Family History Centre. He recognized my face from the races and sold me the idea of the value of club membership over being a mere jogger. Another one of his recruitment tools was a ladies meet and train evening in Douglas every Monday, which brought many members into the club. By 2003 John had gotten the numbers up to 51 and membership continued to grow apace, eventually rising to the high one hundreds (today we have around 140 members). During these years Eagle was one of the fastest growing clubs in the country. Outside of his work in recruitment John was a leading force in encouraging club members to compete in road and cross-country races, especially in championship races.

Over his years as chairman of the club John ‘ate, drank and slept’ Eagle. During his chairmanship John oversaw many honours brought home by the club at national, provincial and county level. During this time Eagle won thirty eight sets of county cross-country medals, including twelve titles, most notable of which was the three in a row county senior women’s titles, in 2008 to 2010. Earlier, in 2002, the women had won all before them, including Intermediate, Novice and Novice B. Among his other achievements for the club was his prominance in the setting up the famous Eagle ‘Cheetah Run’ in Fota Wildlife Park which has run every year since 2009 (until sadly this year). As a qualified course measurer John also made himself available to many local clubs as well as Eagle. John himself was no mean runner. With PB’s of 16:52 for five km, 21:37 for four mile and 27:30 for five mile distances he won many prizes, team and individual. In 2007, at the club’s 25th anniversary celebration in the Cork Cricket Club on the Mardyke, John was presented with an ‘outstanding contribution’ award by the club.

On a personal level John and myself were fierce competitors, despite him being several years older than me. Many is the race that I, eye balls out, was striding to the finish line only to hear behind me a spectator shouting ‘come on John’, thus spurring me on to glory at his expense. My only national medal was won as part of the over-50 Eagle team at the Dublin marathon in 2010 when we won silver. The team was, respectively, Pat Twomey, John Quigley and myself. Another happy memory is the only time I managed to finish the Ballycotton Five Summer Series, back in 2003, coming in at 35th position and winning the coveted top fifty tee-shirt. Who was ten seconds in front of me in 34th position? John Quigley of course. This wonderful rivalry unfortunately came to an end some years ago when John experienced ill-health. He has faced this situation with great courage and remains an example of how important running can be in all of life’s situations.

On behalf of Eagle AC we would like to wish John many more years of running.

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