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sad passing Irish athletics legend Jerry Kiernan passes away, aged 67

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Jerry Kiernan, pictured winning the 1992 Dublin Marathon, has passed away

Jerry Kiernan, pictured winning the 1992 Dublin Marathon, has passed away

Jerry Kiernan has passed away

Jerry Kiernan has passed away

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Jerry Kiernan, pictured winning the 1992 Dublin Marathon, has passed away

The death has been announced of Jerry Kiernan, one of Ireland's foremost distance runners and coaches. He was 67.

A native of Listowel, Co Kerry, he lived in Dublin for most of his adult life. He finished in ninth place in the marathon at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angles where his Irish teammate John Treacy won the silver medal.

Kiernan won the Dublin marathon in 1982 and 1992 and in 1976 he became the seventh Irishman to break the four-minute mile when he ran 3:59.2 in London.

A retired national school teacher, he coached middle distance runners Joe Sweeney and Ciara Mageean.

Kiernan was a life member of Clonliffe Harriers AC and had been a respected athletic analyst on RTE Television for many years.

During an athletic career which spanned three decades he was one of the country’s most versatile performers on track, road, and cross country. But it wasn’t until he switched to the marathon at the age of 29 that he achieved international success.

He first showed his potential at underage level, winning the Irish junior 1500m and cross-country titles in the early seventies.

After securing a post as a teacher in St Brigid’s Boys school in Foxrock in south Dublin, Kiernan linked up with Clonliffe Harriers. Initially his career blossomed on the track and he won the Irish 1500m title in 1975.

As well as breaking the four-minute barrier in June 1976, he had also set a new personal best for the 1500m of 3:41.9 in Dusseldorf 11 days earlier.

A year later he became the first Irish athlete to dip under eight minutes for the 3,000m. At the old Crystal Palace stadium in London, he ran 7:56.9 for the distance smashing Tom O’Riordan’s 11-year- old Irish record.

Despite missing out on qualification for major championships, he won the Irish 10,000m track title in 1981, having won the National Inter Counties Cross Country title earlier in the season.

By then an increasing number of established track runners had switched their attention to road racing following the first Dublin city marathon in 1980 and the establishment of the Business Houses Athletic Association.

Kieran, together with the Hooper brothers Dick and Pat, played a pivotal role in establishing the BHAA which helped heal the damaging split in Irish athletics by defying the then national governing body, Bord Luthchleas na hEireann (BLE), to take part in races organised under the BHAA banner.

Two of his biggest rivals Dick Hooper and Boston marathon winner Neil Cusack had won the first two Dublin marathons in 1980 and 1981. Kieran opted to make his debut over the classic distance in the 1982 race which was televised live for the first time.

At the 15-mile mark in the marathon he was on target to smash the Irish record and record a sensational time of time hours-nine minutes. But he slowed dramatically over the final six miles and was forced to stop three times. Encouraged by Eamonn Coghlan, he got going again and won in a record time of 2:13.45.

During the remainder of his career, he concentrated on road races and cross country. He represented Ireland in seven World Cross Country Championships and won the Inter Club title in 1984. He was a member of the Clonliffe Harriers squad which dominated the National Cross Country team events, winning the blue riband prize on an extraordinary eight occasions.

In 1984 he was sensationally disqualified after winning the Cork marathon which doubled as the BLE National championship and was a trial for the Los Angeles Olympics. The winner of the women’s race Deirdre Nagle was also disqualified as BLE deemed the vests they wore was illegal.

But together with Dick Hooper and John Treacy, Kiernan was still selected to represent Ireland in the marathon at that Olympics. In a star-stubbed field Kieran was up with the lead group which included John Treacy at the 22-mile mark before fading slightly but still secured a magnificent ninth place in a personal best time of 2:12.20.

A decade after his first Dublin marathon he won the event again in 1992 at the age of 39 in a very credible time of 2:17.19.

In total he won 17 senior caps for Ireland.

A regular visitor to Italy, he was also a lifelong supporter of FC Barcelona.

May he rest in peace.

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