TWO impressive cross-country victories both at the start and end of October have seen Tim O’Donoghue of the East Cork club named as the Cork City Sports Athlete of the Month.
On the first Sunday of October, over an undulating 10km course at Carraigadrohid near Macroom, O’Donoghue clinched his third county title in a row when defeating the in-form Ryan Creech of Leevale by 40 seconds.
O’Donoghue continued on his winning way with another excellent victory on the last day of the month, this time taking the Munster title at Two-Mile-Borris in Tipperary where he again got the better of the Leevale man, although this time the winning margin was much closer.
“That was the hardest by far,” admitted O’Donoghue of the two wins at the awards function at the River Lee hotel. “Liam Harris from Togher went out fairly hard and there were four of five of us hanging on. Heading into the second last lap I made a little bit of a move going up the hill and got a small gap on Ryan. I kept that lead going into the final lap and even though he made another go coming around the last corner, I managed to hold him off.”
It marked a rather unique treble for the Midleton native as he had also won the East Cork Divisional title the previous month and therefore became the first man to win all three senior cross-country titles in the one season. A brilliant summer and early autumn on the local road race circuit saw O’Donoghue virtually unbeatable and where he established personal best times over 5km (14:29) and four miles (19:28).
“To be honest, the county win was a bit of a surprise, having known the calibre and form that Ryan was in,” he recalled.
In between those two races O’Donoghue also finished first in the masters (M35) category at the Autumn International at Abottstown and sixth overall in the elite field.
“I went up to that with an eye on the All-Ireland senior, which was my main goal of the season, and to mix it with some of the guys at national level. After that, I felt I was in a good position for the nationals but the week before the All-Ireland I wasn’t feeling great.
"On the morning I felt fine in the warm-up and a lap into the race I was where I wanted to be. However, in the second lap instead of progressing through I was going slightly backwards and from there on in it was a battle,” he stated of his eventual 43rd position.
Having turned 35 earlier this year, the next aim will probably be the National Masters C-C which this season is scheduled for Castlelyons on February 13. “I’m still trying to come to terms with being a master, I’m not entirely sure yet but I might do it,” he says.
Having suffered a lot from injuries in the past, this year, which undoubtedly has been his most successful to date, he puts down to being injury-free.
“That have been a big part to play in it, I had a good base training up to May or June, I started doing sessions then and that’s where the form came from, consistent, less intense, training.”
Long-term, the focus will be on the marathon where, in his only attempt at the distance, he recorded a highly-promising 2:21:03 at Dublin in 2018.
"I’ve done a good bit of it in the past, including a third in the Snowdon race [in Wales]. That was the only kind of international race I did mountain-running wise so that would definitely be a goal over the next two or three years.”
Tim O’Donoghue was accompanied at the function by his parents, Ray and Therese, his wife Eimear (former double Cork Camogie All-Star winner Eimear O’Sullivan) and their children Chloe and Ava.
The Cork City Sports Athletics Person of the Month Award is sponsored by the River Lee, 96&C103FM, The Echo, Cork Crystal and Leisureworld.