Report of the Honorary Secretary 1999/2000
127 years on, a new millennium and a new beginning for the IUAA. The constitutional changes regarding membership taking the IUAA into the new century on a new footing. It hasn’t been an easy run in the park either, with numerous low points taking away from all the hard work that has been put in this year and in previous years.
The 1999 IUAA AGM which took place in Earlsfort Terrace on 30th October saw some major restructuring of the constitution, the most significant change being the removal of the word ‘Associate Member’ from clause 3.1 and the introduction of a new voting system. To most of the people present this mightn’t have seemed like a big step but it was an issue that had been discussed in detail at the executive meeting on the 8th May 1999 and on the morning of the AGM. The reason for all the discussion at executive level was to make sure that the IUAA was ready to take this step, as it went a lot further than the deletion of two words from the constitution. For example, the responsibility of hosting the Championships comes with full membership. This could have huge financial implications for some of the smaller institutions, a cost which they mightn’t be prepared to take on.
The AGM also saw five new people elected onto the executive. Ms. Siobhan O’Keeffe and Mr Keir McNamara were elected on to fill the two Vice President positions and Dr. Iain Morrison was elected on as the Hon. Competitions Secretary. All three having served as Captains in their respective Universities. In addition Ms. Catherine Carroll and Mr. Noel Pollock were elected on as committee members. This brought the total number of IUAA eligible athletes on the executive to six enabling the feelings on the ground among athletes to be blended with the experience of the senior executive members. In addition Mr. Eric Brady succeeded Prof. Cyril Smyth, who had completed his term in office, as President. The eagerness with which the new members took up their positions on the executive can only be a good thing for the long term future of the IUAA.
To mark the new millennium every athlete who competed in the championships throughout the year received a special ‘millennium medal’. This was the second time such medals had been presented, the previous time being the 125 anniversary of the founding of University Athletics in Ireland. The impression that I received on the ground was that these medals were well received by the athletes.
The Celtic International Cross Country took place in the Phoenix Park on the 11th March 2000. This was the second running of the event and the excellent weather on the day capped of what could only be described as a superb event. Donore Harriers, in allowing us full access to their club house and for their help with the setting up of the course and Prof. Cyril Smyth for all the time and effort he devoted to organising this event, must both be thanked and congratulated on a job well done. This is an event which has captured the hearts of the athletes involved and one which I am sure will continue for many years to come.
The Antrim International Track & Field meeting at the Antrim Forum on 20th June 2000 was once again an excellent example of what University Athletics and team athletics is all about. The willingness among athletes to double up in events in an effort to secure maximum points for the IUAA again resulted in a very strong performance by the IUAA in this competition, during what can only be described as a very difficult time of year, with most institutions just finishing exams.
The previous five paragraphs mark what I considered to be some of the major successes during the last year. As I stated in my opening paragraph there were also some occurrences during the year that took some of the shine off the good points. The first of these was the lack of electronic timing on the Friday in Nenagh. In my report last year I said the following, ‘I would also like to point out that this oversight, regarding electronic timing, by the IUAA executive will not happen again in the foreseeable future.’ Twelve months later and here I am again apologising for the lack of electronic timing. The only difference being that the problem this year can’t be blamed on the executive, but instead the fault lies firmly with the company employed to do the timing, who failed to provide qualified staff to operate the equipment on the Friday. Athletes expect electronic timing and lets hope that all sides get it right in time for this years championships.
The second and third points can possibly be combined into one and they are the problems that marred the high standard of athletics on display at the Cross Country and the Track & Field Championships. The lack of facilities at the cross country was something that was discussed in detail at the Captains meeting and resulted in the hosts taking quite a battering from the floor. In defence of the hosts, they were forced to change venues several weeks prior to the event due to circumstances outside their control. This unfortunately didn’t surface at the meeting and resulted in the hosts receiving more criticism than they deserved, for what was after all an excellent course followed by an excellent evenings entertainment. The unfortunate lack of facilities must surly be something that does nothing to promote University Athletics among 1st years and is something that will be at the top of the list prior to an institution being awarded the championships in the future for both their first and second choice venue. The Track & Field championships fell victim to a similar fate with the building works on the new track side facilities not being completed in time for the championships, as promised by the contractors. This combined with a possible underestimation of the number of officials required on the day by the hosts resulted in a number of problems which lead to several start line incidents. This was unfortunate as it marred the very high standard of athletics on display. Both of these championships acted as catalyst to speed up the writing of a, ‘How to run an Intervarsities’ handbook by the executive. The Cross Country version will be ready in time for the AGM 2000 and it is hoped that the Track & Field version will be completed by Christmas. These handbooks will cover all the things that a host is required to do when hosting a championships, as it is quite often very simple and little things that are overlooked, but which can potentially lead to bigger problems on the day.
Additional the PRO, Mr Ian O’Sullivan felt that the position would be better filled by someone who could devote more time to the position and tendered his resignation to the President shortly after the cross country.
Now for a review of the Championships. The first Intervarstiy Championship of the season was the Road Relay Championships on the 13th November 1999 in the beautiful setting of The National University of Ireland, Maynooth. As usual the event was organised to a very high standard and the IUAA would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Paul Davis and his team from NUI Maynooth AC. This years field say record numbers competing. In what must have been a record time for the women’s race the University of Limerick took the victory ahead of the University of Dublin, Trinity College. The National University of Ireland - Galway finished third. The Men’s event was won by University College Cork, with University College Dublin and Dublin Institute of Technology finishing second and third respectively.
The Indoor T & F Championships took place in Nenagh Olympic Stadium on 3rd/4th December 1999. The ambient temperature was slightly cooler than in the previous two years but it did little to dampen the spirits of the athletes and officials alike. The Women’s Trophy went to the University of Limerick, with University College Dublin and the University of Dublin, Trinity College finishing second and third respectively. The men’s trophy also went to the University of Limerick with University College Dublin and Dublin Institute of Technology finishing second and third respectively. This is the only Intervarsity competition hosted by the IUAA and it puts huge strain on our ‘manpower’ to be able to provide officials, etc. in order to ensure the smooth running of the event. This years event was made even more difficult by the lack of electronic timing on the Friday (the reasons having being explained above) and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped with timing and the placing of athletes. Without your help the championships would not have been as successful as they were. Again as in previous years the majority of officials were from the University of Dublin, Trinity College. Other officials from other institutions did make themselves available over the course of the championships but I would like to see more institutions showing a willingness to get involved, as at the end of the day this is what University Athletics is all about. Again the IUAA executive is indebted to those people who did offer their services during the competition and looks forward to continued support and co-operation from all participants at this years Indoor Championship.
The Cross Country Championships were hosted by Cork Institute of Technology on 26th February 2000. The course provided an interesting mixture of hills, grass, mud, wind, rain and more mud. University College Dublin won the Women’s Race, with the University of Limerick and the University of Dublin, Trinity College finishing second and third respectively. University College Cork won the men’s race with the National University of Ireland - Galway and University College Dublin finishing second and third respectively. The combined ‘Badger’ trophy went to University College Dublin. There were problems on the day and these have been dealt with previously. The IUAA executive Committee would like to thank Cork Institute of Technology for the excellent work they did in hosting these Championships.
The Outdoor Track & Field Championships were hosted by the University Limerick on 14th/15th April 2000. The Women’s Trophy was won by the University of Limerick with University College Dublin and University College Cork finishing second and third respectively. The men’s Trophy was won by the University of Limerick with the University of Dublin, Trinity College and University College Cork finishing second and third respectively. The combined trophy went to the University of Limerick. Mistakes were made at these championships that have been discussed previously and lets hope that everyone can learn from them. For the second year running the championships also incorporated the combined Events Championships into the timetable. The idea behind this was to help increase numbers, which had fallen off in recent years. The team event was won by the University of Limerick, with the University of Dublin, Trinity College and University College Cork finishing second and third respectively. In its present format the future of this event looks secure.
The annual International Triangular Track & Field meeting between the Irish and Scottish Universities and the Northern Ireland. U23’s took place in The Antrim Forum on 20th June 2000. Fiachra Lombard of UCC and Claire O’Connor of QUB were the Captains. With most athletes doubling up the IUAA finished a close second in all three competitions. This is a very well organised event and it was good to see so many IUAA athletes competing and supporting their team colleagues, and most importantly, having a good time.
The World Student Cross Country Championships took place in Jena, Germany on 25th March 2000. Mr Dave Maley was team Coach, and Ms Sinead Coughlan was team Manager. The Irish men’s team comprising Cathal Lombard (47th), Nigel Brunton (57th), Fiachra Lombard (63rd), Conor McGee (64th), Gary Thorton (94th), Gearoid O'Connor (97th) finished twelfth (12th). The Irish Women’s team comprising of Maria McCambridge (13th), Mary Margaret Meade (21st), Orla O'Mahoney (49th), Emmanuel McMahon (61st) finished eighth (8th). These were very respectable performances by the Irish Athletes.
The IUAA AGM was held on the 30th October 1999 in Earlsfort Terrace, University College Dublin. Again I would like to apologise for the late arrival of information relating to the AGM but unfortunately there were a number of factors over which I had no control. The IUAA executive met prior to the Maynooth Road Relay Championships and after the Cross Country Championships in Cork. The executive also met on 17th June 2000 in Trinity. The executive is in constant communication throughout the year by both email and telephone. In general attendance at the Captain’s meetings was good although having said that I do believe that it could be better and I would encourage every club to attend as important decisions are made at these meetings. The IUAA web page has taken on a new look over the summer and also contains a lot more archived results.
For me, this is the end of three long, hard and rather time consuming years as Honorary Secretary. It is a job that I have enjoyed immensely and it has given me the opportunity to make a lot of friends on the athletics circuit, something that probably wouldn’t have arisen had I taken another position on the executive. Having said that I did make the position of Honorary Secretary into a position that put me in contact with all members. I was elected Honorary Secretary at the meeting in Maynooth in November 1997 and then proceeded to spend the next 12 months getting to know the job. In total I reckon it took me 18 months before I was in a position to do things without having to be asked by the more senior executive members. There is now a complete set of minutes for all the General Meetings (Captains), Executive Meetings and the AGMs over the last three years, something which I hope my successor will continue. I set up the ‘Secretary’s Corner’ page on the IUAA web page and posted all circulated information and the minutes of captains meetings on this page in a effort to make information available to as many people as possible. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their help and support over the last three years and to wish everyone the best of luck for the coming season.
Yours in Sport,
Hon. Secretary IUAA, November 1997- October 2000.