A glance at Dublin University Harriers and Athletics Club’s (DUHAC) results in field events this year is enough to tell you that this season was a wildly successful one. DUHAC medalled at a number of major meets this season, including Colours, Road Relays and Intervarsities.
However, a closer look at the results achieved by the club at keystone events reveal that DUHAC’s field performance this season was one of their best in years – in some cases, it was unprecedented.
Here at The University Times, we’ve taken a deep dive into the figures behind DUHAC’s historic season.
IUAA Intervarsity Cross-Country Championship
DUHAC shone at the last event the club partook in before the cessation of sport in Trinity and beyond. Led by Clíona Murphy – who claimed an individual gold medal – the women’s team finished in first place, ousting a Dublin City University (DCU) team who were aiming for their fourth gold medal in a row. The men’s team finished in third with 107 points – enough to secure their first medal at the event in 15 years, and pip NUI Galway by two points.
Murphy tells The University Times that success at the event was in DUHAC’s sights as early as September: “Personally, I was fourth last year and literally just pipped on the line for third … after that, I was absolutely bitter, and personally I decided that that was not happening again this year.”
“In September, as captain and for myself, I said that cross-country is definitely something we could aim for this year. And then, all of those competitions in the winter semester, they were proof that we were able to do it … it was something we were aiming for, and it paid off in the end.”
The last time DUHAC saw both teams medal at this event was back in 2005, with the women’s team securing bronze and the men’s – led by Olympian Mark Kenneally – taking home the silver.
I was fourth last year and literally just pipped on the line for third … I was absolutely bitter, and I decided that that was not happening again
1998 was also a strong year for DUHAC at the intervarsities, when both teams won a silver medal that day. Iain Morrison, now a coach at DUHAC, led the men’s team to their second place finish that day.
However, you have to go back to 1982 to find a year where Trinity achieved a better result than their 2020 universities performances, when women’s and men’s teams won silver and gold respectively.
In a sport dominated at collegiate level by DCU since the launch of their dedicated athletics scholarship program in 2001, DUHAC have been at the forefront of the chasing pack. Over the course of the competition’s history, DUHAC women have medalled 15 times – four of which were gold. This leaves Trinity second in overall medal count, and four behind DCU.
DUHAC men have struggled to compete with DCU and University College Dublin over the years. They have a medal count of four since the competition began, leaving them level with five other competing institutions.
That being said, a drastic improvement from recent showings at the intervarsities points to the DUHAC men’s growing success in field events. The combined score of Trinity’s sixth best placed through to 12th best placed athlete was 245 points – some 14 points fewer than the final score amassed by the men’s team at the intervarsities in 2016.
Writing in an email to The University Times after the intervarsity success this year, Harriers captain Alan McGinley said: “It’s rare that anything meets your highest expectations, but the performances on both men’s and women’s side did that at the weekend.”
“Looking at all the different stats on our performances, it’s clear to see that new ground was broken on every front in what will go down as a historic weekend for the club.”
IUAA Intervarsity Road Relays
Last November, DUHAC made history at the annual Road Relays meet, held in Maynooth University. A DUHAC women’s team consisting of Caron Ryan, Sorcha McAllister, Clíona Murphy and Eavan McLoughlin recorded a time of 34 minutes, 10 seconds to claim gold – the first gold at the event for a Trinity team since the conception of the competition in 1987.
Murphy knew DCU would pose a serious threat to their drive for gold that day: “We knew we were going head to head against [DCU] in all of our competitions … it was never a given that we were going to win it, because they’re quality runners as well.”
“We knew we could do it, but we just had to go out and perform on the day. It was great, conditions were perfect, it was definitely memorable.”
This year’s performance by the women’s team marked a steady improvement in displays at the Road Relay event. In 2017, the team languished in 10th place with a time of 37 minutes and 51 seconds. This year’s win saw DUHAC improve their finish time by five seconds compared to their 2018 finish, when they won a silver medal.
We knew we were going head to head against DCU in all of our competitions … it was never a given that we were going to win it, because they’re quality runners
Although the men’s team did not fare as well as their counterparts, their time of 46 minutes 50 seconds was another consistent improval. This finished eighth this season, four places and 56 seconds better off than they were in 2018.
A general increase in the calibre of athletes on display at intervarsity field events was reflected in the men’s team’s eighth place finish. Their final time last November would have secured them a fourth-place finish at the same event in 2016.
DUHAC produced a total whitewash at this year’s Colours event. Trinity retained the Colours trophy in both the women’s and the men’s race, and saw the club secure three podium positions in both events.
Victory for the men’s team followed a breakthrough performance in 2019, when they defeated UCD after suffering years of pain at hands of their Belfield rivals. Oísin McKinley took the individual gold this year, with the unassailable Murphy taking pole position in the women’s race.
Murphy credits much of the club’s outstanding success this season to coach Iain Morrison. Since rejoining the club he ran with in his undergraduate days, Morrison has made a tangible impact at DUHAC: “The club ethos is always: ‘Everyone matters as much as everyone else.’ At training, everyone’s training is just as important as everyone else’s, no matter if you’re at the front of the group or at the back of the group.”
“[Iain] has taken that ethos from his student days and brought it to his coaching, I think. His influence in the last five years has really built up the team.”
“The fact that he’s had a chance to build the team around him, we’ve had our best results, in the men’s and the women’s, we’ve had our best results this year in a long time.”