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Club History

Magherafelt and District Athletic Club was officially formed on 22nd February 1980. Barrie Holmes, having ran athletics and road races in the town as part of the Mad May Festival for three years prior to this date,called a public meeting and the first committee was, President Mr. Bertie Watterson, Chairman Mr Ivor Reynolds, Secretary Mr Barrie Holmes, Treasurer Mr ??, with Mrs Barbara Holmes, Long Jump Coach, Miss Pauline Holbrook, Throws Coach, Mrs Jenny Aitken High Jump Coach, Dr. Tony Ramsay Pole Vault Coach, Mr Billy Mills Hurdles Coach, Mr Barrie Holmes Middle Distance Coach, Mr Sidney Irvine, Team Manager, Mr Ivor Reynolds Junior Coach, Mr Ian McKay and Mr Brendan Doyle committee. The first Club Captain was Mark Walsh followed by Elisabeth Monaghan first Ladies Captain The club based themselves at the grass track at the new sports fields at the Queen Elizabeth Park later changed to Meadowbank Recreation Centre. 

 

In 1992 The Council built a ‘J’ Track the first of its kind in Ireland.  It was based on a Scottish design and was floodlit, synthetic, and had four lanes and was165 metres long with a bend. It had facilities for pole vault, long and triple jump, relay change over, hurdle markings, shot, discus and javelin.  It was opened by the Council Chairman, Councillor Mary McSorley assisted by Dalton Grant the British High Jump Champion and Tommy Hughes from Maghera known as the Marakeesh Express as a result of his marathon exploits. To complete the opening ceremony, Barrie Holmes acquired the assistance of 12 Russian athletes on their way home to Russia from an international meeting in Belfast to compete at the event and one of them later that year went on to win the world indoor hurdles championships in Canada and in addition to the Magherafelt Club, Ballinascreen A. C., Tailte Ladies A.C. Belfast, Sparta Athletic Club, Derry, County Antrim Harriers and Cookstown High School Athletics Club competed. 

 

At this point with an influx of new members coming from all over the Province the club name was changed to Mid Ulster Athletic Club.  The club has always been at the forefront of innovative ideas and pioneered the idea of music before, during and after road races here in Magherafelt. The club compete in road racing, Cross country, mountain running and track and field.  They compete all over Ireland and in Scotland, Wales and England.  The club has held Northern Ireland, Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English and UK Titles and in addition N.I. and Irish records and UK rankings.  The club have promoted cross country, mountain running, road races and track and field competitions. They are currently very involved with Sportshall Athletics for secondary schools and Fun in Athletics for the primary sector. The club have also organised Disability Sportshall Athletics.  

 

The two most notable senior athletes to date are Brian Forbes and Paul Tohill.  Brian Forbes competed for Northern Ireland in 400metres at the Commonwealth Games in Kula Lumpa, Mayalisa and for Ireland has competed all over Europe and was the joint Irish record holder at 4x 400metre relay.  He was twice the 400m champion of Ireland.  Paul Tohill was a multi event athlete who competed all over Europe for the senior Great Britain team and was the Senior UK decathlon champion and the Irish 60m hurdle indoor champion he also competed for Ireland at the World Junior Championships in Poland at Long Jump. Kevin McCloy, a junior athlete, was a 400m triple Irish champion who has dipped under 50seconds on several occasions. He is now a very successful 800m runner.  He has competed for Ireland in The Youth Olympics in Paris and in club competition all over Europe. There have also been a multitude of Northern Ireland Internationals.

 

In the past the club have competed in the Northern Ireland Senior Track and Field League winning Division Two and gaining promotion to Division One.  They have competed in the British Senior League and the Irish Senior Mazda League with success. The club now have over two hundred members on the books.  The club is organised into various sections for example, mini minor group 5years to 7years, junior group 8 years to 10 years, the emerging group 11 to 13 years and the senior group. We currently have 25 qualified coaches ranging from Working with Children in Athletics, to Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 coaches.  We have a strong policy of encouraging athletes and parents into coaching.  We have event coaches for Sprints and Hurdles, Jumps and 300/400m, Middle Distance, 11 to 13 emerging group and the Throws Group with a very strong hammer section of good seniors and promising juniors. The club currently have a Child Protection Policy and an Anti-Sectarian Policy.

 

On Friday 14th March 2008 the Council Chairman Councillor Paul McClean officially opened the Meadowbank Indoor Sports Arena and Running Track Complex.  To complement the opening Barrie Holmes arranged for the Tom Pink Relays and the Junior Highland Games, (a first for Northern Ireland), to be held on the indoor running track for local primary and secondary schools.  On the Friday morning 800 pupils from the primary sector competed in an exciting programme and in the afternoon 300 secondary school pupils took to the track for their events.  The indoor arena is the largest of its kind in Europe and in addition to catering for every conceivable sport it also has a flat five lane 300 metre running track with two eight lane tracks for 60metre sprints.  To complete the opening ceremony, on the Saturday 15th March, 400 young people between the ages of twelve and nineteen competed in the Northern Ireland and Ulster Juvenile Indoor Championships. The Irish Juvenile under 19 indoor championships was held in the arena on the week end 4/5 April 2009, another first for Magherafelt and Northern Ireland.

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