1980s

February 1980 in a very muddy Killeshin, Jimmy Hunsten led the Club team to Silver medals in the National Intermediate Cross-Country, and the team was backed up by Johnny Ryan, Lar Ryan, Sean Caplice. In 1983, the Ryan brothers were on a Laois team that won the Leinster Senior Cross-Country in Santry.

During the early 80s Club membership slumped and titles of any sort were hard to come by. The Ladies team however continued on a winning streak of Senior titles, which lasted right up until 1992. Emer Fennelly, David Hughes and Paul Conway won medals at National level. Paul’s brother Joe won a track scholarship to an American University. The girls Relay team backboned by a group from the Heath won Silver medals in the Girls U13, made up of Caroline Cahill, Geraldine Buggy, Eileen Fitzpatrick and Emer Fennelly.

Caroline Condron emerged to be the leading light in the late eighties. As well as winning many Cross-Country events, she also set a number of National records in Walking Races and in the British Championships in Sheffield finished a close second in the 3k Walk.

The return of Tony Conway from America in 1986 boosted the Senior team. Tony won the Leinster Novice and Intermediate as well as County Senior Cross-Country, and then, along with Joe Cusack, Martin McDonald and Jimmy Keenan went on to win the National Intermediate Cross-Country on a North Laois team in February 1987.

In 1986 North Laois AC was formed between Ballyfin, Portlaoise, North Ossory and Clonaslee Clubs, as it was found that more rural Clubs could no longer challenge the big city Clubs. This brought immediate success with the winning of the Leinster Novice and National team placings in other major competition. The Juvenile section have got great benefit with many Relay teams winning National honours.

80s_1
Mary Dunne in action in 1985

The womens teams continued their unbeaten run in County Senior competition. Athletes such as Mary Loughman, Caroline Condron, Mary Dunne, Breda Allen, Frances Harney and Patricia Keenan were the leading ladies along with the O’Brien sisters. They also won the Midland League and Four County League in the late 80s.