Tullamore Harriers Club Report 12th October 2020
Tullamore Harriers are deeply saddened at the sudden loss of Pat Hooper of Raheny Shamrock who was a great friend of our club and had many links to us over the years.
At the height of his competitive career he was on the podium for three consecutive years 1978 to 1980 when the National Marathon Championships were hosted in Tullamore. On the 18th June 1978 he followed his younger brother Dick home in 2:24:08. The race had a record field of 102 finishers and went from Tullamore to Kilcormac and back and finished in the grounds of Tullamore Harriers where construction of the new tartan track was underway. The race was held in conditions described as “blazing sunshine” and “scorching heat”. The famed Hooper brothers had the added bonuses of combining to win the team title with the minimum score and earn automatic selection for the European Championships held later that year in Prague.
1979 was the year when Pat won his two national individual titles, winning his first the 15-mile title in Lanesboro in April. Pat returned to Tullamore on the 8th July 1979 to win the National Marathon title in his career best time of 2:17:46. As well as the championship the event doubled as an international match between Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and Denmark in which Pat was also the victor. Like 1978 the race was from Tullamore to Kilcormac and back, however this time it finished with a lap of the new tartan track which was enjoying its opening weekend hosting a track & field international as well as the marathon. Unlike the heatwave of the previous year the description was “typical Irish weather conditions of wind & rain”.
On the 18th May 1980, the Hooper brothers returned to Tullamore and repeated the feat of two years earlier with Dick winning and Pat finishing second in 2:19:53. The conditions of 1978 also reappeared and were described as “blistering sunshine”. As a result, Pat had a titanic struggle on the way home to get the silver medal position, suffering from cramps brought on by the “unintentional” assistance of someone pouring a bucket of ice-cold water on him. It was worth the effort as the Hooper brothers as a result gained selection for the Moscow Olympics and again Raheny Shamrock took the team title with the minimum score. We are proud that Pat’s three international appearances for Ireland were associated with Tullamore having qualified for two major games in 1978 & 1980 and winning the international match here in 1979.The top Tullamore Harriers finisher during those three home marathons was our own Mick Hayden who was a great friend of Pat over the years.
Apart from those three magnificent performances Pat would have graced Tullamore on many other occasions with his beloved Raheny Shamrock teammates on the road competing in the Quinlan Cup and on the track in the Tullamore Harriers Stadium.
After his competitive career was over Pat gave a huge contribution at all levels of our wonderful sport and would have returned to Tullamore as a coach/mentor, administrator and official on many occasions. As a Race Director he achieved magnificent success in building up the Raheny 5 mile into the event it is today and would many times tell his friends in Tullamore that he was delighted to take up the date vacated by the Quinlan Cup years before, the date couldn’t have passed into better hands.
Pat’s last visit to Tullamore was on the 31st August 2019 to the annual half marathon, he was representing Athletics Leinster as the event incorporated the Leinster Half Marathon. He was a proud man when Freddy Situk carried the Raheny Shamrock colours home in first place. Pat was also interviewed by the race commentator as he was returning to the scene on the 40thanniversary of his National Marathon victory in 1979 and received a tremendous warm response from those present. His visit book ended dates for the Tullamore Harriers track; Pat was first across the line on the opening event of the first track surface in 1979 and was present at the last event held onsecond surface in 2019, sadly he didn’t get to see the third surface.
Tullamore Harriers extend deepest sympathy to Dave and Bronagh his son and daughter, to Dick his brother and the extended Hooper family, to Raheny Shamrock Athletic Cl
Pat, our friend may you R.I.P.