HE might run out of the Crusaders Club in Dublin but Eoin Mulhall is Naas through and through. He’s a Kildare man and a national senior 400 metre indoor champion, writes Ruth O’Brien
At the Odyssey Arena in Belfast recently Mulhall reached his first ever senior final, won it and ran a personal best to boot. Not bad for a 21 year old that was coaxed in to athletics by his father as a nine-year-old and his ambitions certainly don’t stop there.
A graduate of UCD, Eoin Mulhall strikes one as the kind of person that could turn his hand to most sports and excel. He has played football for Naas, has even represented Leinster in rugby and is now top of the pile in the indoor 400 metres. If it wasn’t for his father John, perhaps the latter would have never happened.
“When I was about nine my dad wanted me to do athletics because he was very good at it as well but I didn’t want to at all. I recall being quite upset that he made me go the first few times!
“I remember going to my first county championships and I won and I got a taste for it and took it from there. I didn’t really take athletics too seriously though until I was around 18 and during my first year in college. I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to UCD and that really kick started everything,” said Eoin, who also says his grandparents Jim and Una O’Sullivan have been influential in his career to date.
Mulhall might have only started to take the sport seriously three years ago but a year later he, under the tutelage of Brian Dowling in Naas AC, made it to European Junior Championships in Serbia. He has since switched clubs, is training in numbers and loving it.
“I got a very, very good coach John Coughlan. His group started off with four or five of us and now there’s ten of us and I’m probably one of the least successful out of the group!
“Paul Hession is one of the athletes is in the group so it’s really good training with people like that. I think being in the group has really helped improve me. In fairness to Brian Dowling, who coached me in Naas, he was excellent and got me to a European Junior Championships when I was 19 but I found training on my own very, very difficult. In the 400 (metres) you need guys that are pushing you along,” admitted the amiable Naas man.
He’s certainly being pushed in his club anyway. Competition is tough but that’s something he enjoys.
“When I was in UCD I did a lot of training in Irishtown, which is the track Crusaders use and my coach is from Crusaders. A couple of my training partners joined Crusaders so it made sense for me to join too. This year we’ve (Crusaders) got four guys doing my event who are all top quality. One is a senior international, two other guys are my age and are internationals as well so we’re going to have some relay team!” said Eoin.
Last September Eoin graduated from UCD with a degree in economics and he is currently doing supervision work is Naas CBS. Long term his plan is to do a masters, however, he has decided to give athletics his full attention and who knows where it might lead. London perhaps?
Well first up it’s leading Mulhall to the USA, California to be precise, for a training camp before the cut and thrust of the outdoor season gets underway.
“The outdoor season doesn’t start until May and I’m going to California with my group for a month in April until the start of May. That will be a very intense training camp and I think the plan is to race over there as well. When I come home there will probably be races every weekend for a good few weeks because of the year that’s in it with the Olympics and the Europeans,” he explained.
After winning the senior indoor title, victory outdoors is on Mulhall’s agenda. It’s will be a tough task but certainly not beyond the realms of possibility, while the national Under 23 Championships are also in his sights.
“It’s going to be very difficult for me to win an outdoor but it all depends on who runs on the day. It was a similar situation with the national indoors; there’s probably one or two guys that didn’t run that would have been serious challenges to me. It is championships though and on any given day anything can happen.
“The nationals are the big one and the national Under 23s, which I do plan on winning. Time wise my goal this year is to reach the European senior standard, which is 46.70. My personal best at the moment is 48.25 but the general rule of thumb is that you’re going to be quicker outdoors anyway. My coach thinks I can do it, in fact he thought I could have done it last year, so I’m hoping he’s right,” said Eoin, who is sponsored by family friend and former Naas senior football championship winning captain of 1990, Terry McDonald.
The Olympics are not off the cards yet either. There’s a possibility Mulhall could make the relay team for London.
“At the start of this year London wasn’t actually off the cards. They (Athletics Ireland) will send six for the relay squad. Up until a few weeks back it was still in the back of my mind. The bigger one for me really though has to be the Europeans because I have a decent chance of qualifying. It all really depends on David Gillick though. He’s Ireland’s best and the record holder and would be top eight in the world. Apparently, and I don’t know how much truth there is to it, he doesn’t really want to run. He didn’t run in the Europeans two years ago when the team could have possibly medalled in the relay and they ended up not getting to the final.
“If David Gillick did run there would be a very good chance of qualifying for the Olympics. If you stay in the top six you’re in the squad and if you stay in the top four you’re running,” he explained.
Eoin Mulhall could yet be representing his country and Kildare in London this summer but if it doesn’t happen he still has plenty of time on his side.
He also has the talent!