National gold for Joe at last

Tom Comack sport@donegaldemocrat.com @dgldemocrat

A Mayo man living in Donegal for over 50 years has finally realised a boyhood dream by winning athletic gold.

Retired garda sergeant from Dungloe, Joe Joyce, realised his dream at the National Masters Athletics Championship in Tullamore, the weekend before last.

Joe, a Connacht Colleges silver medalist in the Shot Putt from his school days, claimed three medals at the National Masters.

He won gold in the shot putt, the discus and the 28lb weight for distance disciplines, in the 70 to 80 years age category.

“It was great to win and finally to get my hands on those gold medals,” Joe told the Democrat.

“It may have taken 75 years but it was worth the wait. I won the Shot Putt first and then the discus and I only decided to enter the weight for distance competition on the day.

“I did a lot of throwing when I was at school and I won a Connacht silver medal in the Shot in 1959 and the same year I was only half an inch away from winning an All-Ireland Colleges gold medal in the Shot. “

Joe, who hails from Ballyvary, outside Castlebar, was a member of the Castlebar Athletic Club growing up.

And when he moved to Donegal, he joined Strabane Athletic Club, because there was no club in Donegal.

He later joined Cranford AC and then when he moved to Dungloe, he joined Rosses AC.

Down the years he coached and worked with young athletes in the club but due to work and family commitments hadn’t competed in years.

But after chatting with Aidan Gillespie at a Rosses AC presentation function at the end of last year he decided to go into training again.

“I spoke to Ronan Brennan and he made out a training programme for me and I began working away nicely and quietly on my own.

“My first competitive outing was at a meeting in Lifford back in May and I won the Shot and Discus competitions.

“A few weeks later I won the Shot and Discus at the Donegal Masters at the Finn Valley and from there I went to the Ulster Masters at the Mary Peters Track, Belfast.’’

Joe completed the clean sweep of Donegal, Ulster and National titles in Tullamore the weekend before last.

He is keeping his fingers crossed now that his success after so many years is an omen and that Mayo footballers’ long wait for All-Ireland success may be about to come to an end when they face Dublin in the All-Ireland final in two weeks time.