Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Villanova re-opens the Irish Pipeline with Siofra Cleirigh Buttner

Siofra Cleirigh Buttner- Off to Villanova

At the 1948 Olympics in London, two Villanova Olympians, George Guida and Browning Ross befriended Jimmy Reardon, a 400m runner from Dublin who was running for the Irish team and convinced him to accept an athletic scholarship to Villanova. Along with discus thrower Cummin Clancy and middle distance runner John Joe Barry, Reardon became the first Irish athlete to accept a scholarship to an American university. Over the next 50 years, some of Ireland's greatest athletes, including Olympic gold medalist Ron Delany, world champion and world record holder Eamonn Coghlan, world indoor champion Marcus O'Sullivan, and world champion and Olympic silver medalist Sonia O'Sullivan represented Villanova with distinction, helping the school dominate the Penn Relays.

In the late 1980s, Villanova's supremacy with Irish athletes began to dwindle, and by the late 90s, Villanova simply wasn't getting any good Irish talent, despite the fact that they were coached by one of the greatest Irish runners in history.

In the 2000s, Villanova began to look elsewhere on the globe for talent, and some of their most successful runners in recent years have come from Australia and New Zealand, mostly thanks to the success of  2002 NCAA indoor champ Adrian Blincoe, who became a Villanova assistant coach after he graduated from Villanova.

It also turns out that Marcus O'Sullivan has been stepping up his efforts on the Emerald Isle, and this year, his efforts have borne fruit for the first time in more than a decade, with Dublin native and six time Irish schoolgirl cross country champion Siofra Cleirigh Buttner, enrolling in classes for the fall.

With Emily Lipari graduating, Cleirigh Buttner is an immediate coup for the Villanova track and cross country teams given her pedigree back at home .

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