Gardas Louise Long, David Craig, Clive Glancy, Kieran Lees, Caherconlish, and David Mansfield
NO CRIMINAL would want Garda Kieran Lees chasing after them.
The Caherconlish-based garda is one of the fastest men in the force. Garda Lees only took up running four years ago but has recently completed his third ever marathon in two hours 37 minutes.
The 39-year-old Emly man was picked in the five-strong Ireland team for the European Police Championship Marathon in Dublin.
Garda Lees explains that there is qualifying time to make it in to the team. Only the most fleet footed gardai in Ireland get to represent the country they protect.
They were up against 39 other countries including the French gendarmerie, German landespolize and Spanish guardia civil. Ireland just missed out on a medal as they finished fourth.
“It was super. It was the highest ever ranking the gardai have finished in it. Hopefully I can stay on the team in the years to come,” said Garda Lees, who runs with Mooreabbey Milers Athletic Club in Galbally. Garda Lees is full of praise for the main coach, Tom Blackburn, who helped him on his journey. Tom was the running partner and great friend of the late and much missed Michael “Curley” Cunningham from Cappamore.
Garda Lees is very modest about his Dublin marathon time of two hours and 37 minutes but it is only 24 minutes slower than the overall winner.
“I was happy enough with it. I can’t complain, I did my first marathon last year. I did Dublin in 2017 and Limerick this year to qualify for it. It’s my third ever marathon,” said Garda Lees, who won the Coiste Siamsa Garda Siochana cross county race last year.
“Absolutely, that’s the plan,” when asked if he wants to beat his marathon time. Garda Lees only took up running once his hurling and football career with Emly GAA Club ended.
He has thrown himself into as he somehow manages to get out training six times a week as well hold down a busy job and family. Wife Carmel and sons John, aged 10 and Ciaran, 8, were very proud when he crossed the finish line in Dublin.
“It is a lot of sacrifice for them when I am going out training for three hours on a Sunday morning,” said Garda Lees, who also has the backing of all in Mooreabbey Milers and Irish athlete Sergiu Ciobanu, who has helped him train.
He says he also got great support from fellow gardai in Limerick and his superiors, who both have strong sporting links. His sergeant in Caherconlish is former Limerick hurler Mick Nash, while his superintendent in Roxboro, Eamon O’Neill is a member of the Limerick hurlers’ two-man logistics team. Former Bruff superintendent, Assistant Commissioner Marie McMahon, chairperson of Coiste Siamsa, congratulated Garda David Mansfield who won the men's individual title and all on the garda team.
Burglars in Caherconlish better beware!