“There’ll never be another Jerry Kiernan, that’s for sure.”
European medallist Ciara Mageean paid an emotional tribute to Jerry Kiernan who has served as a coach to the middle-distance runner when she was based in Dublin.
Kiernan’s passing, aged 67, was announced on Thursday. The former Olympian took up coaching following his retirement from the sport and was instrumental in developing top athletes such as Mageean and John Travers.
Mageean spoke on RTE Drivetime following her former coach’s death and paid an emotional tribute to the two-time Dublin Marathon winner.
There will be a few people who walk through your life and leave lasting footprints in your heart. Jerry Kiernan was one of those people. I feel truly blessed and privileged to have been able to call him my coach and friend.
Thank you Jerry, for everything. pic.twitter.com/FaxJPd27v0
— Ciara Mageean (@ciaramageean) January 21, 2021
“He was more than a coach to me; he was a friend and a mentor and to be honest he was like a father figure,” she revealed.
“He had this special ability to meet anybody at their level. He was humble and a tough man.
“People from the outside probably thought he was hard and stern. But anybody who knew him knew that wasn’t the case.
“He was a big softie. He had two lovely sons and I know they will miss him dearly.”
Kiernan took Mageean under his wing back in 2012 when she was struggling as a runner. She was suffering from a chronic ankle injury which threatened to end her running career.
However, the former cross-country champion gently nursed her back to health and watched as her talent blossomed on the world stage — culminating in the European 1500m medal in 2016.
Ciara explained how difficult it was for her to leave Dublin and Kiernan behind when it was time for her to move to Manchester. She said that the move distressed her then-coach.
I’m very sorry to hear the news about Jerry Kiernan. Although he went on to be an Olympian I’ll always remember him as my National school teacher. He had a great influence on me and was an inspiration to all the children he taught. pic.twitter.com/M1NnPqZgKb
— Jim O'Callaghan (@OCallaghanJim) January 21, 2021
The 28-year-old also highlighted how the Listowel native was never one to dwell on the past and that his down to earth character was something she admired.
“There’ll never be another Jerry Kiernan, that’s for sure,” she said.