Curley Cunningham RIP
The running community in Tipperary and Limerick has lost one of its heroes, Michael Cunningham, known to most as Curley, who passed away in Milford Care Centre following illness.
There has been a huge outpouring of grief for the Mooreabbey Milers AC athlete who was recognised wherever he went with his trademark curly locks and green and white headband.
Curley loved to run, loved to race and loved to chat about all things running related. He performed at a consistently high level, often completing three to four races in a week and ending up on the podium for most.
What was unique about his achievements was that the distance didn't matter, he could race in a 5k on a Friday, half marathon on a Saturday and a mountain race on a Sunday, frustrating the life out of those he beat!
For the last number of years he was completing over 100 races per year, inspiring others to follow in his footsteps. So many people had the honour of running with this great man as a result of this and they all have a story or two to tell.
From competing in county and Munster roads and cross country championships to iconic road races, fun runs, park runs, trail races, mountain races, he did it all, with ease.
Curley was recognised for his contribution to athletics with a Munster Star Award which he received in 2015. He won numerous international medals in mountain running, most recently a bronze team medal at the World Masters Mountain Running Championships which took place in Wales in 2015.
Curley was a quiet, unassuming individual with a kind word of encouragement for all no matter how fast or slow they were.
As his good friend Tom Blackburn said - "If you took the time to get to know him, he was worth the effort".
Never one to demand attention, he would modestly recount his results and thoughts on a race to anyone who asked. He will be remembered fondly as a gentle man, fantastic athlete, a good friend and an all round nice guy. He is a hero to so many people both young and old and will never be forgotten.
PRO of the Mooreabbey Milers Tricia Ryan said - "For the past number of years I thoroughly enjoyed texting Curley on a Sunday night to find out how many races he had run during the week, where they were and what his times and positions were.
"He would say "Ah, I did an old 5k in Clare on Saturday morning, a nice 10k in Cork on Saturday evening and sure I met you at the mountain race today in Kerry. Happy out with how I got on."
"I'll miss being amazed by his antics, I'll miss him, as will his family, partner and many many friends".
Rest in peace Curley.