Limerick remembers athletics legend Ronnie Long as he is laid to rest

Photo: Sportfile

Tributes have been pouring in for Limerick sporting legend and broadcaster, Ronnie Long, who was laid to rest this week in Kilmurry Cemetery. 

The Olympic team manager, cyclist, and athletics coach, passed away peacefully on Saturday, September 30, at the age of 88. 

Born in Northampton, Long was raised in Mungret, where he quickly became a talented athlete and a member of the Limerick cycling team that rode Rás Tailteann in 1955. 

Limerick’s Live95 paid tribute to the former athlete with a special broadcast on ‘Limerick Today’ with Joe Nash with many colleagues and friends sharing their accolades on social media. 

On X, RTÉ Broadcaster Greg Allen shared memories of Long, saying: “Ronnie Long will be laid to rest today. We had many chats (me mostly listening) as he informed me of anyone that moved swiftly, jumped long/high or threw far (especially in Limerick) for the 41 years I knew him. An athletics man to the core who served, loved and lived his sport. RIP.”

In 1976, Long was team manager for Ireland at the Montreal Olympic Games and at the Indianapolis World Indoor Championships in 1987 where Ireland won double gold, which his son Barry described as one of his fathers’ proudest moments at his funeral yesterday.

Barry also remembered his father as a devoted father and grandfather, saying he “took pride in how they all turned out.”

Long’s own considerable talents were eclipsed, however, by a lifetime of top-level coaching and team management. With the formation of Bord Lúthchleas na hÉireann (BLE) in 1967 as the national governing body for athletics, Long began his 19-year tenure. 

He was also the driving force behind many events including the World Cross Country Championship coming to Limerick in 1979, when Irish runner, John Tracey, defended the title he won the year previously in Scotland, and the Irish men’s team won silver in front of a home crowd.

Alongside cycling, Long had a passion for rugby and was Treasurer of Galwegians in 1965 and Assistant Treasurer of the Connacht IRFU in 1967.

Former President of UL Bohemians R.F.C., Alan Ward, referred to Long as “a fantastic guy and a thorough gentleman who will be missed dearly,” saying in a tweet, “the positive impact he made on sport at all levels, especially @irishathletics and @UL cannot be underestimated.”

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