Tributes have poured in from the world of athletics for the sadly-departed Jerry Kiernan. They all suggest that Kiernan was exactly the same philosopher-runner he appeared to be when providing punditry.
No tribute to Kiernan was as personal and as powerful as Ciara Mageean's. Kiernan coached Mageean for years before she moved to Manchester in 2017 to be coached by Steve Vernon.
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
Speaking to Greg Allen on RTÉ Drivetime programme yesterday, Mageean gave a truly wonderful tribute to her former coach and the profound influence he had on her running career and development as a human.
'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.
'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.'
'I felt like a daughter. He was like a father to me.
'My boyfriend will probably be upset to hear that it wasn’t hard to leave him and come to Manchester but it was hard leaving Jerry. I felt like I had broken is heart a little bit.
'He spoke so passionately about the past, but he didn’t live in the past at all. He didn’t carry an air of a great athlete. There are many athletes you meet in Ireland and they are guests of honour whenever they go. Jerry just came and sat down. I loved that about him.
'When he took me my under his wing, he made me believe in my ability. He was a special man and there will be never be another Jerry Kiernan, that’s for sure.
We can only imagine how excited Kiernan was to see Mageean smash Sonia O'Sullivan's Irish record in the 1000m last August. You can get an insight into Mageean's rapport with her coach in this short clip.
'Oh, jeez! That was closer than I thought!' Ciara Mageean reacts to her 800m win alongside her coach Jerry Kiernan. pic.twitter.com/3qd2KnJQQL
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) July 23, 2017
There may never be another Jerry Kiernan, but the likes of Ciara Mageean will carry his torch onwards.