Nicky Cooney

OLYMPICS: 1980

OLYMPICS: 1980

SPORT: SHOOTING [SKEET]

Nicky Cooney was born on 23 JUL, 1934 in Drogheda, Co. Louth and attended the CBS in Drogheda, primary and secondary and went on to study accountancy. In 1963 he and his wife Mary moved to St. Michael’s Road, Tipperary Town. In the early 1970’s Nicky was accountant to M&J Gleeson in Borrisoleigh whose primary business was that of a Guinness bottler, supplemented by some wholesaler trade. In 1974 he and his brother Pat bought out the firm which employed 13 people, but three years later Guinness pulled the plug on the Tipperary operation, and the Cooneys were forced to diversify. As the water supply was not always great the Cooneys drilled their own borehole in a bid to regulate their factory’s water. That borehole led them to the unexpected prize of “exceptional water”, and after years of testing Tipperary Natural Mineral Water was launched in 1986. The Cooneys retained the M&J Gleeson [now the Gleeson Group] name and employs over 700 people and the firm produces many other drinks such as Merry’s Cream Liqueur, Devil’s Bit Cider and Finches soft drinks but it’s best known product is Tipperary Natural Mineral Water which in 1987 became the first Irish bottled water to qualify for European Union natural mineral water status.

Outside family and business, Nicky’s main interest was shooting - in particular competitive clay pigeon shooting. He even once set up a factory in Clonmel making clay pigeon targets. He was a first-class shot and represented Ireland on many occasions at International meetings, winning many honours both at home and abroad and has been national champion. He won the Irish Open Olympic Skeet Championship in 1971; the Irish Closed Olympic Skeet Championship in 1983, 1985 and 1988; and the Irish Olympic Skeet Grand Prix in 1979, 1982 and 1983. He competed in the World Trap and Skeet Championships both in 1975 at Munich, Germany and in 1977 at Antibes, France and has also competed in the European Shooting Championships. Undoubtedly, Nicky’s biggest achievement was qualifying to represent Ireland at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Qualification for the Olympic Games required a very high level of skill over a three year period, with consistent good shooting. At the Dynamo Shooting Range, in Moscow, Nicky’s clay pigeon shooting event [skeet shooting] took place just the day before his 46th birthday, and with 200 targets he shot 180 to finish in 41st place.

While in Dublin he shot for St Margaret’s Gun Club based at Balheary, was one of the founder members of the Tipperary Gun Club in 1966, and formed his own gun club in Clogheen in the early 1970’s. It was with this club, Clogheen Gun Club he shot with in 1980 and beyond up to the early 1990’s. He won a Cidona Award [now Annerville Award] for Shooting at the 1980 Tipperary Sports Awards. Nicky Cooney died on 2 March, 1999 age 64 and is buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery, Tipperary Town. His love for shooting was instilled in all his children – and he was great friends with fellow International clay pigeon shooter Tony Sheehan [native of Killusty].

Next Week: Paul Donovan, 1500m & 5000m runner at Olympics.

©Michael O’Dwyer

You can contact Michael by email: tipp-olympians@hotmail.com