"UCC from the depths of hell ..."
It might be a slight hyperbole, but it's the only way Cathal Dennehy could possibly have called the thrilling finish to the Irish Universities Athletics Association track and field championships this past weekend.
The stunning finish to the 4x400 meter relay features a comeback of improbable proportions and perhaps the most excited radio call of any race in the history of track and field. OK, that might also be an exaggeration, but watch and listen for yourself.
University College Dublin had a huge lead entering the final lap in the 4x400-meter relay. And by huge, there's at least a 30-meter gap between UCD's anchor and second-place University of Limerick. University College Cork isn't even in the picture at this point -- at least 60 meters back.
With about 200 meters left, UL's Michelle Finn takes over the lead and Cork Institute of Technology takes over second place for the fading UCD. UCC's Phil Healy still hasn't entered the frame. Then, with about 150 meters left, Healy makes her move.
Healy, who earlier won the 200-meter with a time of 23.93 seconds, blazes down the outside with the run of her life. She vaults from fifth place into first and overtakes Finn to win the championship, collapsing immediately after she crosses the finish line. (Yes, she is OK. Winning makes everything better.)
Hello lactic 🙋🙋great to run the last leg for @uccathletics 4x4 and end up getting the win...And also a few grazes 😂😂 https://t.co/p8Fi6r5p4F— Phil Healy (@philhealy2) April 16, 2016
But comeback aside, the call is tremendous. Both Dennehy and Ronan Duggan called the race as if it were the Olympics, and it sounded as exhilarating even though no more than 100 people were at the stadium, Dennehy said on the "Dan Patrick Show" on Wednesday.
The YouTube clip has more than 1.2 million views, and Dennehy, who thinks Healy's speed is the highlight rather than his voice, wrote a reflection about the power of sport.
"It was also a lesson of hope in the face of overwhelming odds," he wrote, "and a necessary reminder that at [its] best, nothing evokes as much adrenaline and absolute awe in us as the beauty of sport."
As for Healy? Aside from trying to figure out how she can top herself -- "I can retire now!" she told the Irish Examiner -- she has managed to escape from the "depths of hell" and is onto the next race.
Despite all the hype it was business as usual for @philhealy2 today @uccathletics @alanrmahoney #fromthedepthsofhell pic.twitter.com/a521Lf1qqe— Shane McCormack (@mcwexford) April 19, 2016