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[Note provisional results of top 4 in each age available at end of article.]

Craughwell AC enjoyed remarkable success at the fantastic new indoor facility in Athlone IT at the weekend on the occasion of the Connacht Indoor Track & Field – taking home a huge haul of 36 Connacht titles, 21 silver medals and 20 bronze medals – the strongest performance of any Connacht club. Over 120 athletes made the short trip to AIT to experience the thrill of competing in an international standard arena – even better than the Swedish venue that hosted the European Senior Track & Field at the weekend.

The day proved challenging for the Connacht officials due to the incredible numbers taking part with over 80 athletes entered in some of the events. It turned out to be a long day but full credit to the hard working officials and to the many volunteers from our own club who helped make the day a success.

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Craughwell U16 Girls 4x200m - Connacht Champions 2013
Michelle Duggan, Tara McNally, Leanne Freaney, Grainne McDaid

The club’s medal winning performances came across the full range athletics disciplines including long jump, high jump, sprints, hurdles, middle distance, race walking, shot putt and relays. A provisional list of athletes from the club who featured in the top 4 is listed below. Just to pick on a few highlights: 

(If anyone has more pics they'd like me to include here, please send them on - it will make my long-winded article appear shorter!) 

 

  • Nicholas Sheehan broke 2 club senior records on the day with a 23.5 time in the U18 200m and a 51.2 time in the 400m. The latter was particularly impressive as this was Nicholas’s first time running a 400m and is just 1.3 seconds shy off the IAAF standard for the World Youth Championships later this year and 2.55 short of the AAI’s standard for the same event. Nicholas went on to also win the U18 800m.

  • A sprint double for Tara McNally in the 60m and 200m. We don’t have official times yet for the day but Tara’s victories were very impressive. And for Michelle Duggan who won possibly her first Connacht sprint titles when blazing to victory in the U15 60m and 60m hurdles against top class opponents.

  • Double gold for several more athletes including

    • Orla Ryan, senior 200m and long jump
    • Maireád McCan, U19 60m and long jump
    • Paul Joyce, U19 800m and 1500m
    • Damien O’Boyle, U17 800m and 1500m
    • Daniel Callanan-Forde , U14 60m and long jump
    • Michael Hand, U13 high jump and shot putt

  • Dominating performances in the U14 boys age group where 7 athletes won a total of 11 individual medals out of 18 medals awarded in this age group.

A special mention also of the bravery of two athletes who suffered bad falls in the hurdles but both of whom got to their feet and completed their races despite being clearly hurt by the fall – Caoimhe Leen in the U13 girls hurdles and Caolin Milton in the U14 girls hurdles. Caoimhe showed exceptional determination when falling at a number of the hurdles, but each time picking herself up and continuing on. Caolin had the misfortune of taking her eye off the final hurdle when in 3rd position in the final and caught her trail leg on the hurdle, toppling her over and suffering a bad graze on both knees.

A quick round up of the ages ... I will add a lot more detail on times and the rest of our competitors performances when the results are published. For now, I am operating on information collected verbally from the coaches so apologies if I have missed anyone with a top 4 performance.

In the senior women’s events, Craughwell had a small but seriously strong trio in action who took a clean sweep of the high jump medals with Cathriona Farrell claiming gold with 1.60m, Katie O’Donoghue, silver with 1.55m and Orla Ryan bronze with 1.50m. Katie went on to take silver in the sprint with what looked like a very good time while Orla made it a very successful day with double gold in the 200m and long jump.

Maireád McCan was our sole competitor in the U19 girls age group. Pictured below while waiting patiently for her long jump to be measured, Maireád completed a double victory in the 60m sprint and long jump. Claire Ryder had a fantastic run in the U18 girls 60m, tying on the line for the top position which resulted in lengthy deliberations amongst the finishing judges and a referral to the photo-finish before Claire was awarded 2nd place. Claire went on to win the long jump and partnered with Sineád Treacy, Ciara Greene and Miriam Lacey to win silver in the U18 4x200.

 

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Maireád McCan
Connacht U19 Long Jump Champion

 

For Miriam, this was her first time in competition and she was remarkably cool, handling the relay like a professional and the same in the U17 60m and 200m where she handled the starting blocks with ease and had a good performance in both sprints. Sineád Treacy put in her usual lightening performances in the 60m and 200m to take silver and bronze. Up against one of the best runners in Europe in this age group in Laura Ann Costello, Sineád’s times looked seriously fast. She added further to her performance with a fine gold in the long jump in what was hopefully a new PB. In the same long jump competition, the smile on Ellen Fitzpatrick’s face after her 3rd jump had PB written all over it – but I need to catch the official results to get the details behind the smile! Ciara Greene put in a strong performance in the U17 800m and 1500m taking gold in the 800m and silver in the 1500m. Ciara also anchored the U17 relay team to silver medals along with Sineád Treacy, Tara McNally and Ellen Fitzpatrick. Ciara had the tough final leg where she was up against the aforementioned Laura Ann.

Tara McNally added to her U17 relay silver with triple gold in the U16 60m, 200m and 4x200m – powering around the track in her 200s. Her teammates in the 4x200m, Grainne McDaid, Leanne Freaney and Michelle Duggan made it easy for Tara as they held the lead when handing over to Tara for the final leg. Grainne and Leanne also battled bravely in the 800m but finished outside the medals on this occasion.

In the U15 girls, one of the most improved athletes in the club Michelle Duggan powered her way to glory on the inner track when taking gold in both the 60m and 60m hurdles, in the process beating one of the country’s finest athletes in the hurdles, Alannah Gannon from Mayo. It was a fine performance from Michelle and hopefully the beginning of a fantastic year. Michelle then partnered with Eimear Loughnane, Aoife Greene and Dearbhaile Walshe to take silver in the 4x200m relay. Dearbhaile and Aoife both ran well in the 800m, as did Eimear in the 60m sprint. Aoife went on to take bronze in the high jump with a new PB of 1.30m, underlining her potential for that event. Liam Moran raced to a silver medal in the U15 boys 800m with Matthew Barrett in 5th place.

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Craughwell U15 Girls 4x200m Relay Team
Michelle Duggan, Dearbhaile Walsh, Eimear Loughnane, Aoife Greene

 

Caoimhe O’Donoghue made a fantastic return to competitive action with the club with a blistering series of runs in the U14 60m sprint which culminated in a brilliant silver medal in the final. It was a good day also for Aoife Walsh who put in a powerful series of jumps to take gold in the high jump with Ciana Reidy 3rd and Lorraine Delaney 4th. Having won the Galway title in her competitive debut at the Galway Indoors in February, it didn’t work out for Lorraine at the Connacht but there will be plenty of other opportunities for this super athlete to make her mark at National level in high jump in the months and years to come. Aoife Walsh had further success with bronze in the long jump and while I need to confirm this when the results come out, it looked to me like Laura Cunningham was very close to the same mark, possibly taking 4th place out of the 36 competitors.

 

We fielded 2 good relay teams and while I don’t have the results, I’d say we came 4th and 5th. The 2nd heat proved particularly exciting where Shauna Tobin anchored the team to 2nd place in the heat. Being closed down the whole way by a Westport athlete, Shauna rallied as she was caught on the final bend to hold off the Westport athlete by a half a metre down the home straight to a crescendo of noise from the crowd. Caolin Milton had a fine throw well into the 7 metres in the shot putt to place in the top 4 or 5. Caolin won her heat in the hurdles comfortably but as noted earlier had the misfortune of falling at the last hurdle in the final. Thankfully Caolin was not badly hurt and it seemed to just a bad graze to both knees. Fiona Commins put in a Trojan effort in the 800m to place 5th or 6th in her heat.

The star of the U13 girls was Siona Lawless who had a powerful series of runs to make the sprint final and finish in 4th place. Siona erased any disappointment of not getting a sprint medal from her memory with an exceptional performance in the long jump to take the Connacht title with a 4.01m leap. Alison Leahy made it a 1-2 for the club when taking the silver with 3.70m. Both girls combined with Tara Slattery and Roisin Hansbury to take bronze in the 4x100m relay. Tara added a further medal in the high jump, claiming the silver with Claire Broderick jumping well to take bronze. Eabha Leech and Alison Leahy both made it to the semi-finals of the sprints, while both hadn’t a great experience in the hurdles with Alison not getting the start she hoped in the heats and Eabha falling at a few of the hurdles as noted earlier. Huge credit to Eabha for continuing to finish out the hurdles to the warm applause of the crowd. Tara Slattery and Siona Lawless made it to the final of the hurdles.

The U12 girls were perhaps the unluckiest group from the club in action at the Connachts. With huge numbers taking part in the U12 girls (over 80 in some of their events), it was always going to be difficult to medal here. But the 600m races saw some brilliant running from the girls with Ailbhe Miskella, Jennifer Hughes and Niamh Niland all winning their heats. Unfortunately when the times from the heats were crunched together, the other heats were faster and the medal winners came from there. It’s a very unfair system as I am sure if the girls had someone to push them harder in their heats, they’d have had a better time. Perhaps some sort of graded entry in future events could be introduced to try and have the faster girls in the same heat. Niamh Niland put in a blistering performance in the 60m sprint, finishing 4th out of over 80 athletes while Sarah McCartin produced a big throw out of nowhere to win the shot putt – a fine performance for someone who’s more well known for her cross country running and for her soccer skills.

The girls were unlucky again in their high jump where we have some exceptional jumpers led by Eva Kelly and Lenagh Gilligan who were comfortably clearing 1.20m in training – but the different surface in Athlone together with the big occasion combined to make it difficult for the girls and they didn’t jump as well as normal. Lenagh had the best jumps on the day with a 1.15m which earned her a joint bronze medal. There’s plenty of time for the girls to improve in the months and years ahead and this was the first time jumping on tartan for some and only the second time for others. We don't have the full results of the long jump yet – preliminary results show Lenagh came 4th with a 3.39m leap.

 

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U13 Girls 4x100m Relay Team with coach Mags Treacy

In the boys events, Paul Joyce and Neil Greaney both impressed in the U19 800m and 1500m where Paul took the victory on this occasion with Neil second in both races. Nicholas stole the limelight in the U18 age group with a blistering 400m as mentioned earlier and followed it up with victory in the 800m and a club record breaking performance in the 200m just 30 or 40 minutes after the 800m. It was a remarkable series of performances by Nicholas and one wonders what he might do in the 200m if he hadn’t ran a 400m and 800m in the hours beforehand. Nicholas now holds the club record in all 3 of these events – so it’s difficult to figure out which is his best one. His racing distances currently range from 200m track to 7000m cross country – a highly unusual range of talent at this level. John Cormican also put in a very strong 400m, racing around the 2 laps in 55 seconds and added a bronze in the 800m with Keelan Ryan placed 5th. Christopher O’Connor made his 2013 debut on the track with an excellent performance to take silver in the 1500m race walk in a new PB of 7.19.5. Diarmuid Prendergast took gold in the shot putt with an exceptional throw of 11.42m.

 

Conor Gillen had an ‘easy’ weekend, getting up before dawn on Saturday to travel to Dublin for the early flight to Glasgow where he raced to a new PB in the 1500m heats (4.19.38 according to the results but Mark had timed it at 4.10). Conor followed this up an hour later with a 4th place finish in the final before dashing off to get the flight back to Dublin and the drive back down to Galway. Disgracefully opting out of the early Sunday morning offer of a lift to Athlone at 8.30am in order to get some sleep, Conor arrived over in the nick of time for the 1500m where he raced to yet another PB of 4:16 on the fast boards of the new track to win the U18 1500m.

The only blip on an outstanding performance here for Conor was that club-mate and training partner Damien O’Boyle happened to be in the same 1500m race as the U17s were on at the same time and happened to run a slightly faster 4:16. I need to wait for the official results but Damien may have just done enough to have set a new club senior record for the 1500m with the existing record standing at 4.17.41, set by Peadar Harvey as an U18. Still, if Conor can avoid travelling for 24 hours on the day before the All-Ireland finals in 3 weeks time, he has every chance of smashing this record on 23rd March as have a number of our elite middle distance stars.

Conor Duggan had to keep his involvement in the U17 events to a minimum due to illness, but managed to take a bronze in his only event of the day, the 60m hurdles. Damien O’Boyle added a further Connacht title to his collection with gold in the 800m and for good measure jumped a fine 1.60m to take bronze in the high jump. In the U16 boys, Oisin Doyle had a fine run to take the silver medal in the 1500m while Matthew McKiernan claimed his first Connacht title with a PB of 4.87m in the long jump, with Jordan Connaughton in 3rd place. Jordan and Matthew combined with Eddie Madden and Sam McArdle to take the bronze in the 4x200m. Eddie had a good series of runs in the 60m to make it to the final.

In the U15 boys events, Gearóid Treacy took bronze in the 1000m race walk and combined with Brian Loughnane, James Cahalane and Matthew Barrett to take silver in the 4x200m. Sam McArdle had a strong performance to take silver in the shot putt and bronze in the high jump. In the 800m, Craughwell had a strong trio in action in Matthew Barrett, James Cahalane and Liam Moran but unfortunately we were caught by the curse of ‘deciding the winners based on heat times’ and the lads were not in the fastest heat. Matthew won his heat but placed 5th overall.

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Connacht Champions 2013 - U12 Boys 4x100m Relay Team

The U14 boys continued their dominance of their age group which they have enjoyed the last few years. Incredibly 7 different athletes from the club took individual medals in this age group. A welcome addition to the squad since last year, Oisin Lyons had a fantastic run in the 800m to take the gold medal. Knowing that it was all on times, Oisin pretty much sprinted the first 500m to race into a 20m lead but then hit the mythical lactic wall and slowed with the GCH athlete in second place pulling onto his shoulder as the bell sounded for the last lap. Digging deep into his reserves, Oisin hung onto the harrier and as they rounded the final bend, Oisin found a fuel reserve somewhere to power past him on the home straight to take the victory in an impressive time of 2.23 approximately.

Daniel Callanan-Forde and Cian Waters had fantastic 1-2 in the 60m sprint final, the first time I can remember us taking the top 2 spots in a Connacht sprint. Gavin Forde made his debut on the track in the relay with a good performance and followed this up with a good sprint and good long jumps but struggled with his mark. We had 2 strong teams in the relays, with the strongest team split to give both a chance. The team of Cian Waters, Sean Delaney, Micheál McFadden and Daniel Callanan-Forde raced to victory in their heat and took overall silver. I suspect our second team came 4th but have to confirm this – the team was Jerry Keary, Peter Martin, Gavin Forde and Oisin Lyons.

 

In the high jump, the boys took a clean sweep with Jerry taking gold, Sean silver and Peter bronze. It was a pressure event for Sean as he was under pressure to get out of Athlone and rush back to Galway for a Credit Union quiz. Luckily the high jumps were reordered on the program as otherwise Sean would have had to miss it. Sean leapt an impressive 1.45m but Jerry leapt an even more impressive 1.50m, while Peter cleared 1.35m. All 3 athletes have serious talent for jumping. Jerry and Peter underlined this further when they went on to place 3rd and 4th in the long jump with jumps of 4.04 and 4.03.

Daniel pipped both for the victory with a jump of 4.27m. It was an impressive performance with 3 of the top 4 out of around 30 competitors. Daniel continued his good day with silver in the hurdles where Jerry placed 4th or 5th. Cian Waters would have been in the hunt for medals here also were it not for injuring his hamstring as he slowed at the end of his fine performance in the 60m sprint. But it was possibly his finest day in a Connacht championships as he had earlier the shot putt with a 10+ metres throw, with Mark O’Brien second in 9.64m.

 

In the U13 boys, Michael Hand had a fine performance with double victory in the high jump and shot putt while Micheál McFadden took silver in the long jump with 3.69m. Patrick Noonan had the misfortune of a heavy fall in the U13 600m. Three athletes fell in front of him and as he moved to the right to round them, one of them stuck out a leg in an attempt to get back up and in the process floored poor Patrick. Patrick to his credit got back on his feet and completed the race but the fall had knocked the stuffing out of him and done away with any chance of a medal. Patrick combined with brother Sean, Michael Hand and Conor Hughes in the 4x100m relay. Conor Hughes had a good run in the hurdles but finished outside the medals, while Micheál McFadden made it to the sprint semi-finals.

 

Ryan Gallagher claimed gold in the U12 high jump with Alex Evans 3rd and Garvin Surlis 4th. Alex had a fine performance in the sprints to make it through the heats and semifinal and place 4th in the final and also took bronze in the long jump. Finbar McFadden continued the success for the boys with a 1.53.06 to take the silver medal in the 600m. Finbar combined with Alex, Ryan and Sean Cannon to lead Craughwell to gold in the relay in a very good time of 59.56 - an incredible 4.5 seconds faster than the time the same quartet ran in the Galways. Cian Garman was sub for the relay on this occasion and the Galway high jump champion was disappointed with his high jump today as he finished outside the medals there. But as with some of the other athletes who didn’t do as well in high jump as they hoped, there is plenty of time in the coming months to get back on top.

Note, provisional results of top 4 in each event are at:-     Track      Field       Relays

I will update the Championships Best Performances later.

Thursday the 24th. .