Craughwell AC's younger juvenile age groups had a very successful day in Sligo last Saturday (10 June), with the club featuring strongly in both relays and individual events.
With predictions of the demise of the glorious sunshine for the weekend, it was hard to know whether to bring the sun-hats or wooly hats.
The relays were the first event up. With 8 relay races across the 4 age groups, Craughwell excelled with 4 teams taking Connacht titles and 3 teams taking bronze medals. In the girls U9 relays, the club took both gold and bronze medals with the teams being Craughwell A: Hannah Rabbitte, Grainne McDaid, Caoimhe Reidy, Tara McNally, Andrea Tobin; Craughwell B: Orlaith Maloney, Ashling Keady, Ashling Nee, Jean Waters, Emma Gaffney. The U9 boys matched the girls by taking the gold medals with the team of Liam Forde, Oisin Coppinger, Ian Connolly, Eddie Madden, William Corcoran. The U9 B team also had a great race with the team taking 4th place - Jack Reidy, Oisin Woodlock, Matthew Molloy, Liam Moran and Stephen Joyce. The U10 girls continued the success story, taking the bronze medals amidst tough competition with their team of Sinead Tracy, Ashling Connolly, Ellen Fitzpatrick and Dandy Murray.
The U10s boys had a good team out also but were very unfortunate to suffer from a dropped baton in the early stages which put them out of contention. With more experience, the club will have a fine team in this age group as there are some super sprinters here. Disaster also struck the U11 boys teams through no fault of their own. The club had 2 teams taking part and unfortunately both teams were lined up in adjacent zones. Officials at the final changeover zone lined the teams up in the incorrect lanes. Despite the distant protestations of Christopher O'Connor in zone 2, who was possibly the only one present who saw the problem, the officials did not realise their mistake and the race commenced. As the 3rd runners on the Craughwell teams approached the final zone, confusion reigned as the boys didn't know who to pass to and swopped lanes to pass to their own team-mate. The end result was that both teams finished outside the qualifiers for the final - devastating for them after all their hard work in training.
The U11 girls had a fine run in their relay to take the gold medals with a commanding performance from the team of Ailbhe Greaney, Ella Bryan, Sarah Molloy, Claire Ryder and sub Gabrielle Tobin. In the U12 girls, the club were up against very stiff competition and did very well to take bronze medals in the final with their team of Claire Ryder, Siobhan Gardiner, Sinead Gaffney and Mairead McCann. Orla McDaid ran in the heat but picked up an injury to rule her out of the final. In the heats, the U12 B team also ran superly, with Eimear Kelly sprinting hard to hold onto 3rd place but slipping badly 2 metres from the line. Thankfully after some treatment from the First Aid people, Eimear was up and running later in the day wanting to compete in sprints, jumps, throws and whatever else she could. Orla's injury in the heats and an over-zealous amount of Deep Heat spray from the First Aid tent ruled her out of competition for the rest of the day but again thankfully no serious injury.
Onto the final relay where our speedsters and All-Ireland medallists, the U12 boys were taking part. Still smarting from their relay team been split up for the Galways (with the result that they didn't claim Galway gold), the boys were all fired up for the Connachts and aiming to retain their title. Up against tough competition, particularly from North Sligo, the Craughwell team ran superbly to claim the gold with their team of Peter Treacy, Jack Raftery, James Greaney, Brendan Gallagher. PJ Kelly was sub on this occasion.
With the relays out of the way, the individual events got started with the U9s and 10s competing in the combined events competition of sprint, long jump and ball throw. With over 40 athletes in each age group, competition was very stiff in these events and there were some fantastic performances. In the U9s, Eddie Madden and Tara McNally put in super performances to take gold and silver medals in the combined events and qualify for the National finals in Cork. Ian Connolly was close to getting into the top 5 for qualification but narrowly missed out finishing 8th. Likewise Ashling Keady put in a super performance to finish in 6th place, just 1 point away from qualifying for the National finals. In the U10 girls, Ellen Fitzpatrick and Sinead Treacy were close to qualifying, finishing in 8th and 9th place. And in the U10 boys, Niall O'Donnell narrowly missed out on qualifying, finishing in 7th place.
The U12 girls high jump was the highlight of the day for Craughwell, with Caoimhe Quill continuing the family tradition of winning titles by clearing 1.15m to claim gold. Siobhan Gardiner took the silver medal with a jump of 1.10m and Sinead Gaffney took bronze in 1.05m. In the boys event, both Jack Raftery and PJ Kelly found it difficult to get a consistent jumping pattern going but still did enough to qualify for the National finals with Jack taking silver in 1.15m and PJ taking 4th place in 1.10. Jack and PJ also qualified in long jump in 1st and 4th place. Jack had difficulty with his mark and didn't get a jump off his strong foot until his final jump, when he jumped into the lead with a leap of 4.09m. It wasn't PJ's day either as he struggled to repeat form from training, but still produced a good jump of 3.50m to take the 4th qualifying place. Both PJ and Jack joined Brendan Gallagher and Peter Treacy in the final of the U12 boys sprint - an impressive display of sprinting power. In the final, Jack took the bronze medal, very close to the 2nd place. It looked like a dead-heat for 4th place between 4th to 8th position with PJ, Peter and Brendan all in there - but the camera giving 4th place to a GCH athlete in the final analysis.
Over at the long jump, Ailbhe Greaney, Claire Ryder and Ella Bryan were busy going about the business of qualifying for the National finals. All three had suprt performances in Galway. Unfortunately for Ailbhe, officials only allowed 2 jumps each to athletes and Ailbhe broke on both of these. Claire jumped to glory with a massive jump of 3.70m to take the gold medal and Ella followed her with a jump of 3.37m to take the silver - an excellent performance by both girls. Claire also showed her strength in the sprints to take the 4th spot in the final and qualify for the National finals in this event also. Also in fine jumping form in the U12 girls long jump were Mairead McCann, Siobhan Gardiner and Sinead Gaffney. All three had realistic chances of qualifying in the top 4. On the day, things didn't go as well as hoped in this event for Siobhan and Sinead - but for Mairead it went perfectly, recording a PB of 3.74m and taking the bronze medal.
Also qualifying in the long jump, Oisin McNally jumped 3.14 to take 4th place in the U11 boys - a super jump for Oisin who was jumping competitively for the first time on this occasion. Also in the medals, the Tarpey twins Conor and Brian had strong ball throws to take 1st and 3rd places with throws of 34.24m and 30.08m. Final medal of the day for Craughwell was James Greany who threw over 6m to take the bronze medal in the U12 boys shot putt.
Overall a fantastic performance for the club - probably the strongest club on the day in Connacht with 9 golds, 4 silver, 8 bronze and 5 fourth places.