A large contingent of over 30 athletes travelling from Craughwell NS to take part in the Galway City Sports on Tues 13th June.
The sports were held at Dangan track and featured 2 athletes from each school taking part in each of the following events:-
In the U13 girls 100m, Debbie Kenny and Katie O'Donoghue both ran well to make the semi-final. Debbie just missed out on qualifying for the final, taking 4th place. Katie had to ease off due to a pain in her ankle. Conor McCann and David Farrell represented the school in the boys 100m, with David progressing as far as the semi-final. In the U11 sprints, Isabel Lane got to the semi-final and Mairead McCann made it into the final, almost taking the silver medal and settling for the bronze to claim the schools first sprint medal in this competition. In the U11 boys sprint, Jack Raftery and Patrick Prendergast competed. Unfortunately for Jack, he slipped near the start of the sprint and didn't progress to the next round - he'd almost certainly have taken the gold medal in the final having beaten the chap who won gold in Sligo on the previous weekend. In the U9 sprints, Ashling Connolly and Emma Byrne both did well to qualify for the semi-finals, with Christoper McDonnell doing the same in the boys event and Eric Callanan competing strongly but didn't make the semi-final.
So 1 medal for the school in the sprints and 1 more than we got in the sprints last year (the first time the school competed in this competition). Onto the distance races where we were confident of a strong performance with some fine runners representing the school. The U13 girls 800m (well more like 840m as it started half-way up the straight) was up first. Ashley McDonnell and Shauna Coppinger were representing the school here and we were confident of a good showing as Ashley had won this race last year. About 40 runners were lined up at the start - terribly congested unfortunately. The race got off and Ashley sprinted off, angling in from the outside to get towards the inside lane. Then disaster, tripped from behind Ashley went down like a ton of bricks in the midst of 40 other runners. She rolled over and curled up in a ball as the other athletes jumped over her , around her and on top of her. Amazingly as the thundering runners passed and the track quietened around Ashley, she rose to her feet and set off on the impossible task of chasing down the 40 runners.
About 5 metres behind the last runner as this point, she sprinted down the outside of the pack, passing athlete after athlete on the first bend and continuing this down the straight stretch until she had moved right up into 2nd place after about 300m. Children and adults alike watched in awe at this breathtaking performance, taking such a nasty fall and overtaking almost everyone in the space of 30 seconds. Ashley settled into 2nd place here and together the 2 leading runners moved clear of the rest, by maybe up to 30 metres. As they got to the final bend, Craughwell watched with bated breath to see if Ashley's trademark kick was there in the home straight. But earlier exertions and the pain of the fall had taken their toll on Ashley as she raced home to take the silver medal. Easily the performance of the day for the school and deserves an extra medal for bravery. After the race, Ashley could not walk with the pain and hours later still had some swelling on her left knee. Shauna Coppinger had a good run in the same race - enthusiastically stepping into this race at the last minute and running well.
It was hard to match Ashley's performance as Sinead Gaffney and Orla McDaid took to the field for the U11 girls 400m (well 440ish metres), but match it they did! From the whistle, Orla sprinted strongly to get into the top 3 going around the first bend. Sinead was further back - possibly around tenth. Thankfully no fallers at this stage. Orla looked strong but started to fade a little with around 200m to go. Sinead was running well at this stage and moved up, overtaking Orla and moving into 2nd place as she came out of the bend. Looking as if she might press for 1st place, they sprinted towards the line. Orla found a second wind and moved up from 7th or 8th. As they neared the line, Sinead was edging closer to the leading athlete and would have taken it in a slightly longer race. Orla was putting in a fantastic finish and burst for the line to take 3rd place with Sinead just ahead to take 2nd place. A super super race for both girls.
The boys U13 800m race featured Padraic Tobin and Eoin O'Connor for Craughwell. Padraic got a strong start, taking 2nd place up to around 300m but found it tough going as they went into the 2nd lap. Fading a little as the lap went on, he hung on for 7th or 8th place - with Eoin finishing strongly to take the next place after Padraic. A good result for both athletes. In the boys U11 400m, Paul Joyce and Cathal Coppinger took to the track for the school. Both ran well. Paul slipped back in the early stages but put in a very strong finish to take 7th or 8th place with Cathal further back.
The final distance races were the U9s 400m. In the girls race, Ellen Fitzpatick and Hannah Rabbitte got a good start. Ellen moved into the top 3 and hung onto that position until around half-way, before starting to fade a little. Passed by a few athletes around here, she hung on to finish in about 6th place. In the U9 boys, Oisin Coppinger and Andrew Greaney competed strongly. Andrew got the better start and was in the top 10 after 100m. Oisin was much further back but ran very well over the rest of the race with a very strong finish to take 5th place overall.
With all the individual events over, the tension built for the final events of the day - the relays. With our U13 girls relay team weakened by the injury to Ashley and with no substitute, top marks to Isabel Lane who was sub for the U11 team and ran on the U13 team so that they could take part. The team line-up was Debbie Kenny, Shauna Coppinger, Katie O'Donoguhe and Isabel. They ran exceptionally well to finish in 4th place by the slenderest of margins, with 2 teams going forward to the final. The U13 boys team of Eoin O'Connor, Padraic Tobin, Ross Haverty and David Farrell (with Liam Dundon as sub) ran well to make the final in 2nd place but with a lot of work to do to finish in the medals. In the final later, the baton passing all went to perfection but sheer sprinting power from the other teams left Craughwell outside the medals in 5th place.
In the U11 girls, we had a super team of Orla McDaid, Maria McNamara, Sinead Gaffney and Mairead McCann. In the heats, they easily won their heat and had the fastest time. Confidence was high going into the final and they didn't disappoint - executing perfect baton changes, sprinting powerfully and winning the final with 3 or 4 metres to spare. The U11 boys had a strong team also and had a top class performance in the heat from the team of Paul Joyce, Conor Lally, Jack Raftery and Cathal Coppinger. Times for heats showed however that other schools had super teams here also, with our time been 4th fastest. For the final, Conor's ankle was a little tight so Patrick Prendergast stepped in as first runner, passing to Paul. The team ran equally well in the final, recording an almost identical time to their heat and finishing in 4th place by only a metre or two.
The U9 relays were last up. The girls team of Ashling Connolly, Emma Byrne, Grainne McDaid and Ellen Fitzpatrick (with Hannah Rabbitte as sub) ran really well to make the final and had a chance of finishing in the medals. A good final performance also and as Ellen raced down the home straight, there was nothing between the teams in 2nd to 5th place. It was difficult to see where we finished, but it looked like 4th by a metre. In the U9 boys, the team were Christopher McDonnell, Andrew Greaney, Cillian McDaid and Eric Callanan, with Eoin Lally as sub. The team ran powerfully and only for another team's runner crossing Andrew's path and forcing him to check, we'd have qualified for the final - finishing 3rd in the heat by a foot.
So overall a great day for the school. One of the organisers remarked to one of the Craughwell teachers about what great athletes the school had - contesting so many individual and team finals so strongly.
The school took 1 relay gold, 2 individual silver and 2 individual bronze - and would have 2 extra golds barring the falls to Ashley and Jack. Last year, we won 1 relay gold and 1 individual gold - major progress in this competition. Of course, its not all about medals. The 30+ athletes from the school all had a good day out, loved missing school for the day and I'm sure will be trying to get back to the same event next year.