Year 3 for our under 11s finished as it has done each year - a sense of tremendous achievement, enormous potential and no shortage of drama.

While we left Donegal last year without medals, we knew we had areas where we could compete for medals in 2014 . And compete we did.

Another year, more drama and ultimately more success than disappointment when we look back on the Connachts in Sligo for u11s in 2014.

The day kicked off with a measure of the latter, when the u11 Girls Relay team (Alex Slamas, Rebecca Lynch, Rebekah Flynn, Emily Miskella sub Caoimhe Connolly) failed to qualify for the All-Irelands for the first time. This was a disappointment for a team that had won the County title in such style, but the margins get smaller for error the older the age-group, and the team members compensated later in the day with some outstanding performances (see below). Our B team (Caoimhe Connolly, Hannah Hynes, Oliwia Komav, Holly Comer) were missing two key members, but battled well in the other heat, holding their own with Connacht's finest.

 

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With 50 entered competitors, Craughwell A.C.'s u11s group were the county's largest club group in any age-group last Saturday. Of those 50, more than half were from schools outside Craughwell N.S. and it is the parents of many of some of these new children who have directly contributed to our under 11s sweeping the (medal) board in Javelin and Long Jump through their input at thursday training. We wish to thank in particular John McDonagh, Noel Keane and Kevin Quirke in this regard. 4 of our throwers threw 16m or more, while 8 boys plus 3 girls threw 10m or more. While it remains to be seen if we can medal in Tullamore on June 21st, these men have laid a wonderful foundation and learning environment for throwing events that most clubs could only dream of. And on Saturday, the fruits of their year-long sessions were evident for all to see (see below). Suzanne Egan and Aisling Connolly are two additional coaches whose invaluable volunteerism was evident, as our long jumpers claimed 5 of the 6 paired medals, with Mark Egan leaping more than 3m yet again and Caoimhe Connolly heading home with a Gold (Relay) and Silver (Long Jump). There were the usual 3-medal star turns for Emily Miskella (2 Golds and 1 silver), Rebekah Flynn (1 Gold and 2 silvers) and Liam Mulveen (2 silvers, 1 Bronze) - but also a few athletes with near misses in the past who have started to shine, notably Rebecca Lynch (3 Golds), Alex Slamas (Gold, Silver and 6th), Lukas Schukat (Gold, Silver and 0.02 from a bronze!), Robert Urquhart (Gold and Silver) and Niall Cummins (Silver and Bronze). Kieran O'Connor (Gold and Silver) will be sorely missed in Sligo, but showed real class in both Long Jump (3.44) and Relay. Adam Stewart deserved his medal at 600m and was 5th in Javelin. Conor Hoade underlined his credentials with a phenomenal 2nd leg in the relay, the 3rd fastest 60m of the day and 5th in the 600m.

 

Our Under 10s have been experiencing the joys of fair-weather cross-country via the schools competitions to date - and with much success.  However, today in Loughrea, it was more like the wet weather and damp under-foot conditions one comes to expect.  There has been much more focus this year on endurance and middle-distances in training this term and the end-result was a series of great performaces from all our under 10 competitors.

First up, the girls race saw a top-class field assembled - possibly the best long ditance field yet at this age-group.  There were All-Ireland track medallists at sprints and 500m from GCH and Ballinasloe and some outstanding individuals from Athenry and further afield.  However, it was the all-conquering Rebekah Flynn / Emily Miskella double act who once again came out on top, finishing 1st and 2nd respectively.   It is becoming a joy to witness these fine athletes time their breaks so perfectly.  Rebekah sat once again, just behind the fast-starting Mitchell sisters from Ballinasloe, then pulled clear in the second half.  Emily's second half was equally as stunning, to strongly fend off GCH's Emma Moore - one of the country's top distance runners - in the final metres.  Clearly, they have many great days ahead of them this year in middle distance as their speed and stamina seems to improve visibly by the week.

Friday the 23rd. .