It was the year 2003 when Craughwell AC first fielded a senior team in an Athletics Ireland event – the dark ages as it felt then when the ‘elite’ team of Emmett Farrell, Clement Haverty, Michael Tobin and Seamus Creaven took the first 4 places in the Galway Intermediate Cross Country to win the County title with an unbeatable score of 10 points – unbeatable because its mathematically impossible to get a lower score in cross country but also because there was no one else in the race!

 

 A short 7 years later, the club made a large piece of history when it fielded a men’s team for the first time in the National Track & Field league – the ambition of many an athletic club throughout the country. While they might not realise it now, the team members names will be etched forever in the club history – with the children of 2510 looking back at old newspaper reports saying “Grandpa, do you think that fella Davis who was DQ’ed from the walk in 2010 was related to us?”.

Led by team managers Peter O’Sullivan and Diarmuid Quill, the men that made history were a nice blend of experience and youth from both the senior and juvenile sections of the club -

Brian Magee, Eamonn Waters, Gerry Ryan, Johnny Lane, Mark Davis, Niall Higgins, Jason Broderick, Niall Rooney, 
Peter O’Sullivan, Thomas Keehan, Tom Niland, Tony Nevin and William Finnegan with Gar Crossan guesting for us on day 2.

The National League is structured in two divisions – Premier and Division 1 and comprises 2 days of competition where the each team scores points in each event, followed by a final of the top-most 8 teams. The team competes in the full range of track and field events and scores points depending on finishing positions. It’s of vital importance to contest as many events as possible – so quite often our seniors had to take part in less familiar events.

Day 1 of the league took place in Tullamore on 13 June while day 2 took place in Athlone on 18 July.  In their first time out, the team put in a huge performance to finish in 9th place in Division 1 with a combined total from the two days of 164 points, only 11 points away from 8th and a place in the final. This was an incredible performance particularly considering that many of the events were very new to a lot of our team, most of whom are coming from a road running background – but that may change now that they have savoured the taste of competing in track and field.

Full results of both days are on the AAI website at:-
-        http://www.athleticsireland.ie/content/wp-content/uploads/2006/05/complete-individual-results-round-1-2010.pdf
-         http://www.athleticsireland.ie/content/wp-content/uploads/2006/05/individual-results-athlone-and-santry2010-2.pdf

There were many highlights across the range of events but in particular the following:-

Throwers

We didn’t have any at the start of the summer but now we have five! Eamonn Waters made a return to the sport of his youth, competing in several of the throwing events over the 2 days and scoring PBs and club records in almost all of them – 9.72m shot putt on day 1 and 10.67m on day 2, 21.24m discus on day 1 and 25.70m on day 2, and guesting in the hammer on day 2 with 22.10m. Eamonn had regained his fitness and his love of the sport so it’s onwards and upwards for him from here on!

Brian McGee was starting to enjoy throwing his weight around in Tullamore and Athlone – journeying into the unknown when he agreed to take part in the 56lb Weight for Distance, throwing it 3.62m on day 1 and 3.37m on day 2. Brian also threw the hammer on both days – slinging it 15.09m on day 1 and 18.13m on day 2.

U18 star sprinter Niall Higgins fired the javelin 17.60m on day 1m while Tony Nevin fired it a huge 31.31m on day 2. 

Jumpers

The club are well equipped in the jumps with Niall Rooney, Thomas Keehan and William Finnegan all participating at a high level. Thomas took 2nd and 3rd place on the 2 days with a jump of 1.70m each day, with Niall guesting 1.65m on day 2. Niall leaped 11.77m on day 2 in the triple jump with William sailing out to 12.15m on day 1. William added valuable points with 5.97m in the long jump on day 1 and 5.85m on day 2, finishing 3rd on each occasion.

Sprinters

Niall Higgins flew the flag in the 100m and 200m on day 1, sprinting very respectable times of 12.55 and 26.12. Tomas Keehan hit 12.47m for the 100m on day 2. William Finnegan hit good times in the hurdles with 19.14 in the 110m hurdles on day 1 followed by 18.70 on day 2, and 67.64 in the 400m hurdles on day 2. Johnny Lane rose to the challenge on day 1 to represent the club in the 400m hurdles – unknown territory for Johnny, who recorded a fine time of 71.00 on his first time attempting this event. Johnny followed this up with a 62.88 in the 400m flat.

Distance/Endurance

Mark Davis competed in his first ever 3k Walk. Despite great attention to technique, Mark was DQ’ed during the race but fair play to him for tacking an event he has never done before. Mark found it much tougher than the 1500m which he contested shortly afterwards in a time of 4:28.43. Peter took over the mantle for the 1500m on day 2, recording a time of 4.21.02. As team managers, Peter’s plan was for fellow manager Diarmuid Quill to attack the race walk on day 2 – thinking that the officials would never DQ DQ. But DQ was unable to take part – perhaps worried that he wouldn’t get the wiggle out of his hips in time for his assault on a sub-40 in the Claregalway 10k!

Peter made his debut in the 3000m steeplechase on day 1m where he led a strong field for three laps and despite fading slightly towards the end still finished with a very creditable 10:40.61. On day 2, he followed this up with a further 5 second improvement recording 10.35.66.

Tom Niland ran a fine 800m, recording 61 seconds for his first lap and held on bravely at the finish for 2.17.96, Tony Nevin followed this up with a super PB of 2.17.73 on day 2. The most eagerly anticipated event of  day 1 sadly didn't work out too well as Gerry Ryan had to drop out of the 5k with a couple of laps to go due to a pulled hamstring.  He was in the leading group at the time.  On day 2m Jason Broderick flew the flag for the club with a fine 16.22.56 for the 5k distance.

Relays 

The young guns Niall Higgins, Thomas Keehan and Niall Rooney combined with William Finnegan to run 48.33 in the 4x100m – a new club record. On day 2, they amazingly came within one-hundredth on a second of this time – resetting the record at 48.32.

The older guns defied aching legs at the end of day 1 to set a club record of 3:59.33 for the 4x400m with the quartet of Mark, William, Tom Niland and Peter.

Special mention to William Finnegan who followed up his League appearances with victory in the National Senior Men’s Decathlon, getting a new PB in the pole vault in the process – evidence that he is already preparing for that event for next year’s League!

So that wraps up a highly successful debut year for the club in its first time in the National League. Well done to all and in particular to team managers Peter and Diarmuid and we’re looking forward already to next year’s League. And well done also to Maeve Curley, Rachel Finnegan and Sarah Finnegan who were part of the County Galway team in the Senior Women’s Division 1. At the time of writing, that team has qualified for the League final.

A short word from Peter to wrap up the league debut. "Thanks to all of you that participated and supported in the various Track & field events over the past few months in Ennis, Galway, Tullamore and Athlone. It has been very memorable journey for me and I hope that the other team members discovered as much as I did during this exciting adventure into T&F land. That nearly concludes another chapter in my short existence in a vibrant club where anything is possible.  The T & F story isn’t quite over for the year yet as 7 of the old dogs from the men’s senior team are preparing to do battle on the track one last time this year in the National Masters T & F Chapionships in Tullamore on the 15th August. "

 

Friday the 22nd. .