Our near neighbours Athenry AC are in the shortlist for the AAI club of the year award the winner of which will be announced tomorrow night. The very best of luck to them in this, the award would be deserved.
Obviously being from Craughwell there's little more enjoyable than beating our big-town neighbors in team competitions :-) However putting aside any friendly local rivalries, there's really no doubt that members of Athenry AC have helped transform Senior running in Galway over the past 6 or 7 years. About 7 years ago they had the highest percentage of nerds in their membership of any club in the country. For this reason they were thus one of the first clubs to jump on the internet bandwagon and for years their event list was the first place to go to see what's coming up. This has only recently been superseeded by another Athenry AC member organised website RunIreland as the place to find what's coming up.
I also remember that when we'd go to a road race we would look around and be relieved if we saw an Athenry AC member as it meant that the results of the race would be shortly available on the internet - even if they weren't involved in organising it their facts and figures geeks like James would badger the organisers for results to put up. You also knew that there was a good chance that one of the Athenry members would stick up a Race Report to outline their side of the story.
Other clubs followed suit eventually, but Athenry's website is still one of the best and also a good historical record of the last decade of Senior running in the West of Ireland.
Those same active members are also found behind the scenes or stationed at finish lines at road and cross country races all around Ireland and have been a great help to many clubs when organising events (including our own road race last year), and central to the organisation of events like the Galway 5K series.
Competitively Athenry have had some great stories - mainly through the Paul's MacNamara and Hession, but also from Clare McNamara and the men's team who medalled in the national half a few years ago. In recent times their ladies team has been particularly strong and they definitely have the strongest female squad in the county I'd say.
Obviously the main thing that Athenry AC would be known for is its own "Fields of Athenry" 10k Road Race which has grown exponentially from it's inception. All over ireland the trademark wooly hats can be spotted on dog-walkers, road diggers and taxi drivers alike. As it approaches December, it could be time to book your 2010 hat and sign up for this years race.
Best of Luck guys tomorrow night - hopefully you get some recognition for the part you've played in the West of Ireland "noughties" running boom.