Agony and Ecstasy of Sprint Relays at the Connacht Juvenile Track & Field

Agony and Ecstasy of Sprint Relays at the Connacht Juvenile Track & Field

It was another fantastic day for Craughwell AC at the Connacht Indoor Track & Field in Nenagh. While I don’t have the full details of the performances, I am setting out as much as possible here and will update the website with other information as and when it comes to hand.

Craughwell AC had a huge number of athletes taking part in the Connacht’s this year, with 80 athletes in action – this is an increase of 18 on last year’s competition and is the most obvious sign of the success that the club is having in holding athletes interest as they enter their teens and secondary school. Our success in participation rates was matched by the size of the entry bill – with us winning the silver medal behind GCH for having the 2nd largest bill of just over €700!  

The club’s athletes excelled in all of their events, taking home a massive haul of 18 Connacht titles, along with 20 silver medals and 16 bronze medals. This was achieved despite the club’s top juvenile athlete Cathriona Farrell being away on warm-weather training with Athletics Ireland Youth Squad in Portugal.  

As usual, the relays threw up loads of excitement, agony and ecstasy. The U12 girl’s team of Ashling Connelly, Sineád Treacy, Ellen Fitzpatrick and Dandy Murray were terribly unlucky to miss out on a bronze medal by the tiniest margin of 0.06 seconds. The final baton changeover proved our downfall as we had to avoid other runners in the changeover zone which almost certainly cost us many multiples of 0.06 seconds. But not to worry, the outdoor season has still to come.

The U12 boy’s relay added to the agony – with a dropped baton putting this fine relay team out of the medals. This happens to the best of teams, including the USA’s sprint relay team on one occasion in a World Championships final. And it our case, this team certainly deserves to be included in “the best of teams” as they had medalled in last year’s National Outdoors and were really looking forward to the National Indoors. It wasn’t to be however and the team of Conor Duggan, Jamie Spellman, Gavin O’Toole and Aidan Conneely will have to hold their fire until the National Outdoors also. 

The U14 relays provided some sweet redemption. The girl’s team of Anna Lane, Maria McNamara, Orla McDaid, Claire Ryder and Sineád Gaffney took what is possibly their first Connacht relay title ahead of the joint pre-race favourites Swinford and Athenry. The girls were drawn in the same heat as Swinford, who have regularly won National medals in this age group in the All-Irelands. This favoured our team as it was the faster heat and we just about managed to stay ahead of Swinford on each changeover to finish 0.22s ahead. 

The U14 boys relay team showed their mettle by taking the Connacht title fractionally ahead of GCH in a very good time. It was a super achievement for the boys (Peter Treacy, PJ Kelly, Brendan Gallagher, Jack Raftery), particularly since there has not been one training session since last July where the 4 boys on this team have all been at the same training session – due to the large amount of other sport they are involved in. But they have the talent and have the belief, and time after time pull out all the stops to succeed in the relays. 

The U16 boys relay team of Ruairi Finnegan, Niall Rooney, Shaun Gallagher and Tomás Keehan captured the silver medal in their 4x200m in a time that came so close to setting the club record for this event. The boys recorded a time of 1.49.61.  The club record of 1.49.4 was set in the National finals in Nenagh in 2000 by a team which is rumoured to have included Galway senior hurler Niall Healy. 

The uneven age relays held later in the day also provided plenty of excitement. Here the stars were the U13 girl’s 4x100m team who won the Connacht title in an excellent time (Niamh Hannify, Claire Ryder, Ella Bryan, Ailbhe Greaney, Sarah Molloy, Kelly Harte). Not to be outdone, the U13 boys took the bronze medals in their 4x100m with their team of Oisin McNally, Conor Duggan, Nicholas Sheehan and Aidan Conneely.  

The two U15 teams added further medals to their collections with both taking home the bronze medals in their 4x200m relays. The girls were Orla Ryan, Katie O’Donoghue, Linda Porter and Debi Kenny and the boys team were Cormac Dillon, David Farrell, Jack Raftery, Paul McGill. 

Further article to follow on the individual events …

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