A large number of athletes from the club made the 2-hour journey northwards last weekend to take part in the Connacht Primary Schools Cross Country Championships which were held in Hazelwood Community Pitch in Calry, Sligo. After an incredibly wet Friday, the weather was bright and sunny all day Sligo – lovely racing conditions except that the course was quite wet and mucky from the previous day’s rain.
The 800m course for the girls and boys in 3rd/4th class was a very testing course for this age group. The race started at the foot of a 100m hill which also formed the last 100m of the race as it the loop was approximately 700m. So the young athletes had a tough start to the race and an even tougher finish as tired limbs struggled to sprint up the hill into the finishing chute.
The race-walking event commenced at 1pm followed by the cross country at 1.30pm. The 3rd/4th class girls were the first cross country race. Craughwell NS had a strong team taking part, having won the Galway Championships with a low score – Grainne McDaid, Leanne Freaney, Emma Gaffney, Aisling Keady, Michelle Duggan and Sinead Walsh formed the team. As the race kicked off, Grainne and Leanne got into strong positions, with Grainne in the top 6 and Leanne slightly further behind in the top 15. Emma unfortunately had a fall at the start but picked herself up and quickly got back into the race. As the race progressed, Grainne moved up into 4th place amidst some very strong runners – a place that she held to the line.
She was followed in by Leanne in 12th place, with Emma next in 32nd (a great run after a bad fall!) and Michelle next in 48th, neck and neck with Aisling in about 49th. Sinead completed a great team performance when finishing 60th – a great run considering Sinead is new to cross country. It was a strong team performance and good enough to feature in the medals we hoped. Later after all the races finished, we moved from the course to the changing rooms area where the results were been compiled, and lo and behold the results of this race were on display – with Craughwell NS in first place with 96 points! A fantastic result! Cornafulla (Leitrim?) were in 2nd place with 100 points and Claregalway were in 3rd place with 112 points.
The 4th class boys race was next up where Oranmore Boys NS had a strong team, including 2 members of the club Nathan Lynskey and Christopher Mooney. Their team also featured Eoin Rockall, brother of former international athlete and current international basketball player Claire Rockall. Liam Forde (Ballyglass NS) and Oisin Woodlock (Ballymana NS) were also running as individuals in this race. From the whistle, Liam went into a strong position in the leading group, taking 4th place up as the race wound its way up the long hill and around to enter its downhill part. Holding that position until the last bend, the difficult uphill commenced again and Liam dug deep to pass the athlete in 4th place and hold on to claim the individual bronze medal – superb running from Liam. Oisin also had a great race taking 30th place. Oranmore Boys NS put in a fantastic team performance to take the gold medals with an exceptionally low score of 56 points, with Christopher 12th and Nathan 51st.
Next race was the 5th/6th class 1000m race, where Craughwell NS again had a strong team running having finished 2nd in Galway. The race was around the same loop at the younger race, just starting earlier on the loop with a long downhill before the difficult uphill at the start of the 800m race. Sarah Molloy got into a good position in the top 20 right from the start as they raced down the hill, with the rest of the team battling hard further back. As the race wound its way around its 2nd loop, things didn’t look good as the team were back in the 40’s places besides Sarah. But an incredibly strong finish over the last 100m saw Sarah take 14th place, Gabrielle Tobin take 22nd place, Maeve O’Connor take 30th place and Ellen Fitzpatrick take 46th place, with the team finishers completed by Andrea Tobin and Shauna Burke a little further back in 58th and 61st place. A score of 112 was good enough to take bronze medals – a fantastic result for the girls. An exceptional performance from Ellen Treacy (Ballymana NS) saw her take an individual medal finishing in 16th place.
Last race of the day saw strong teams from Craughwell NS and Oranmore Boys NS and Conor Gillen (Gaelscoil de hIde) in action. Craughwell’s team of Matthew Freaney, Keelan Ryan, Korvah Dorbar, Oisin Coppinger, James Tansey and Patrick Phillips had just pipped Oranmore’s team in the Galway finals – so the friendly rivalry between the 2 teams (and mentors!) was a bit of fun today. The Oranmore team features 3 club members Nicholas Sheehan, Aidan Conneely and Jamie Spellman. In a very high quality field which featured 2 National Outdoor 600m champions from Sligo (William Crowe and Cian McBride) and a National Indoor 600m bronze medal winner from Ballinasloe (Conor Payne), Conor Gillen got off to a strong start and placed himself right up in the leading bunch from the whistle, holding 2nd place behind a Mayo athlete. As the race progressed, he held onto this place but found it hard to close on the leader. Up the last 100, the gap seemed to be closing but in time so Conor won a fantastic silver medal ahead of National 600m Champion Cian McBride in 3rd place.
Nicholas put in a big performance to take 9th place and lead the Oranmore team to the bronze medal position with 100 points, with strong performances also from Aidan (52nd) and Jamie (41st) on the team. Craughwell NS had to settle for 4th place on this occasion with 122 points. The team were led home by Keelan and Matthew in 15th and 16th place (which earned both of them individual medals) and James and Korvah in 45th and 46th followed by Oisin and Patrick in 55th and 69th. A very strong performance nonetheless and unfortunate not to be in the medals.
So all in all, it was incredibly successful day for club members at this highest level of competition in Connacht
– two team titles for members from the club
– two team bronze medals
– one individual silver
– one individual bronze
Probably the club's best ever performance in the primary schools. Well done to everyone!
Full results are available at http://www.galwayathletics.com/dmdocuments/ConnachtPrimarySchoolsCrossCountryResults2008.pdf