The inaugural Connacht Athletics Awards were announced yesterday, and Craughwell AC’s superb year was reflected with four prestigious “gongs”, including the coveted inaugural Best Athletics Club. Awards are inherently very un-athletics-like in that they are fundamentally subjective and arbitrary but the general consensus is that the winners were well deserved in all categories and the process was open and transparent.
Best Athletic Club 2021: Craughwell AC (Joint)
We were really delighted to receive the award as Connacht’s best athletic club, along with Moy Valley AC.
2021 has really been an exceptional year for the club, both competitively and in terms of facility progress and the positivity and energy in the entire club has been electric.
Competition has never been stronger in Galway and Connacht as Athletics continues to boom. Once the largest club by membership in the country, Craughwell AC is currently about the 4th or 5th largest club in Galway at last count, despite holding good membership numbers. This shows the growth in the sport about the county and province. The rising tide is lifting all boats and the increased competition at Galway and Connacht level is leading to greater success at nationals.
Despite the extra competition, Craughwell AC managed to top the National medal tables for Connacht in all competitions in 2021 which is just unbelievable for a rural hurling-mad village of 750 people where most members come from a small radius – we are definitely punching miles above our weight.
Medals are definitely not the be-all and end-all and rightly should not be the criteria to choose an award such as this – often national success is well outside your control and of course medal tables will mostly just reflect the larger population areas.
The trojan effort put into facilities this year was an equally important factor in the decision of Connacht Athletics. Inspired by Shauna (see below), and her massive 42Challenge fundraising campaign we drove ahead with borrowing the money to get started on the track development which has already proved revolutionary to our athletes this year and other clubs in the area. Hopefully with the support of the government we can put the rubber layer on next year to complete a fantastic outdoor facility for the region. In addition, our work in hosting events and workshops was mentioned as another factor in our selection.
Craughwell AC share the privilege with Moy Valley AC. The Ballina-town club has grown massively over the last 5 years into a powerhouse of Connacht athletics, particularly at middle-distance and cross country which its training grounds in Belleek are so incredibly well suited to. Moy Valley richly deserve the award, having hosted many exemplary events such as the Connacht Cross Country at a time when it is extremely difficult and even risky to do so, and their efforts are much appreciated by all in Connacht Athletics. We have huge respect and admiration for what Moy Valley have achieved and it’s great to share the podium with them!! Well done to Moy Valley!!
It should be said that “Best Club” is a bit of a “Golden Cleric” award, in that it is a very subjective thing. Though it’s a great honour to receive it and get recognition from Connacht Athletics that we are doing good things, every club in Connacht deserves an award for building up our wonderful sport throughout the province!
Best Jumper for Christmas: Evan Hallinan
What more can be said about Evan’s exploits this year? Evan fought off stiff competition to win the prestigious award. Evan has had the unique distinction this year of winning National medals in all of the Jumping disciplines – Long Jump, High Jump and Triple Jump. He has represented Ireland and better yet won medals in international competitions. He has set numerous Junior and Senior jumping records for the club.
To top it off, Evan and Jade Moorhead (also an award nominee) volunteered to take on the Craughwell AC Calendar fundraising campaign this year so he is giving back to the club in a huge way. Well done to Evan, a talented athlete and a credit to the club, his family and community!
Athletics Inspiration Award: Shauna Bocquet
This award picked itself! Shauna Bocquet won the Athletics Inspiration award and there couldn’t have been a more worthy recipient. After decades of fundraising to purchase the land and develop the sprint lanes, the club and committee were frankly burnt out and done with it for the last couple of years. We had put our heads down and were just focused on the coaching and athletics – we couldn’t stomach selling another line!
Shauna’s unique need for a track and her incredible drive and ambition to set up the 42Challenge and complete numerous challenges herself including her first marathon was the very definition of the word inspirational. Her campaign raised an exceptional €47,000 towards the track fund and gave us enough leverage to borrow the money to develop the tarmac underlayer we have today.
Shauna not only inspired us, she also inspired politicians to cycle hundreds of kilometers overnight in a storm, gym owners to do unending pullups, rowing challenges, walking challenges, sleep deprivation challenges, mileage challenges, time-trial races and hundreds of others to get involved in a shining light to end a bleak-2020 – definitely put the FUN into FUNdraising!.
And what an inspirational athlete! Each night when we go to the track that Shauna helped to build, you will see her working hard hour after hour under the watchful eye of her coach-Dad Loic as she calls a cheerful welcome to whomever turns up.
All the kids, coaches and athletes can really see and be inspired by the dedication and commitment it takes to be truly elite at sport and Shauna has it in spades. I feel that her inspiration is and will continue to be a huge part of any success that Craughwell AC has now and in the future. We are so, so proud of Shauna and everyone in Galway is delighted to see her receive this award.
Best Photographer: John S.O’Connor
John is a member of the club and is a Craughwell man through and through and a vital part of our club since its foundation. The award was initially a photographer of the year award, but as John was the clear winner and will likely hold that crown for life, they have named the photograph of the year award for John which is a lovely touch. Well done to John, a great athletics man, a fine athlete and an excellent photographer who gives tirelessly. Ironically, I tried to find a picture of John himself but it is not easy!!! The man stays the right side of the camera!