Evan Hallinan receiving the Galway Athlete of the Year (U12-15 Age Group)
from the President of Athletics Ireland Georgina Drumm (Photo credit: John O’Connor)
The Galway Athletics Awards took place last Sunday in the Westwood Hotel in Galway City where Evan Hallinan was the club’s star on this occasion when receiving the Athlete of the Year Award for the U12-15 age group. It was a tremondous honour for Evan as its very difficult to win these awards when pitted against the best Galway athletes spanning 4 age groups.
It was also a memorable evening for Conor Duggan and Sinead Treacy who were each recipients of Training Bursaries of €300 awarded by the Galway County Board for achievements in 2016/17.
Conor Duggan, Sinead Treacy, Damien O’Boyle
U13 Coaches with Evan at the Galway Awards
The club selects its nominees for the Galway Awards from athletes nominated by the coaches in different training groups and all coaches get to vote for who should go forward as nominees to the Galway Awards. The club had many fine nominations to consider and the details are set out below to recognise the achievements of the nominees in 2016.
Nominee for Team of the year: U18 Girls 4x100m Team
It was a very special year for the Craughwell U18 Girls relay team of Michelle Duggan, Caoilin Milton, Aisling Keady, Laura Cunningham, Lorraine Delaney and Aoife Walshe. Having won the Connacht Indoor title in February, the team entered the arena for the National finals in confident mood.
Cruising through the heats in a time of 1.47.20, the team suffered the heartbreak of a 4th place finish losing out on the bronze by the tiny margin of 0.14 seconds in a controversial finish.
It was devastating for the girls to be beaten by such a slender margin but they bounced back in style and raced to victory in the National U18 4x100m outdoor relay with an exceptional performance to take the victory on the line in a time of 51.49.
The victory came on the back of years of dedication to training and near misses in relay finals – a just reward for an exceptional group of girls. All have been in the club since the age of 7 or 8 years old, all have trained hard in the intervening years – some years with success some years without success. They never gave up, they continued to train well every year and their National title and club record is a very well earned reward for the girls. They would be very worthy winners of the team of the year award and are an inspiration to younger members of the club.
Nominee for Athlete of the Year Boys U16-U19: Jerry Keary (U17)
It was a remarkable 2016 for Jerry Keary where despite being sidelined for 8 weeks due to an operation to remove his appendix, Jerry accumulated 7 National medals between indoors and outdoors and between Ireland and Scotland. It started with the Scottish Indoors in January where Jerry made a 10cm improvement to his PB when leaping to victory in the Scottish U17 Men’s High Jump with a clearance of 1.90m.
Jerry added a bronze in the Irish U20 Indoor High Jump with a clearance of 1.90m and followed this up in March with the silver medal in the Irish U17 Indoor High Jump and a clearance of 1.89m – tying with the victor at that height. For good measure, Jerry added a bronze medal in the National Indoor U17 4x200m – demonstrating his versatility in the sprints. Jerry cleared the magical 2m mark in the high jump at the Connacht outdoors in June and followed this up in the same month with victory at the Tailteann Games with a leap of 1.95m to gain selection for the Irish Schools team to contest the SIAB International.
At that international which was held in Kent in July, Jerry showed that he can operate under pressure at the highest levels when clearing 1.99m on his first attempt to take the silver medal amongst the elitist of the elite. And to add to the success story, Jerry medaled again in the National Junior High Jump when taking the bronze medal.
To put Jerry’s 2016 improvement into perspective where he progressed from 1.80m to 2.00m, an equivalent improvement in the space of a year for a 2-minute 800m runner would be to run the 800m in 1:47.5 or for a 35-minute 10k runner to run their 10k in 31:20. It wasn’t all plain sailing for Jerry in previous years. Having medaled in U12 high jump in 2011, Jerry placed 5th, 6th and 7th at National level on many occasions in the intervening years but stuck at it and is now reaping the rewards. Jerry’s achievements would make him a very worthy Galway athlete of the year.
Nominee for Athlete of the Year Girls U16-U19: Laura Cunningham (U17)
Laura Cunningham had her best year of athletics last year since commencing the sport as a 7 year old over 10 years ago. Over the years Laura has shown great dedication and has routinely won Galway and Connacht titles. 2016 was no different with many successes including Galway U17 (Indoor) Long Jump Champion, Galway U17 (Indoor) Shot Putt Champion. Connacht U17 (Indoor) Long Jump Champion, Galway U17 High Jump Champion, Galway U17 Triple Jump Champion, Galway Junior Shot Putt Champion, Connacht U17 Triple Jump Champion, Connacht U17 High Jump Champion and Connacht Schools Intermediate Girls Combined Events Champion.
In addition, Laura scored valuable points for the Craughwell AC Senior Women’s team who placed 5th in the National Indoor League and in the summer for the County Galway Senior Women’s Team who retained their place in the premier division of the National Senior League.
But 2016 was special when Laura leaped to National success with a splendid series of jumps in the National U17 Triple Jump to claim the silver medal with her best jump of 10.29m. Her success was just reward for a lot of years of hard work from one of Craughwell AC’s most dedicated athletes who hardly ever misses a training session.
And to copper-fasten her most successful year ever, Laura was a key member of the Craughwell U18 Girls 4x100m who raced to the National title in July for the first time ever. The relay victory came on the back of a heart-breaking 4th place finish in the National Indoor relays where Laura ran the anchor leg and was just pipped on the line for the bronze medal.
Laura’s dedication, resilience and talent would make her a most deserving winner of the Galway athlete of the year award in her category.
Nominee for Athlete of the Year Girls U16-U19: Lorraine Delaney (U17)
One of the most dedicated athletes in Craughwell AC, Lorraine ascended to the National podium for the first time when taking the bronze medal in the U17 Women’s High Jump at the Scottish Indoors in January with a leap of 1.53m.
The versatile athlete followed this up with a bronze medal in the U17 Triple Jump the Irish National Track & Field when leaping to 10.14m. Incredibly this was the first time that the talented athlete from Clarinbridge had competed in triple jump having just taken the event up at the start of the summer.
These National medals were the highlights of a year which saw numerous Galway and Connacht titles coming Lorraine’s way in the jumping events including an impressive 5.01m jump to win the Galway U17 long jump title as well as a silver medal in the Connacht Schools Intermediate Girls Combined Events.
Her National medals were just reward for Lorraine’s remarkable dedication to training, having trained on average 3 times a week throughout most of the year in spite of the first half of the year being an exam year.
Lorraine’s outstanding year was wrapped up with gold as substitute on the club’s U18 Girls 4x100m team who won the National title in the outdoor track and field.
Nominee for Athlete of the Year Boys U12-15: Finbarr McFadden (U15)
After a slight drop in form in 2015, Finbarr McFadden showed great determination and strength of character to fight back in 2016 with the main aim of qualifying for the outdoor National Finals.
The year started with the Galway Indoors where he had a fantastic 2nd place finish in the 800m. He went on to place 7th in the Connacht Indoors (800m). South Connacht Schools Cross Country followed with an 18th place finish and 26th place finish at Connacht Schools.
Finbarr’s dedication to training from January to May led to his success in the Galway Outdoors by becoming U15 Galway champion in both the 800m and the 1500m. Following on with the Connacht Outdoors he placed 3rd in the 1500m and 4th in the 800m. The South Connacht Schools Track and Field then saw Finbarr place 2nd in 800m with a 5th place finish at the Connacht Schools. Finbarr also competed at the Galway Community Games in the Summer taking Silver in the U16 1500m.
Club cross country season then followed with Finbarr having steady finishes of:
- 5th Galway U15 3.5K,
- 8th U16 4K,
- 17th Connacht U15 3.5K,
- 23rd U16s 4K.
Finbarr has competed successfully for Craughwell AC since joining as an U9 and although the last 2 years have not been as successful for him as they were between the ages of U9-U13, he is a great role model to the younger athletes proving that it’snot always about competing to win but competing through the good results and not so good and loving your sport.
Nominee for Athlete of the Year Boys U12-15: Sean Cotter (U14)
Sean Cotter has been nominated for his achievements and personal growth in 2016.
Sean is an exceptional cross country athlete who has grown so much over the past few years, which has paid off especially for him in 2016 with Sean edging closer to the Top in the National Finals. Sean won gold in Galway and Connacht and placed 28th in National u4 which is a massive achievement in cross country.
On the track he didn’t shy away from the challenge and won gold in 1500m and was 4th in 800 in Galway. In Connacht he took silver in 1500m and went on to 9th place in the Nationals.
For a young boy of u13 years he certainly shows that he has great strength both on and off the Track will go on to do more great things at these distances. Sean’s age age group are very proud of him and delighted with his growth and achievements and looking forward to watching Sean rise to the top !
Nominee for Athlete of the Year Boys U12-15: Conor Hoade (U13)
Conor Hoade recorded a double National silver in 60m Hurdles in 2016, the only National track medals won by Juveniles in the club (up to u17 inclusive) indoor or outdoor.
His National outdoor time of 9.60 was only 0.19s away from the Championship Best Performance. He broke the club record & lowered it several times during the year. He won a stunning 7 silver medals in the County and Connacht outdoors in total, with 4 in the latter.
Earlier in the year, he won a Double gold at Connacht Indoors in Hurdles and Long Jump & followed that up with a 2ND place in Nationals for hurdles, smashing the club record. As well as 2nd place in the National Outdoors for Hurdles, Conor placed a fine 6th in Long Jump, 7th in Relay (having won the heat) and 10th in High Jump.
Conor’s season highlights were as follows:
Nominee for Athlete of the Year Boys U12-15: Evan Hallinan (U12)
Despite his young age, Evan Hallinan had a terrific 2016. It kicked off with an impressive 9th place in the National B Cross Country in Dundalk January before arriving in Athlone on the same day to win triple gold in the U12 high jump, long jump and relay. Evan followed this up at Connacht level to become Connacht High Jump and Long Jump Champion as well as adding silver in the 4x100m relay. The National finals in March saw Evan win the National U12 High Jump Title with a fantastic jump of 1.25m to claim the gold medal. Also competing in the long jump, Evan went very close to adding a second medal with an impressive 4.20m, only 3cm behind the bronze medalist.
Evan continued his impressive form into the outdoor season with gold in the high jump and hurdles at the Galway Championships and triple gold in the Connacht Championship in the hurdles, high jump and long jump. Evan’s jumps were particularly impressive recording 1.45m in the high jump and 4.38m in the long jump. He just missed out on a high jump medal in the National finals when tying with the bronze medalist but losing out on countback.
For an athlete with such explosive power as demonstrated by his jumping form, it’s unusual to also be a force to be reckoned with in distance running. But this amazing athlete demonstrated precisely this during the cross country when scoring on the Craughwell NS 5/6th class team that took the Galway Primary Schools title and also the Connacht Primary Schools title – the first time that Craughwell NS achieved this at Connacht level in the senior boys’ grade. He followed these performances with scoring runs in the Galway and Connacht U12 2000m races to help his team take the Galway and Connacht U12 cross country titles. An amazing combination of explosive and endurance abilities, one that singles Evan out as a star of the future and he would be a fine recipient of the Galway athletics award for this age group.
Nominee for Athlete of the Year Girls U12-15: Chloe Casey (U15)
Chloe Casey had an incredible 2016 with multiple medals at National level and her first international appearance. Her success kicked off with National silver at the National Indoor Track & Field Championships when heaving the 2.72kg shot putt out to an impressive 12.24m in the U15 Girls event. Chloe followed this up with a further improvement in the outdoor season when again claiming National silver with a fine throw of 12.99m. The Irish Schools finals in June yielded yet further silverware for Chloe with an exceptional throw of 12.32m to take the silver medal. Chloe’s National medals came on the back of domination of the shot putt event in the Galway and Connacht indoors and outdoors and in the Connacht schools outdoors.
As well as demonstrating her prowess in the shot putt, Chloe contested the sprints and jumps individual events at Galway and Connacht level, winning multiple medals in the process. The versatile athlete took her multi-talents to an elite level when qualifying for the Irish Schools Combined Events team in the autumn and in the process improving her shot putt PB to 13.31m. Chloe followed this up with a throw of 13.28m in the international, the top throw in her age group to round off an amazing year for the young athlete from the town of Loughrea.
Nominee for Athlete of the Year Girls U12-15: Ellie Cronin (U14)
Ellie Cronin, from the beginning, has shown great natural talent and her 2016 highlights are as follows :
- Indoors season Ellie won in High jump Gold in Galways, Gold in Connachts and place 4th in Nationals..she also took bronze in Galways in 60m Hurdles.
- The outdoor season saw Ellie take silver in High jump and Gold in Connachts and finished 5th in the Nationals, again great achievements!
- Ellie is not just a High jumper and she proved that by taking the Minor schools Connacht title in combined events with her strength scores in 1st in high jump and 2nd in long jump!
- Ellie also placed 9th in National Pentathlon so multi tasking comes easy too!!
- Ellie also ventures out in the xcountry field where she performs equally as well and placed 10th in the Galways helping her team mates to take silver in Galways.
Ellie has had some great Personal Bests along the way up and no doubt this young lady will take that National medal some day soon. In 2017, Ellie will giving last year’s results a run or jump for its money!
Nominee for Athlete of the Year Girls U12-15: Eve Ayo (U13)
Eve Ayo won the U13 60m title in the County Indoors in 2016 in a time of 9.15s. She also led her club team to silver in relay and completed her collection with a 3rd in her first ever Hurdles race.
Illness deprived Eve of progress at both the County and Connacht outdoors, but, she has proved herself as her age group’s No.2 sprinter and achieved the above a mere 2 year after first breaking into the club relay team.
Eve is an example to all athletes that a quiet, very unassuming young child with apparently modest athletic ability can achieve great things very quickly with dedication and application.
Nominee for Athlete of the Year Girls U12-15: Saoirse Moore (U13)
Saoirse Moore won 4 County Indoor medals in 2016 for Hurdles (silver), High Jump (bronze), 800m (bronze) and Relay (bronze).
She was narrowly edged out of medals in Connacht Indoors in 4th place. Cross Country was where Saoirse really shone, as she secured silver in County Championships and a superb 15th in the Connachts.
In Galway schools she finished in 5th place and led her school to 1st place in Cumann na mBunscoil.