Craughwell AC Win National Novices 2023!!

Craughwell AC Win National Novices 2023!!

William Fitzgerald did the business in Navan today with an incredible Silver-medal winning individual performance to lead his club to an historic national title. This is the first time in the 117 year history of the event that it has been won by a Galway Club!!!

The 6km Novices Cross Country is one of the biggest races on the domestic cross country calendar with a huge entry and is a fantastic proving ground for upcoming senior talent. To put the standard of the race in perspective – the last man to win Silver in the novices in Navan, Cormac Dalton, went on to win this year’s National Senior Cross Country and the last lady to win it, Fiona Everard ALSO won the National Senior Cross Country!

Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

It was a strange race in that the first finisher on the day, Kevin McGrath was ultimately disqualified as he was inelligible due to winning a National Senior 1500m medal last year (it was a mistake, it happens!). William worked his way through the field as McGrath forged a huge lead early. At half-way Michael Murphy made a big move to chase down McGrath and William went with him, feeling comfortable as he covered each move. As the race came to the last stages, they caught McGrath and William went for broke and forged ahead into the lead but couldn’t hold off a late charge from McGrath who went past on the long uphill drive to the finish, and then Murphy went past in his slipstream. A brilliant race from all three and a great Silver in the end for William.

The banter in the Group chat on the way in!

William has had an incredibly tough year with injuries, but despite that, when he looks back on 2023 it will be with great pride! He fought his way back from achilles injury to make his first Irish cap in Belgium last January and ran out of his skin. After that he smashed the club 5km record, running 14:29 in Armagh. He then got hit with another mystery injury for almost six months but came back to run an unbelievable 24:31 for second place in the Streets of Galway. He then won the Galway Cross Country title for the 3rd year straight and now National Novices Silver and team Gold!

Oisin Davis was next home for Craughwell in 16th. Oisin, in his first and last novices got out hard and ran a largely solo race, just dipping to pip the popular and talented Abaas Edris of Castlegar for 2nd Galwayman on the line. Jack Miskella and Kyle Moorhead were next in 30th and 31st. These are the most imortant positions and where the big points are made – the two lads are middle-distance specialists but bit down and worked well together to pack together well enough to see off a very strong Ennis Track team.

Anthony Boyle had arguably the biggest breakthrough run for Craughwell AC to finish in 59th place as the 6th Galway man home and seal a superb Silver medal for the county ahead of some very high quality athletes.  Anthony has huge untapped potential and this will be a big boost to him. Fergus Kelly ran very strongly to finish in 115th place, an exceptional run from Fergus.  

In the Novice Women, Helena O’Keeffe had a superb breakthrough run to finish in 30th place and 2nd Galway Woman as the county won a Bronze medal. Helena went out way too hard, getting herself near the top 15 in the first two km. I feared a collapse but Helena gutted it out and finished very strongly to come 30th in definitely her finest ever Cross Country performance.

As a result of this race, a lot of the Craughwell AC crew have lost their “N” plates and aren’t eligible to compete in it again – the full list of currently ineligible athletes now reads:

Jason Broderick (Indiv Bronze, 2015)
Caron Ryan (Indiv Bronze, 2019)
Jamie Fallon (Indiv Silver, 2021)
William Fitzgerald (Indiv Silver + Team Gold 2023)
Oisin Davis (Team Gold 2023)
Jack Miskella (Team Gold, 2023)
Kyle Moorhead (Team Gold, 2023)

We still have some strong eligible athletes including Sean Cotter, Paddy Noonan, Anthony Boyle and Kevin Mooney with more coming through so the club’s novices journey isn’t complete for a while yet!

In the u17 boys race, Luke O’Sullivan was the star of the show with a superb 10th place finish.  Luke trailed teammate Declan O’Connell by a distance in the last lap but finished with exceptional pace to clinch a top-10 spot and national medal, with Declan close behind in 15th place.  This has been a breakthrough year for Luke who is from Craughwell AC stock: his dad Peter was a great runner for the club for many years and helped establish the Craughwell 10 road race.

Stephen Ruane is developing at an incredible rate and showed that progression with a fantastic 25th place finish from the field of over 130.

Stephen Joyce came a sensational 25th in the u15 boys race, with Oisin O’Donovan coming 128th in a battling performance.

Sophie Meehan led the club home to a very respectable 15th place in the u13 girls race with a fine 53rd placed finish, going absolutely to her limit after a fall at the start.  Sophie was followed by Laoise Corban (110), Rush Burke (122), Laoise Colleran (153) and Grace Drysdale (161). 

Jack Hibbit was the sole Craughwell AC Competitor in the u11 boys race and finished a fantastic 25th to score on a Silver-medal winning connacht Team. 

U11 Muireann Kelly got the day off to a brilliant start with a fine 19th place finish with Emma McGovern coming 44th.  Muireann scored on the Bronze-medal winning connacht team.

Here is another picture of the club celebrating the novices, this time with some broken down old man in the middle gate-crashing things!! It’s very satisfying to win a national title as adults with a group of kids that all came up through the ranks of the club and stuck with it, and each other. We’ve put in thousands of hours together – well earned!!

All the Winners before Craughwell since 1906!! Well done William, Oisin, Jack and Kyle!!
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