Over 30 athletes from the club represented their schools in the Connacht Primary Schools cross country finals which were held at Beleek Castle, Ballina on Saturday 13th October last. The day was perfect for running and the course was nice and dry. With the same race having been held here for the last few years, the course is building up a bit of a reputation for itself amongst the school kids, with a tough hill in the middle of the course growing in size in the imagination each year.
This race is easily the highest standard of athletics in Connacht for primary school children. No other competition has as broad a reach into primary schools throughout Connacht and it is a most difficult race in which to feature in the medals.
The 3rd & 4th class 800m races were first to go, with the girls getting away around 1.30pm. With over 100 in the race, it was a congested start as the teams made their way down the first stretch of the course. A good start saw Tara McNally (Kilnadeemna NS), Sinead Treacy (Carrabane NS), Caoimhe Reidy (Ballymana NS) and Ellen Fitzpatrick (Craughwell NS) well up in the leading group. As the race wore on, the hills took their toll a little with Sinead and Caoimhe staying to the front and eventually finishing in a fantastic 11th and 15th position, with Tara in 18th and Ellen 36th. Ellen’s team-mates from Craughwell NS finished strongly with Emma Byrne 41st, Lisa Doran 43rd (a huge result for Lisa), Andrea Tobin 51st and Hannah Rabbitte 55th. The 6th member of the team, Ashling Connolly, put in a Trojan effort though-out the race on a distance unfamilar to her and unfortunately had to pull out with breathing difficulties with 100m to go – but a great race nonetheless in her first season of cross-country. The Craughwell girls finished in 5th place in the team competition with 171 pts, just 17 points behind the bronze medal winners (less than 5 places per runner). A word also for new recruit Katie Donoghue from Kilnadeemna NS who had a great run to take 39th place in a tough race.
In the 3rd and 4th class boys’ race, there were some very impressive team performances with Oranmore Boys NS reversing the placing from Galway to finish in 2nd place ahead of Galway Champions Craughwell NS who took the 3rd spot. A fine performance from both teams at the highest level of cross country running in Connacht. Jamie Spelman in 13th place, National Sprint Champion Aidan Conneely in 16th place and Christopher Rooney in 24th place were the club’s stars on the Oranmore team. The Craughwell NS team were led home by Cillian McDaid in 17th place who just pipped Oisin Coppinger in 18th place, followed by Conor O’Donoghue in 30th, Andrew Greaney with a big improvement on Galway form to take 32nd, Christopher McDonnell who ran superbly with an ankle injury to take 38th place and Dean McCann in 43rd place.
Killeeneen NS has a fantastic performance in the 5th/6th class girls 1000m to easily win the team event with a score of 80 pts, with club member Claire Ryder running strongly to take 26th place and the 3rd scoring position for her school and former club member Rachel Mullins completing the team scoring by taking 35th place. A strong run from Laura Porter (Ballymana NS) saw her take 22nd place – good running from Laura who is still returning from injury after a long layoff. It was hard luck for Craughwell NS girls team in this race, finishing in 4th place with some great running by the team of Maria McNamara (14th), Sineád Gaffney (21st), Ailbhe Greaney (45th), Sarah Molloy (46th), Tara Keady (73rd), Gabrielle Tobin (76th).
Pride of place on this occasion went to the 5th/6th class boys team in their 1000m, becoming the first team from the club to take medals at this level in the primary schools cross-country, claiming a historic bronze medal. Their medal was all the more remarkable since 4 of the team are in 5th class and still young enough next year. The team were 18th Keelan Ryan, 25th Martin Freaney, 35th Paul Fitzpatrick, 36th Liam Sheehan, 38th Conor Lally and 44th James Tansey. A fine run also saw Nicholas Sheehan (Oranmore Boys NS) take 10th place in this race, leading his team to 6th place in the team medals.