On a perfect day, Craughwell took advantage of a reduced field to do really well in Athenry 2010. I started running about 7 years ago when the sport was in the doldrums around the west. At that time, Galway had some excellent runners in Paul McNamara, Gary Thornton, Michael O'Connor and Gerry Ryan, but the sport was much smaller than it is now. However it' seems to me that despite the huge running boom, it's still those 4 that are the top quality in Galway and nobody has emerged to worry them. There are plenty of people in the 38-33 minute space but precious few who regularly dip under 33.
Next year a new name will be etched to the back of the coveted Athenry T-Shirt, but it will be that of the incredible 47 year old Craughwell AC veteran Gerry Ryan and not some up and coming young hotshot. Gerry was aware that he would be up against it in this race with the presence of 2009 national intermediate champion Sean Hehir hotly favoured to take it, but he went out overly hard with the intention of burning off the Clare native who runs for Rathfarnham. His plan duly worked and by 5k he was on his own, finishing in a fine time of 31:12. A fantastic achievement, well done Gerry from all the club.
I tell a slight lie when I say that nobody new has emerged – some people have arrived to these shores and GCH have a fine runner on their hands in the form of Matt Bidwell who came home in third place folowing a hard fought battle with TJ McHugh.
Two great stories next for Craughwell – Jason Broderick has had a torrid time with injury over the years, but has stayed true to the sport and he did brilliantly to finish 6th in 34:27. This is the start of a long overdue great year for Jason, mark my words. Tommy Niland like so many before him has moved to London in search of work, but has now joined a great club over there (it's in the rules – you can be in 2 clubs if one's in another country) – the same club as Mo Farah so I expect a savage Athenry 2011 from him!! He put in a huge pb of 35:28 in 8th position. 4th home from Craughwell was Johnny Lane – he hasn't been training and it showed, but he ran an incredible race given his fitness.
After a quick headcount I guessed we took second team place to GCH, however the lads in Athenry use aggregate time to calculate the team positions (the same method is used by AAI in national 10k) so Craughwell took first place by 2 minutes!
Fantastic stuff lads – it's great to know that you can do so well when the walking wounded supporters included fairly strong runners like Peter O'Sullivan, Myself, Martin Corcoran, Paddy Holohan and Justin Niland.
In another first for the club , Ann Moran continued to impress with a great second place finish in the W45 category.
Well done all and well done to Athenry AC for an excellently hosted event – it's still the benchmark race on the calendar.