On a truely fantastic day for the club, our U17 boys cross country team placed third in the National cross-country inter-club U17 championships at the weekend in Wexford. If ever a podium-finish was well-deserved, this was it. The team has shown exemplary dedication to training over the last 14 weeks since the start of September.
The team has been together for several years now and has steadily progressed each year. As U11s in 2006, they narrowly missed out on qualifying for the All-Irelands when placing 4th in Connacht, in 2007 they placed 10th in the All-Ireland U12s, in 2008 5th in the All-Ireland U13s, 2009 5th in the All-Ireland U14s, 2010 6th in the All-Irelands U15s, 2011 4th in the All-Ireland U16s and 2012 3rd in the All-Ireland U17s!!!
Well done also to the coaches who have helped the lads reach this level, including Mark Gillen, Mark Davis, Josephine Gardiner and Noel Harvey.
Last year, we commented on how well they did to also place 4th in the inter-county event with all 6 of the Galway scorers coming from the club. Well this year the lads surpassed this by bringing home the silver county medals with a remarkable performance with all 6 of the team in the top 46.
The bronze club medals were taken comfortably with a low-score of 82 points and in fact the team was only 12 places adrift of club silver. The inter-county medals were taken with a score of 160 points, tying with Antrim but claiming silver on countback. The lads can be real proud of themselves because every inch of that race delivered these silver and bronze medals.
The team were led home by a fine performance from Jamie Spelman in 8th place in a time of 17:13 for the 5k distance, with Conor Gillen next in 16th in a time of 17:33, Nicholas Sheehan 27th in 18:03, Damien O’Boyle 31st in 18:06, Matthew Moran 32nd in 18:09 and Keelen Ryan 46th in 18:26. It was a remarkable team performance, particularly in the inter-county event. Every member of the team significantly improved last year’s placing and none more so than Keelan Ryan who moved up almost 50 places from 94th to 46th place. Such an improvement was founded on a lot of hard graft this year in training. Having drifted in and out of the sport in previous years, Keelan has 14 months solid running behind him now and it certainly showed in his All-Ireland performance this year. Each and every one of the team deserve huge credit – Jamie stepping up an age to take 8th place out of his age, Conor showing the effects of a recent virus as he threw up in the sprint to the line at the end of the race, Nicholas and Damien moving up from their preferred 800m distance to run fantastic 5k times and Matthew making another huge leap of 15 places from last years race. Spare a thought also for the 7th member of this team – John Cormican who was ruled out of the cross country season due to injury during the Galway championships.
Also in the medals, Ailbhe Miskella claimed a bronze medal with the Connacht team in the U11 girls 1500m when finishing in 64th place. Finbar McFadden was the leading Craughwell runner in the U11 Boys 1500m with a 30th place finish, while Oisin Lyons had a super run in the U13 boys 2500m to place 18th. Wrapping up a great day for the club, Ciara Greene had an impressive run in the U17 Girls 4000m with a 34th place finish in a time of 17:05. I will update this article with full details of all of our athletes when the full results are made available … hopefully later Monday.