Aidan Conneely leaped to a fantastic double gold at the National Indoor Track & Field finals Saturday in Nenagh. In a nail-biting U12 long jump contest, Aidan struggled a little on his initial jumps to get an accurate mark on the board, jumping well behind the board on each attempt. But on his last jump, Aidan got it perfectly right, hitting the board right next to the break line and leaping into first place with a huge jump of 4.30m.
Onto the sprint later in the day, Aidan showed tremendous composure to win the 60m by the tiny margin of 0.02s, running it in an amazing 8.60s. Aidan just shaded it from Ballinasloe's Colm Cotton who took the silver medal. It was fantastic to see 2 Galway sprinters take the top two places in an All-Ireland final and who knows, maybe one of these guys will steal Paul Hession's senior crown in 7 or 8 years time!
Craughwell AC's success continued with Claire Ryder having a superb long jump to leap a big PB of 4.58m on her final jump, just missing out on the bronze medal by a single centimetre. Claire had a busy day, finishing 6th in the sprint final in a time of 8.89s and 7th in the high jump, equalling her PB.
Gavin O'Toole recorded a big PB in the long jump also, leaping 3.88m to take 6th place. Ella Bryan also leaped a PB in the long jump, jumping 3.90m in the U13 girls event. Sineád Treacy put in a fine performance in the U12 girls 60m sprint to record a time of 9.47s, just 0.01s outside her PB from the Connacht finals.
More medals arrived later in the day with Maria McNamara claiming bronze in the U14 high jump with a jump of 1.40m and coming incredibly close to clearing 1.45m; Ella Bryan claiming silver in the U13 girls high jump with a big PB of 1.40m, Ellen Treacy claiming silver in U12 high jump with an even bigger PB of 1.25m (a full 10cm higher than her previous PB) and Leah Creaven claiming bronze in the U18 triple jump with a leap of 9.36m. On her last attempt, Leah had a huge jump, at least a half metre further but broke by a fraction. Also in superb form in this event, Rachel Kenny took 4th place with a triple jump of 9.30m, unlucky to break her last 2 jumps which might have taken her into a medal position.
In the high jump, Caoimhe Quill (u13 girls) and Jack Raftery (u14 boys) were unlucky to knock the bar when it reached their PB height from the Connacht finals – with Jack exiting at 1.45m and Caoimhe at 1.30m. A 1.45m clearance would have put Jack in the medals.
The high jump competitions proved particularly fruitful for the club and it is rapidly establishing a national reputation for itself as one of the top high jump clubs in the country. Maria McNamara and Ellen Treacy medalled for the first time in high jump at this event while Ella also has a silver medal from last year in her trophy cabinet.
The club is also establishing a fine reputation for itself in long jump, having won 16 out of the 42 medals awarded in long jump at the Connacht Championships. At the National finals today, we had 4 jumpers in action – Gavin O'Toole and Aidan in the U12 boys and Claire and Ella in the U13 girls, with all jumping fantastic PB's and of course Aidan claiming the gold:
– Aidan 4.30m
– Gavin 3.88m
– Claire 4.58m
– Ella 3.90m
For Claire, it was very hard luck to miss out on a medal by such a tiny margin. Having jumped 4.17 to start with, followed by 4.36 and 4.44, Claire was in 3rd place going into the final 3 jumps. A big leap of 4.51 helped consolidate this position but in the final round, the 4th place athlete leaped 4.59m to really heap the pressure onto Claire who was jumping immediately next. Displaying maturity beyond her years, Claire focussed intensely and produced a huge leap of 4.58m which was only fractionally short of the medal positions. This jump puts Claire firmly at the top of the club's jumpers in the U13 age group replacing Cathriona Farrell's 4.45m in this age group at the 2004 indoor finals.
It was a fine day too for Leah Creaven who produced a magnificent 9.36m leap to claim the bronze medal in the U18 girls triple jump. This was a fantastic achivement for Leah who has come very close to a national medal in long jump in previous years but often missed out by a cm or two. It was acheived also with just 6 weeks practise for triple jump and carrying an injury – so plenty of potential for Leah in this event. In the same age group, Rachel Kenny was very unlucky not to join Leah in the medals when leaping 9.30m to take 4th place – another athlete with huge potential in this event.
Unlucky also for Jack Raftery who jumped 1.40m to tie for 3rd place in the U14 boys high jump but lost out because of some failures at an earlier height. And unluckly for Caoimhe Quill who exited her U14 competition when the bar when to 1.30m having cleared 1.25m.
All in all, it was a fantastic day for the club – easily the most successful of the Connacht clubs in action on the day.