The club’s top primary school athletes made the long journey to Moyne Community School in Longford yesterday for the Connacht Primary Schools Cross Country Championships. It was a perfect day for running and just as well, for this was a tough course with lots of uphill and downhill and some tight turns.
But it turned out to be a marvellous day for the club with 2 team titles and 2 team silvers coming our way as well as a team 4th and a load of individual top 15 medals.
While Craughwell NS has enjoyed much success in the last 11 years, featuring in the team medals on 11 occasions including 5 Connacht titles in the senior and junior girls categories, the school has never produced an individual winner with Finbar McFadden’s 4th place finish in the Junior Boys in 2011, Grainne McDaid’s 4th place finish in the Junior Girls in 2008 and Cathriona Farrell’s 10th place finish in the Senior Girls in 2003 the best to date. All of this changed today when Rebekah Flynn raced to glory to the Connacht title with an incredible run in the 3rd/4th class race. Rebekah was placed 5th from early in the race and slowly moved up to 2nd when the toughest part of the course presented itself with a steep 100m climb before the finishing straight. As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going and Rebekah relished the challenge of the hill to move into the lead and eventually take the victory by 15 or more metres.
Next in for Craughwell NS Emily Miskella stayed in touch with the leaders right through and raced to a brilliant 5th place. Representing Ballymana NS, Ava Finn was next in from the club with a fine 19th place finish followed closely by Craughwell NS’s 3rd scorer Emma Jane Moran in 23rd. Killeeneen’s Caoimhe Connolly placed 25th with a fine run. Next in from the club, Molly Sullivan had a mega-run to improve on her 56th place finish in the Galway finals with a 35th place finish today – an incredible performance. With Jade Moorhead 53rd and Rebecca Lynch 68th, it was a super strong team performance. Ballymana’s Laoise Bond 36th, Asia Clarke 39th, Emma Malone 65th and Saoirse Pierce 89th also had a super team performance and everyone waited with baited breath to see how the teams fared.
The long wait for the team results was worthwhile with incredible tension as the announcer called 3 teams forward before announcing them in reverse order and declaring Craughwell 1st with a low score of 64 points, 13 ahead of the 2nd placed team. Ballymana placed 4th out of the 16 teams, a fine performance on the day.
Interestingly, the Craughwell girls’ team score of 67 points was the lowest score ever by a Craughwell NS team in the Connacht finals. It was a short-lived accolade however with another fantastic performance coming up by the Craughwell NS junior boys team in their 800m.
Kody McCan was the leading Craughwell athlete in the race with a fine 7th place finish. His Craughwell NS teammate Shaun Gilligan placed next in 12th spot, with Jack Farrell and Adam Stewart hot on his heels in 17th and 18th place, Gavin Kelly 33rd and Darragh McCartin 65th in the 136-strong field. It was a fantastic team performance and one that yielded the incredibly low score of 54 points. The boys also created their own bit of history for their schools as this is the first time that a Craughwell NS boys team have won a Connacht cross country title.
The growth in popularity of athletics in Scoil Mhuire Clarinbridge was very evident with a fantastic performance also from their team to take the silver medals. Gavin Lee led the team home in 11th place with Lee McGinley next in 19th, Conor Hoade 25th and Sam O’Neill 37th to take silver with a fine score of 92 points. Killeeneen were led home by Adam White in 14th place, followed by Colin Counihan 39th, Ben Lawlor 55th, Luke Forde 51st, Dara Sheeran 85th and Mattie Kennedy 88th. Sean Cotter from Gaelscoil de hÍde in Oranmore also had a fine run to take 21st place.
All in all it was a most impressive performance from members of the club in the junior boys race.
Next into action were the girls in the 5/6th class 1000m race where the club had members from Claregalway, Craughwell, Clarinbridge and Killeeneen. Claregalway sisters Rachael and Jennifer Hughes placed 15th and 20th with some fine running, helping their school to 8th place with 210 points. The girls are members of perhaps the most successful family of cousins in the club which includes the Concannons and Mitchells from Kiltullagh, the Greaneys from Craughwell, the Gardiners from Ardrahan – many of whom won National medals in athletics with the club.
The all-5th class Craughwell NS team performed heroically in the same race with Ailbhe Miskella bringing the team home to a 5th place finish and the leading Galway team on the day. Ailbhe placed 17th with Mia Waters 26th, Penny Wells 61st, Sarah Woods 62nd, Aoife Kelly 71st and Kate Stewart 102nd. Scoil Mhuire Clarinbridge took 6th place with an excellent run by Eve McDaid to place 21st, with Aoife Leahy 37th, Katie Phelan 70th, Summer Hopcroft 76th and Maria O’Keefe 94th. Kileeneen’s Catherine Noonan had a fine individual run despite an elbow in the face early in the race, taking 42nd place.
Final race of the day was the senior boys 1000m where all 3 Galway teams included members from the club. The standard of the race was exceptionally high with several All-Ireland medal winners in the field. Galway champions Killeeneen were the pre-race favourites to feature on the podium and they did not disappoint with a fine performance to take the silver medals with 94 points, just missing out on the gold medals by 7 points and tying with the 3rd place team on 94 points. Oranmore Boys took 7th place with 187 points and Craughwell NS took 9th place with 224 points with a mostly 5th class team. Ultan Sheeran led the Killeeneen team home with a fine 6th place finish followed closely by Patrick Noonan in 8th, Phelim McCann 38th, Sean Noonan 48th and Tomo Culhane 59th. This is Killeeneen’s second time to feature on the team podium at Connacht level having won the senior girls title in Ballina in 2007.
Finbar McFadden was Craughwell NS’s leading runner with a strong performance to take 20th place followed by Kyle Moorhead who is improving with every race and placed 31st today, Eanna McDaid 86th, and Victor Costello 87th. William Fitzgerald from Peterswell had a good individual run when placing 43rd overall. Estavio Filipe led the Oranmore team home when placing 39th, with Sean Cannon 42nd, Elliott Luvalaka 52nd, David Walsh 54th, Nikita Zukuos 62nd and Alex Fearon 92nd. Oranmore Boys have dominated the boys events at Connacht level in the last few years and will no doubt be back for more medals next year.
A big well done to all of our athletes. The club are very proud of your achievements. Cross country is not easy and everyone performed remarkably well yesterday.
Full results are here.