Craughwell AC put in another very strong performance in Nenagh at the weekend in the older juvenile age groups, with a bucketful of Connacht titles, silver and bronze medals and a whole load of Personal Best performances. Between the two weekends of the Connacht Indoors, the club amassed a total of 22 Connacht titles, 17 silver, 15 bronze and countless personal bests – a superb result.
Read on for details of the Craughwell performances and for a link to the detailed results with times/distances for most events.
Detailed results of the younger ages a week ago are already available in an earlier article.
The day kicked off at 11am with the hurdles where Rachel Finnegan and Sophie Ralston took 2nd and 3rd place in the U18 Girls 60m hurdles in times of 10.4 and 12.2, and Caoimhe Quill took 4th place in the U15 hurdles in a time of 14.6. The sprints were up next on the inner track and saw Tomas Keehan retain his place amongst the top sprinters in Connacht by taking an excellent second place in the U17 Boys 60m in a club juvenile record of 7.5.
The outer track kicked off close to 11am also with the 1500m races, starting with seniors and working down to the U16s. The club had 4 runners in action in these races and each race gave the Craughwell supporters plenty to cheer about. First up, Shannen Freaney was taking part in her first ever track race and ran an absolutely superb race that made light of her lack of track experience. Shannen settled into a comfortable early pace in 5th position in her race. As the laps unwound, Shannen drifted 4 or 5m back from the 4th placed Athenry runner but when the bell went for the last lap, eased ahead and looked to the next runner, also an Athenry runner but perhaps 20m or so clear of Shannen. As she rounded the last corner, Shannen put in an incredible sprint finish to just pip the Athenry runner on the line and take a fantastic bronze medal in her first time out on the track in a time of 5.57.2.
Next in action, Peadar Harvey took to the track in the U17 boys 1500m. Still relatively inexperienced on the track, Peadar settled into the leading group early in the race. Running strongly as the race progressed, Peadar sat 4 or 5m back from the leading athlete as he ran a good tactical race to conserve energy for the 800m and relay later in the day. When the bell rang for the final lap, Peadar slowly closed the gap and passed on the final bend to win the Connacht title by a solid margin in a time of 4.52.4. Linda Porter was on next in the U16 Girls 1500m where she ran a superb tactical race, drifting off the strong early pace set by GCH’s Michelle Maher but closing the gap in the last 500m and eventually winning over the last lap with her trademark kick to record a good time of 5.19.8.
Final 1500m was David Concannon in the U16 boys’ event in a scintillating race. David started strongly and tucked in behind Westport’s Anthony Chambers (bronze medal winner in last year’s National outdoor finals). As the laps unfolded, the Westport athlete started to open a gap and as the bell rang out for the final lap, the gap was still there … perhaps 15m or so. As he rounded the final bend and with just 60m left, David put in an unmerciful sprint finish to catch the Westport athlete with 10m left and a titanic struggle to the line ensued with David shading it by the slenderest of margins – coming home in a super time of 4.31.4 – a fantastic time for this age group.
While all this excitement was taking place on the track, our long jumpers were busy in action at the side of the track. First up was the U15 Girls event where Maria McNamara and Maireád McCann were competing in a very strong Connacht competition. Maria put in some superb jumps to leap 4.53m and take 4th place overall (just 9cm from bronze position) – a very very good result considering that Maria hasn’t been able to squeeze in long jump practise for some time into her busy schedule. It was Maireád’s day at the long jump however, hitting a big PB on her first jump of 4.58m, 4.55m on her second jump and hitting a new PB again on her 3rd attempt to leap 4.63m and in the process take the silver medal.
The U16 girls were on next, with Debi Kenny, Orla Ryan and Karen Roche in action. Having got her PB of 4.49m a year and a half ago, Debi has come agonisingly close to breaking this on a number of occasions and today was the day with Debi leaping 4.52m on her first attempt. Breaking this barrier sets Debi up nicely for making further progress in the outdoors. Unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough for a medal on this occasion with Debi taking 4th place – but personally I’d prefer a PB to a medal any day. Debi’s club-mates in the same event jumped equally impressively, with both Orla and Karen getting PBs – Orla jumping 4.23m and Karen breaking the 4m barrier for the first time with a big PB of 4.14m. In the U16 boys while was taking place at the same time, both Liam Dundon and Jack Leahy showed good progress in their long jumps.
Next in the jumps, Ashley McDonnell hit a new PB in the U17 girls with a big leap of 4.78m to take the silver medal – improving on her best of 4.72m from last year’s outdoor competition and underling her potential in this event as she edges closer to 5m. At the same time, Tomas Keehan was jumping in the U17 Boys event, where he recorded a big leap of 5.36m but finished just outside the medal positions in 4th place. Final competitor in the juvenile age groups was Cathriona Farrell. Cathriona has had very limited practise at long jump recently due to the time commitments imposed by her Leaving Certificate studies. She broke the board by 4 or 5 cm on her first jump, moved her mark back by a shoe for her 2nd jump but broke by a good 30cm, moved back by 3 shoes for her final attempts and took off from perhaps 10cm behind the board to record a huge 5.07m jump to take the gold medal. If you added the width of the board and the distance from where she took off behind the board, it would make it a 5.30+ jump which would have been a new PB and again underlines Cathriona’s tremendous ability.
The high jump competition was due to start once the sprints concluded. The sprints were delayed due to a very unfortunate accident where an U18 sprinter was doing a practise start off the blocks and collided with an official. Both men were stretched off to hospital but thankfully both were given the all-clear by medical personnel. First in action in the high jump was the U15, 16 and 17 girls all of whom competed at the same time. Craughwell’s interest in these ages were Maria McNamara and Caoimhe Quill in the U15s and Orla Ryan in the U16s. Caoimhe jumped well up to and over 1.30m but 1.35m proved a little too high on this occasion. Maria and Orla joined the competition at 1.30m. Maria cleared each height up to 1.45m effortlessly to win the gold medal but was unlucky to go out at 1.48m … clearing the bar but coming down on top of it each time. Orla struggled initially at 1.45m but had a super clearance on her third attempt to record a new PB and claim the silver medal.
Meanwhile, the boys’ competition was ongoing, with Ross Haverty in action in the U16 Boys high jump and Tomas Keehan in the U17 boys. Ross was jumping very well and cleared 1.55m on his first attempt to set a new PB. When it went to 1.60m, Ross came very close to clearing it, particularly on his 3rd attempt where he just clipped it with his heels and had to settle for the silver medal. Silver was the colour for Tomas also with a big jump of 1.70m but going out at 1.73m, a height which would have been a new PB.
Meanwhile the girls U18 event got underway with Cathriona Farrell in action. Due to an unfortunate mix-up, no other competitors came for the competition until later in the day! So Cathriona had to jump on her own, which didn’t particularly help her competitive spirit and it would have been better for her if she had jumped with the U17 boys. Clearing the opening height of 1.60m easily, Cathriona effortlessly continued to clear 1.65m and 1.70m, with possibly 10cm to spare on her 1.70m clearance. The crowd fell silent in response to MC Mary Porter’s eloquent announcements as Cathriona attempted to equal her PB of 1.75m. Exploding high up into the air, unfortunately Cathriona clipped the bar each time as she sailed over it … great efforts but 1.75m was not to be on this occasion. With gold sealed for Cathriona, later in the day Sophie Ralston added bronze for the club in the same competition with a jump of 1.30. Also in the jumps, Rachel Finnegan took the gold medal in the U18 Girls triple jump with a jump of 9.38.
While the jumps were taking place, Paul McGill returned to form in the U16 boys shot putt with 3 leading throws to take the gold medal with a PB of 12.17m.
The outer track had resumed earlier with the 200m and the 300m where Rachel Finnegan ran strongly to take 2nd place in the U18 Girls 300m in a time of 46.1, and Ashley McDonnell, Ruairi Finnegan, Paul McGill and Shaun Gallagher competed strongly in their 200m races.
Then onto the 800m where the club had some further fantastic performances. This was probably the most successful day in a long time for the club in distance running events at juvenile level. The 800s kicked off with Orla McDaid and Laura Porter running in separate heats of the U15 Girls 800m. Both athletes made an exceptional improvement on their form in the Galway Indoors in January, with each obtaining PBs of 2.40 for the indoor 800m – with Laura over 17 seconds faster than her Galway time and Orla 13 seconds faster. Paul Fitzpatrick was up next in a red-hot U15 Boys 800m where the pace was set by some exceptional running by Carrick-on-Shannon and Westport. I don’t have a time for Paul yet but am pretty sure it will be a PB because this was an incredibly fast race.
In the U16 Girls 800m, Linda Porter ran her usual strong and controlled race to lead the whole way around and race to victory in a time of 2.34.1. David Concannon, Pádraic Tobin and Jack Leahy lined up in different heats of the U16 Boys 800m. Pádraic was in heat 1 and knocked a huge chuck off his Galway time of 2.39 to break the 2.30 barrier and finish in new PB of 2.27.1 – a terrific performance. David put in repeat of his 1500m victory to race to a fine time of 2.19.6 and in the process claimed the gold medal – an exceptional performance by both David and Linda to come home with the distance double at Connacht level. I don’t have a time yet for Jack but again am pretty sure it will be a PB due to the pace of the race.
Next 800m runner for the club was Peadar Harvey in the U17 Boys, where he shadowed the lead very well until the 3rd lap. In 3rd place at that point, the leading two runners pulled away a little, their legs a little fresher because they hadn’t ran the 1500m earlier in the day. Peadar crossed the line in 3rd place in a new PB of 2.14.2. Final runner of the day was Sophie Ralston in the U18 800m where she ran superbly to take 4th place in a new PB of 2.36.8.
In the senior events, there was a disappointing turnout with only one or two contesting most events. Attention will have to be given to this at Connacht level in order to generate some competition – possibly separating the seniors to a different day and encouraging the older juvenile age groups (U17 upwards) to also take part as seniors. Sarah Finnegan was the club’s only representative in the senior events and took quadruple gold in the 60m hurdles (11.7), long jump (4.25), high jump (1.43) and triple jump (9.93), together with silver in the shot putt (7.09).
Final event of the day was the 4x200m relays. The club had 5 teams in action and all 5 finished in the medals. First in action were the U16 Girls, where in the absence of the injured Katie O’Donoghue, Maria McNamara stepped up onto the team to join Debi Kenny, Orla Ryan and Linda Porter. The team put in a blistering performance to take the bronze medals, recording a time of 1.57.3 which is just fractionally outside the club record for this age group. The U16 boys team put in a repeat performance to take the bronze medals in their 4x200m with their team of Pádraic Tobin, David Concannon, Ross Haverty and Brendan Gallagher in a time of 1.54.5.
Next the U15 Girls team of Maireád McCann, Maria McNamara, Laura Porter and Orla McDaid put in super performance to also take the bronze medals in a time of 2.00.1. The U17 Girls took to the track next with their team of Ashley McDonnell, Shannen Freaney, Debi Kenny and Orla Ryan, yet again claiming the bronze medals – this time in a new club record for this age group of 1.59.9. The U17 boys were the last to take to the track with Ruairi Finnegan, Shaun Gallagher, Tomás Keehan and Peadar Harvey. They put in a top class performance to take the silver medals in a new club record (senior record!) of 1.45.1 – a fantastic result.
That concluded another great day of action on the track. Well done to all of the club’s participants!
Summary results of the day's action are available here.
Detailed results with times/distances are available here.