Kingpins (and Queenpins!) of Connacht

Kingpins (and Queenpins!) of Connacht

U13 Boys – Connacht Champions 2011!

A series of powerful performances saw Craughwell AC bring home 5 Connacht team titles and 2 individual titles from an incredible day of cross country action in Ballinamore. It was the club’s best ever day out at a cross country championships. Having ran this course in atrocious conditions in 2009, our teams were pleasantly surprised by the course on this occasion (well 1 or 2 commented on the soft underfoot conditions but it was 100 times nicer than in 2009 and was a great course for both athletes and specators – so a big well done to the local organisers!). The day kicked off with an early start to get to this remote region of Connacht (only joking Mike!). Our bus driver Gerry wisely decided to bypass most of Connacht on the way up – just in case there were any attempts to hijack our bus near Swinford and kidnap a couple of our runners.

 

U11 Girls – Connacht Champions 2011!

First race on the programme was the U11 girls 1500m. This is a very competitive age group in Connacht – with the standard in the Connacht Primary Schools cross country having been very high. While we had a great team in action, we were missing one of our strongest runners in Mia Waters so it was going to be a difficult battle. The girls ran exceptionally well with Sarah McCartin leading the team home in 5th place. With Sarah’s dad Mike being from Ballinamore (some say from this very field), clearly home advantage was in Sarah’s favour and she ran a blinder of a race. Next in after Sarah, Ailbhe Miskella stepped up an age to record a fantastic 12th place, with the rest of the team hot on her heels – Roisin Hansbury 18th, Emma Urquhart 21st, Abigail McNally 23rd, Niamh Treacy 31st, Cathernine Noonan 38th and Leighla O’Boyle 40th.

There were a lot in the race so it was impossible to know how the team result would go and the Craughwell girls were hopeful but not sure of a medal. When the results were later announced, an incredibly tight result saw Craughwell take the Connacht title with 56 points – only 2 points ahead of both Ballina and Swinford and only 6 points ahead of Westport. To put it into perspective, with runners finishing a metre apart, that’s akin to a team victory by 2 metres – or half a metre per runner!

 

U13 Girls – Connacht Champions 2011!!!

The Craughwell AC girls continued to dominate proceedings with Dearbhaile Walshe running a fantastic race to take the Connacht U13 2500m individual title and in the process lead her team to the Connacht team title with 51 points ahead of North Sligo on 62 points and Claremorris on 82 points. This means Dearbhaile had both U13 and U14 Connacht titles to her name this season – a great achievement. The team scoring was completed by strong running from Erin Fitzpatrick in 15th, Grace Whirskey 16th, Aoife Greene 19th, Ciara O’Boyle 22nd and Alice Whirskey 23rd.

The success story continued with the U15 girls claiming the Connacht title in their 3500m race – with a score of 30 points and led home by Ciara Greene in 3rd place, Grainne McDaid 7th, Sinead Treacy 8th and Leanne Freaney 12th.

Just to put these achievements by the girls into perspective, it has been 6 years since a Craughwell AC girls cross country team won a Connacht title, so to win 3 on the same day was an incredible achievement. Prior to this, we won the girls U11 title in 2002, the U12 title in 2003 and 2004, the U13 title in 2004 and the U14 title in 2005. So fantastic achievements all around and particularly encouraging that our U15 girls team won the club’s first Connacht title in this age group. If you are interested in this type of statistics, check out our previous performances in Connacht. Mark Davis tells me this type of stuff is a bit nerdish so if you don’t like nerdish, don’t read it :-).

U15 Girls – Connacht Champions 2011!!!!

In the boys’ U11 1500m, we had another super team taking part. Unfortunately the race start caught us on the hop and we were placed at the back of the 60+ field for the first 500m of the short lap – making it difficult for the team to make progress. However, some fantastic running by the team later in the race saw Finbar McFadden move up to take 6th place, Ryan Gallagher 19th, Darren Lyons 29th, Patrick Noonan 31st, Conor Hughes 33rd, Darragh O’Connor 35th and Sean Noonan 46th. This yielded a total of 85 points, good enough to take 4th place and only 12 points off the bronze medals.

A remarkable performance in the U13 Boys 2500m almost saw a clean sweep for Craughwell AC. Liam Moran went into an early lead in the race and quickly led a group of four that included Matthew Barrett, James Cahalane and a Swinford athlete. Matthew’s shoe came off in the muck in the early half of the race but that didn’t deter this great athlete. As the race entered the final 300m, a spurt from Matthew saw him overtake the Swinford athlete in 2nd place to gain ground on Liam and pip Liam for the gold medal, with Liam taking silver. Only 10 metres behind, a big battle ensued between James and the Swinford athlete. James edged ahead with 300m to go, the Swinford athlete caught him with 50m to go, James edged ahead again with 30m to go and the Swinford athlete just had enough left to take the bronze with James in 4th place. A fantastic team performance saw Brian Loughnane next to finish in 7th place with Sam McArdle not far behind in 12th, Conor Lee immediately next in 13th and Ben Sharkey in 20th – giving Craughwell victory in the team event by a large margin ahead of Ballinamore and Swinford.

In the U15 boys 3500m, unfortunately the club didn’t have a full team – something that we have to address for next year as we have a super ¾’s of a team here. The race started off at a strong pace, with the 2 North Sligo athletes Cian McBride and William Crowe leading it out. Jamie Spellman and Damien O’Boyle made their way into the leading group with Oisin Doyle just behind. As the race progressed, the leading group became three with Jamie and the 2 North Sligo athletes pulling away. Cian McBride had established a substantial lead on the last lap and with about 500m to go, Jamie made a bold move from 3rd place to overtake William Crowe and put perhaps 15m between them.  A tough finish saw Jamie run a fantastic last 500m to maintain this gap and take a great silver medal. Strong running from Damien O’Boyle saw him take 9th place with Oisin Doyle stepping up an age to place in an excellent 14th place. Splitting the 2 North Sligo athletes like this is a big achievement because the two Sligomen are the best 2 athletes in the country in their age group. If you are an adult 5k runner, you will get some idea of the standard of this race by checking out Cian McBride’s time of 16:38 when he finished 3rd in the recent Sligo IT 5k. That time would have been good enough to place in the top 6 in all of the 6 races of the Galway 5k series in 2011.

 

 

U17 Boys – Connacht Champions 2011!!!!!

 

The day was wrapped up by a fine team performance in the U17 boys 5000m to take the Connacht title.  Conor Gillen had another strong run after his recent injury to take 5th place. Neil Greaney made a great Connacht debut to take 7th place overall, while Paul Joyce made a very welcome return to cross country after a number of years absense to finish in a fantastic 8th place. With Matthew Moran 9th, Keelan Ryan 11th and Paul Fitxpatrick 13th, this was a strong team performance and good enough to take the Connacht titles in both the club and county event. The only damper on the day was an unfortunate injury to Brendan Gallagher which resulted in him having to withdraw from the U17 5000m while in the leading group. Brendan was also making a welcome return to cross country action for the club. He injured a muscle in his back and was in considerable pain for some time after the race.

Full results of the day at http://leitrimcommunity.com/news/connaught-cross-country-athletics-results.

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