A small band of Craughwell athletes journeyed to Glasgow for the Scottish Juvenile Indoors Track & Field Championships held on 14/15 February in the Kelvin Hall in Glasgow . The venue was just as impressive as it was in 2008 when the club ventured there for the first time. When you see such a facility and hear talk that Scottish Athletics are going to tear it down because it is too old, it puts our nation to shame particularly with all the wealth that has now been squandered by greed in our boom-to-bust economic cycle.
Highlight of the weekend for the club was Peadar Harvey’s 4th placed finish in the U17 1500m in a time of 4.37.87. This was a super performance in Peadar’s first indoor 1500m and only 2nd indoor race ever. Unfamilar with the distance, Peadar set a strong early pace and led the race for the first 4 laps before setting into a mid-pack position in the leading bunch. As the race progressed, four started to pull away, including Peadar. The pace over the final two laps saw the first two runners establish a substantial gap and the 3rd runner pulled about 20m clear of Peadar by the finish line, with Peadar taking a solid 4th place less than 4 seconds off the medal positions.
Due to leaving and junior cert examinations, Peadar was the club’s only athlete in action in the U17/U20 championships on Sunday. A day earlier, 5 athletes took part in the U15 age group. Pádraic Tobin was first into the fray in the 800m where he ran a very well paced heat to record a PB by over 2 seconds, running 2.37.76. Next into action, Claire Ryder was stepping up a year to contest the U15 long jump. Unfortunately for Claire, she had picked up a stomach bug the previous day and had a miserable night’s sleep and felt quite sick on the day. But much to her credit, she bravely took part in both the long jump and 200m, coming up just short of her personal bests in both events to jump 4.35m in the long jump and run 29.39 in the 200m. Gabrielle Tobin joined Claire in the 200m race and ran a good PB of 33.00 in the heats.
Maria McNamara and Cormac Dillon were next in action, with their high jump and long jump competitions taking place simultaneously. Maria had a difficult preparation for this event in the last month – having to attend a physio for a niggling knee problem on a number of occasions. She put in a remarkable performance to leap cleanly over 1.30m, 1.35m, 1.40m and 1.45m. When the bar went to 1.50m, Maria had a huge effort at it on her 2nd attempt and had cleared it but caught it with the back of her leg on the way down. That would have equalled her PB but was not to be on this occasion – her 1.45m clearance put Maria in 6th place in the event. In the long jump, Cormac Dillon recorded 6 perfectly placed jumps and a huge PB of 4.80m to finish 8th in the U15 long jump. This was particularly pleasing for Cormac as he has often struggled to get an accurate mark on the board, frequently breaking or jumping from behind the board and thus never quite reaching his potential in a competition. His jumps on this occasion were perfect on the board and with a little improvement in technique he will soon progress beyond the 5m mark.
Hopefully the club will be back again to Scotland next year as it provides very good experience for our athletes. The remainder of this article is a bit tedious but records some details of our itinerary and costs in case any member of the club would like to take part next year and want an idea of costs.
The date of the Scottish Indoors is normally in February but is not finalised and announced until late September or early October. Ryanair have a flight to Glasgow PIK that leaves Shannon on Friday evening and returns on Sunday evening and Monday evening. For any athlete competing on Sunday (i.e. U17 or U20), the Sunday evening flight will cut it a little tight and you are best travelling Saturday-Monday or Friday-Monday. If you haven’t been to Glasgow before, make it a 3-day trip as the city centre has loads of shops! This year all our athletes practically lived in the sportsdirect.com shop which was only a few minutes walk from the hotel. It’s well worth a visit whenever you’re in a major UK city as the sports shoes and clothes are remarkably cheap even when compared with other shops in the same city (if sportsdirect read this, we'd be delighted to accept some sponsored hoodies for our trip to Scotland next year!!).
This year, I left it a little late to get the cheapest Ryanair flights on the Friday … probably because the eagle-eyed Denis Finnerty and Sean Finn from Nenagh Olympic had them all snapped up before I even considered going online to check out prices. But luckily we had another reasonably priced option … bmibaby fly from Knock to Glasgow main airport during the middle of the day on Friday and back in the middle of the day on Sunday. So this suited some of our group, while the rest of us booked out from Knock and back into Shannon . If you got Ryanair in time, the flight would likely be less than €50 per person return while bmibaby worked out about €75 per person return. Two key things to remember when travelling – you save money if you check-in online … €5 or more per passenger … and you save same or more if you don’t check-in any baggage and only bring carry-on baggage. But in order to check-in online, your children must have their own identification – a passport in most cases.
Last year, we hired a bus to Shannon airport and back, and 1 from Glasgow PIK to the hotel and back, with this one also taking us to/from the Kelvin Hall each day. The Shannon bus cost €625 and the Glasgow bus cost €960. Glasgow PIK is about a 50 minute train journey from the city centre. Trains run every 30 minutes and it costs £3 per adult or £2 per child single. If a small crowd is travelling, the train is the best option. If a large crowd is travelling and might be difficult to keep together on the train, the bus may be the best option but is significantly more expensive. The option of the bus to/from the Kelvin Hall, while convenient, is not essential as the Kelvin Hall is only a 7 or 8 minute taxi journey from the hotel and a taxi takes 5 people for £5 or £6. With people competing at different times, taxis make more sense – provided of course the athlete won't sleep in or be late! No point in travelling to Scotland only to miss your event in the morning!
For those of us flying in from Knock this year, the flight is into Glasgow's other airport which is the main airport for the city and is about a 15 minute bus journey from the city centre and costs about £5 per adult and £3 per child single.
This year we stayed in Jurys Inn on Jamaica Street in the centre of Glasgow and about a 5 minute walk from the central train station. The hotel was nice and modern. The rooms seemed to be pretty standard with one double and one single in each room. The room was charged a different rate depending on whether 1, 2 or 3 stayed. Last year, we stayed in the Quality Central which is located directly over the central train station. The Quality is quiet an old hotel but with its large spacious corridors and eerily haunted reputation, the athletes in the group entirely enjoyed their stay. The parents probably would have preferred somewhere more modern and Jurys is much better from that perspective – not as easy for kids to roam the corridors and no hotel porters sharing stories of ghosts walking the corridors, but clean and comfortable and new looking . Jurys was full of Celtic supporters for the big match with Rangers on Sunday but we had no ill experiences with rowdy soccer hooligans. Just as well some of last year's parents didn't travel however … we'd have never gotten them out of the hotel bar as it was quiet busy there with all the soccer crowd. Price-wise, the Quality worked out about €40 per person per night last year. The decent Sterling exchange rate meant that Jurys this year worked out even cheaper … under €39 per person per night for 2 sharing and cheaper again for 3 sharing.
For food, we decided not to eat in the hotel this year due to a mixed experience with hotel food last year. But just like last year, we struggled to find a restaurant which would take a group at short notice. I had a few numbers of restaurants from last year and should have booked them before we left home. This weekend was real busy for food due to Valentine's Day on the Saturday and the match on the Sunday. We made do with Pizzahut (and were glad of it!) on Friday night, managed to get a table in Dino's near the cinema on Saturday night (where some of the group ate last year) and got into a nice Chinese just over from the central train station on Sunday night.
Anyway, that's the gist of the trip. Wanted to post the above in case it might be useful for next year's trip!