Nine athletes from the club represented Connacht at the Tailteann Games today in Santry – over twice as many as last year and yet another sign in the progress the club is making in challenging at the highest level of competitive athletics.
The Tailteann Games has a long history in various guises. The modern Tailteann Games is an inter-provincial competition between the 4 provinces and comprises the top U17 athletes picked from Irish schools in each province. This year is the 50th running of the event in its current form.
These games were originally held every four years in ancient Ireland and mirrored the more famous Olympic Games held every four years at Olympia in Greece. They were revived from 1924 to 1932 by the GAA and according to the announcer at today’s event the 1924 games attracted 600 Olympians as it coincided with athletes’ preparation for the Paris Olympics of that year. According to wiki, the ancient games were founded in 632 BC and held until 1169-1171 AD.
And why is all this significant, well again according to the announcer today, this is the first time ever (since 632 BC!!!) that a Connacht team has won the 4x300m girls relay and Craughwell had the honour of its very own Sineád Gaffney running on the team! Well done Sineád! Alanna Lally was the first runner for the team and had established a lead of 8m as she passed the baton to Sligo’s Stacey Kerr at the 300m mark. The Sligo girl had a fine to run to hold that lead and hand off to Sineád at 600m. With Munster, Ulster and Leinster all battling hard behind her, it looking initially like the gap was closing but as the race progressed Sineád’s strength told and at the final handover to Mayo’s Aisling Forkan, Connacht had a lead of over 10m – a lead which the Mayo girl held to the line to give Connacht a historic victory.
Sineád also had a fine run in a very competitive 800m to finish in a new outdoor PB of 2.27.5 by my times with splits of 29.2s, 38.7s, 39.2s and 40.4s (note the wrong time recorded in attached link to the results). There was a very strong headwind on the home straight which didn’t make for fast times today and partly explains the incredibly fast first 200m in the race which was practically a flat-out sprint.
Nicholas Sheehan also ran a fine 800m to record a time of 2.05.3 in the windy conditions – just fractionally outside the 2.05.08 that Nicholas ran in Dangan last Sunday at the Connacht track & field. Nicholas also had the honour of representing Connacht in the 4x400m, running a strong race at the 3rd runner. Jamie Spellman also had a fine run in the 3000m leading the race for a number of laps in the middle of the race and eventually finishing 7th in a time of 9.27.2 (12 seconds faster than his time a week earlier at the Connacht’s).
Sineád Treacy and Tara McNally were 1st and 2nd runners on the Connacht 4x100m relay team and ran strongly against very strong opposition to finish 4th in a time of 50.9. Tara also recorded a very good 200m into the headwind to take 5th place in 26.7s. In the 3k race walk, Christopher O’Connor finished in 6th place in a time of 16.17.83 – 8 seconds faster than his time in the Connacht’s last weekend which was very good considering the windy conditions.
The windy conditions did not make for good jumping conditions with Claire Ryder having to battle into a strong headwind for each of her jumps in the long jump. Claire’s best on the day was 4.74m which took 8th place and again was a good performance given the conditions. Also struggling with the wind, Damien O’Boyle came close to his PB in the high jump but had to settle for a best of 1.60m – an encouraging performance and Damien’s best since early summer. One would have thought that the windy conditions would have made pole vaulting difficult and indeed it did for many of the competitors but not so for Maria McNamara who again scaled new heights in only her 3rd time competing in the event – taking 6th place with a best of 2.40m.
Full results are on AAI’s web site.