The sun shone brightly on the Palace Grounds in Tuam for the first day of the Galway cross-country for the juvenile even age groups. Well done to Tuam AC for hosting a very successful event on a superb cross-country circuit. And for the 2nd year running, the race organisers used their good connections to arrange for the Palace Grounds to be smothered in sunshine for the day!
The races ran off as follows
– U10 girls 500m
– U10 boys 500m
– U12 girls 1000m
– U12 boys 1000m
– U14 girls 1200m
– U14 boys 1500m
– U16 girls 2000m
– U16 boys 3000m
– U18 girls 3000m
The U10s had a mostly uphill course as one loop of the course was 750m so they started at the foot of a hill and didn't get the benefit of a long downhill that the older ages had. Craughwell AC's Grainne McDaid and Tara McNally tore into a strong lead right from the whistle and with about 100m to go, Tara moved ahead of Grainne to take the gold medal, with Grainne in silver. Strong finishing saw Orlaith Maloney claim an individual bronze medal in the top 10 (places 3-10 received bronze medals) while there was hard luck for Niki Cahill, Andrea Tobin, Hannah Rabbitte and Lisa Doran who finished just outside the medals in 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th place.
The boys race kicked off with Oisin Coppinger battling at the front fwith GCH or the leading position. The battle continued and as they entered the last 100m, Eddie Madden made up a lot of ground to catch Oisin and almost catch the race leader, with Eddie taking the silver medal and Oisin bronze. New recruit Christopher Mooney also had a strong race to finish in the top 10 and take an individual medal.
The girls u12 1000m proved an extremely tough contest, with Claire Ryder battling it out at the front with Ballinasloe and Athenry. In a race for the line at the end, Claire just managed to do enough to take the bronze medal ahead of Michelle Burke from Ballinasloe, with Annie May Bourne (Ballinasloe) and Lorna Hannon (Athenry) in 1st and 2nd place. There was hard luck for Ella Bryan who had to drop out of the race due to a bad fall where she bumped her head, but thankfully she recovered quickly after the race. Craughwell's remaining runners finished strongly, led by Sarah Molloy and Ailbhe Greaney, with Derbhla Maloney coming in as the 4th scorer for the team, followed by Gabrielle Tobin and Shauna Burke to seal a super 3rd place in the team event with a score of 41 points, with Ballinasloe taking gold with 16 points and GCH silver with 35 points.
In the boys U12 1000m, Keelin Ryan had a fantastic race to battle it out at the front with National Indoor 600m Champion Colm Hughes (GCH). In the end, the GCH athlete had too much power for the Craughwell athlete but Keelin ran superbly to come in only metres behind and take the gold medal. U11 runners Brian Concannon and James Spelman had both stepped up an age group here and did superly to finish 5th and 8th to give a strong team result. They were followed by another new recruit David Byrne (David recently transferred to the club from Naas AC), who had a great debut for the club to complete the scoring for the team. David was followed in by Oisin McNally and Christopher O'Connor. The team took the silver medals with a score of 27 points.
The U14 races kicked off next with the girls 1200m. A group of 4 pulled away in the first few hundred metres, with Linda Porter mixing it up with Sive Brassil (Ballinasloe), Maria Touhy (Athenry) and Ruth O'Sullivan (GCH). As the race progressed, it was down to two as Linda and the Ballinasloe girl vied with each other for the leading position. Entering the final stages, the Ballinasloe athlete pulled ahead slightly to take the gold medal with a super performance from Linda taking silver. Strong running from Laura Porter and Katie O'Donoghue saw them finish high up to give the team a great chance of medals. The scoring was completed with a great run from Caoime Quill, none the worse for the injury she picked up at training on Thursday night. A great run in her first cross-country run for the club saw Danielle Madden finish next, with Debi Kenny completing the team finishers – super team commitment from Debi as she had been quite ill in the previous 24 hours. The team were enthusically cheered on by clubmate Orla McDaid who is temporarily out of action with a broken hand, but should be back soon as the cast is due to come off this week. In fact as Caoimhe can testify, it nearly came off at training on Thursday night! When the scores were totalled later, the Craughwell team took at great silver medal in the team event with 32 points.
Next in action, a strong U14 boys team took to the field for their 1500m, led by David Concannon. David put in fantastic performance to move ahead with about 300m remaining and open up a commanding lead on Patrick Hannon (Athenry) and Richard Commins (GCH). David went on to clinch the gold. The top three here will form an exciting team for the Secondary Schools cross-country next January as all three go to the Pres Athenry. Craughwell had a great team performance in this race with David Farrell finishing strongly in 6th place followed quickly by Paul Joyce and Padraic Tobin in the top 10 or 12, and Paul McGill finishing as the final member of the team. The team clinched the gold medal ahead of GCH and Tuam.
Onto the U16 girls 2000m and U16 boys 3000m where Craughwell had Maeve Curley and Sophie Ralston in action in the girls race and Shane O'Halloran and David Porter in action in the boys race. All ran well in their races but finished outside the medals. It was great to see athletes from the club in action in these age groups and hopefully the club can build on this each year as the younger athletes move up the ranks and draw inspiration from seeing their older clubmates in action.
So all in all, a good day for the club with 8 individuals making the top three (2 firsts, 4 seconds, 2 thirds) and 4 sets of team medals – 1 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze.
Full results are available on the Galway Athletics website.