Successful Trip to Tír Chonaill Open Track & Field

Successful Trip to Tír Chonaill Open Track & Field

A small group of Craughwell AC athletes made the journey up to Donegal Town for the second annual Open Invitational Track & Field hosted by Tír Chonaill Athletic Club. Sunny skies helped the large number of athletes who hailed from over 16 counties according to the PA, to enjoy a very successful event.

The home club’s venue is a great example of cooperation between the local vocational school and the athletic club, not unlike our own cooperation in Craughwell with the astro-turf pitch and running track. Here in Donegal town, the school provided the site for a 6-lane 100m running track, a high jump area, two long jump pits, a pole vault area and a shot putt area while the athletic club provided the funds to develop the facilities.

The standard across all of the events today was very high, with many National champions in action in all the age groups.

The day kicked off with the U19 girls shot putt where Ashley McDonnell and Maria McNamara were competing, with Maria stepping up an age in order to throw the heavier shot putt. Both athletes threw PBs for the outdoor shot, with Ashley taking the silver medal with a 5.76m best out of 4 attempts (5.76, 5.04, 5.13, 5.60) and Maria taking the gold with a 7.25m best (7.22, 7.25, 7.14, 6.05). Maria’s effort was just 7cm short of the club junior record of 7.32m held by Kelly O’Donoghue.

In the sprints, Aidan Conneely was unlucky not to qualify for the U15 sprint final, running a comfortable 13.50 to easily win his heat by 10 or more metres but losing out on making the final 6 by the tiny margin of 7 hundredths of a second. Ashley McDonnell finished 4th in the U19 girls 100m final in a time of 14.31 while Maireád McCan repeated this performance in the U17 girls 100m final to place 4th in a time of 13.68, fractionally slower than her heat time of 13.60. Melissa Mullins placed 3rd in her heat of the U17 girls in a time of 15.21.

The jumps as is often the case provided the club with the most silverware with 4 medals coming our way. Ashley took the bronze in the U19 girl’s long jump with a best of 4.07m – with plenty of room for further improvement as her takeoff was perhaps 40cm or more from the break line.

Maria took the gold in the U17 girl’s high jump with flawless jumping over 1.40, 1.45, 1.50 and 1.55 before running into difficulty at 1.60 – but that height and higher will become the norm for Maria very soon as she was high above it on her 1.55 attempt. Maireád also had a very good performance in the same event, clearing 1.40m at her first attempt but exiting at 1.45m.

In the long jump, Maria added her 3rd gold medal of the day when leaping 4.82m on her final attempt (4.35, 4.80, 4.82), while Maireád made it a 1-2 for the club when taking the silver with 4.58m on her first jump. Maireád was unlucky on her final 2 attempts to be well short of the board on her 2nd effort and well over the board on her final effort – a little more consistency in the run-up will see her float over the 5m mark to join an elite group of girls from the club which already comprises Maria (5.05), Claire Ryder (5.22) and Cathriona Farrell (5.32). Also in the long jump, Melissa was unlucky not to hit form today when leaping 3.96m and finishing outside the medals – her PB of 4.51m from the indoors would have taken bronze in today’s event.  

Final event of the day was the U17 girl’s hurdles where both Maria and Melissa qualified for the final when placing 2nd in their heats, with Maria rounding off an incredibly successful day with a bronze medal in the final and Melissa taking 4th place.

So an interesting and exciting day in Donegal and perhaps the type of event that the club should participate in more often as it gives the opportunity to compete more often in less pressurised situations rather than just taking part in county, regional and national championships. Only pity is that there aren’t a huge amount of such meetings and they seem to take place a long way from Craughwell.

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