Two National Champions in Mosney Community Games!

Two National Champions in Mosney Community Games!

A large contingent of juvenile athletes from the club was part of the County Galway track and field team that headed to Mosney for the weekend of National athletics finals. There were some fantastic performances across the board with 100% effort from everyone, some rewarded with medals, some disappointed to miss a medal after many weeks of training – but everyone involved can be proud that they gave it their best shot and if it didn’t end with the ultimate success of a position on the medal podium, it wasn’t for the lack of effort on their part.

Pride of place at the weekend went to Aidan Conneely in the U10 boys 100m and to Cathriona Farrell in the U16 girl’s high jump. Aidan had as tough a battle through the heats and semi-finals as one could expect, with 3 of the eventual top 4 coming from his heat and all 4 featuring in the same semi-final. Aidan won his heat by a margin of a metre or so ahead of Aaron Williams from Meath, U8 60m Champion from 2 years ago. Aidan repeated this feat in the semi-final to leave him in confident mood for the final. In the final, Aidan ran a superb race – having to battle all the way to the line to take the victory ahead of Darragh Rossiter from Wexford who had finished 3rd in the same race last year and who won the U8 80m 2 years ago. Slightly behind at the 80m mark, Aidan had to draw on every last ouch of energy to cross the line a half-metre ahead of the Wexford athlete. It was a fantastic performance by Aidan and very well deserved, particularly since the format of this year’s AAI competition denied Aidan a gold medal in the AAI National Track and Field.

Sharing top spot with Aidan, the only other Galway athlete to take a gold medal on this occasion was Cathriona Farrell. Cathriona retained her National title in style by jumping 1.70m to take the gold medal, having also won gold in this competition last year and silver in the year before – an amazing achievement. Prior to the competition, the consensus was that Cathriona’s main competition would come from Caoimhe King from Westport whose PB was 1.61m on tartan. Without the spring of the tartan track, grass generally is more difficult to jump from and we felt the competition would be won at about 1.60m. This prediction proved way off the mark! The Westport athlete had a remarkable series of jumps, joining the competition at 1.35m and pushing Cathriona all the way. Cathriona joined at the higher heights and cleared 1.40m, 1.50m and 1.55m all at the first attempt. With 20 athletes having started the competition, only 2 remained after 1.55m. After a quick discussion with the athletes, it was agreed that the bar go up in 3cm increments after that. So up it went to 1.58m, 1.61m, 1.64m, 1.67m – all of which Cathriona cleared on first attempt with a slight wobbling bar at 1.64m causing a brief scare!

The Westport athlete had a number of knocked bars at different heights but cleared 1.61m and 1.64m at the first attempt. The focus of the PA announcer and the attention of the entire crowd had now switched to this fantastic battle as the track events had just finished. Two failures by King at 1.67m followed by a super 3rd attempt to clear it, saw the competition move to 1.70m. Incredibly the bar was now higher than the height that Cathriona jumped to win the British AAA U17 high jump title 2 weekends ago. This coupled with the fact that the competition was on grass which would usually result in lower jumps as the same spring isn’t there that comes with tartan. Cathriona’s first attempt at 1.70m grazed the bar and brought it down. But her 2nd attempt was superb, sailing over the 1.70m with an incredible jump to big cheers from the large crowd now watching this fantastic competition. The Westport athlete made 3 valiant attempts to clear the height but could not get over it on this occasion. A remarkable performance nonetheless from Caoimhe King as she added 6cm to her PB on grass!  So gold for Cathriona on a majestic occasion in the Royal County as she overcame the challenge from King! It certainly joins the AAA competition 2 weeks ago as Cathriona’s toughest competition to date.

Earlier in the day, Ashley McDonnell had a tough battle in the 800m final to finish in 6th place amongst a high-quality field. Ashley had run a good semi-final to qualify in 5th place the previous day. A strong wind down the back straight did not make it easy and she found the semi-final tough. Galway always had lane 1 at the start of the middle-distance races. In track and field, athletes always have to stay in their lane until the first bend has been rounded. In Community Games, this rule is not applied for some reason. This made it very difficult at the race start as it was a longer distance to the first corner from lane 1 than from the outer lanes which had a more direct/shorter line. This was a big factor in the final as a fast start by all athletes saw Ashley almost immediately blocked in towards the back of the pack. Holding her position into the wind up the back straight, the first 200m were covered in approximately 30 seconds – a cruel pace for this age group. If such a pace were maintained for the full race, these 13 year old girls would have broken the senior Irish record of 2.00.69 set by Sonia O’Sullivan in 1994! As the race passed the stand for the first time, Ashley made up huge ground to move from last to the front on the outside of lane 2, with the inside lane held by 2 runners. Unable to get lane 1 for the bend, she had to work hard from lane 2 as the race rounded the bend and then into the strong breeze in the home straight again. Placed about 6th on the final bend, the leading runners accelerated as did Ashley – but earlier heroics had weakened her trademark kick as she held on to take 6th place about 5 seconds behind the race winner Amy O’Donoghue from Co. Clare. Rumour has it that the winner of the race is a niece of two-times World 3000m Indoor Champion Frank O’Mara. So Ashley is certainly in good running company! It was a great performance in very difficult conditions.

The marathon race, 7000m of hard work, saw Shane O’Halloran and Yasmine Tobin make their debuts in a race of this distance. The race kicked off on the grass track and quickly exited onto the roads around Mosney. The boys got underway first, following by the girls about a minute later. Shane got off to a good start, featuring in the leading group as the race exited onto the roads. Both races were team events, with teams of 4 taking part and 3 scoring (i.e. 3 have to finish and finishing positions are totalled up to determine the winning teams – lowest score wins). There were approximately 90 boys and 50 girls in the races. About 25 minutes later, the leading runners had completed the road section and re-entered the Mosney track. Shane had moved down the group at this stage – a savage pace in the front played its part in this in the early stages. But he finished strongly somewhere in the top 25 in a good time of 30:47. Yasmine was placed towards the back of the field as it exited from the grass track onto the roads. Her conservative start paid off as she moved through the field to re-enter the grass track over 30 minutes later in about 20th place and held on to record a very good time of 36:44. Great running by both athletes. The Galway girl’s team placed 4th in the team competition and received certificates on the podium – with Claire Burke (Ballinasloe) in a splendid 4th place and Leona Maguire (Claregalway) 15th. The boy’s team didn’t make the top 4 and their finishing position is unavailable at the time of writing. 

In the relays, the club had members involved on 3 relay teams – Craughwell U14 boys, Ardrahan U15 mixed boys/girls and Craughwell U16 girls. The U14 boys team (Pádraic Tobin, David Farrell, Brendan Gallagher, Shaun Gallagher) were first to compete, qualifying in their heat in 4th place. With 2 members of the team young enough again next year, it was always going to be difficult for them to progress from the semi-final. As they lined up in the assembly area for the semis, the other teams in their semi towered over them and things didn’t looked promising. We switched the order slightly to try to get an improved time – this time running Shaun first, then David, Pádraic and Brendan. Despite a good performance, we didn’t progress from the semi – but it was good to reach the semi. The U15 Ardrahan team were mostly members or former members of Craughwell AC – with the team lining out as Maeve Curley, Ruairi Finnegan, Aoife Callanan and Tomas Keehan, watched by subs Jason Kennedy and Rachel O'Toole. Running a strong heat, the team took 2nd place in the heat followed by 4th place in the semis. In the final, the team got a better lane draw – swapping from the difficult lane 1 into lane 4 and it made a noticeable different to the performance with the team running a fantastic race and Tomas powering down the home straight to take 4th place and the certificate position. 

The U16 girls team had a very strong team and every confidence of making the final. The team lined out with Leah Creaven first, followed by Rachel Kenny, Rachel Finnegan and Cathriona Farrell with sub Sophie Ralston watching eagerly. A good start saw Leah motor around the bend, passing to Rachel K who ran a great 100m up the back straight into the wind to put us right up there in 2nd place. Then a difficult baton pass between the 2 Rachel’s in zone 2 delayed us slightly. But we held 3rd place easily with Rachel F running a superb bend and Cathriona racing down the home straight to hold the qualifying position. Then disaster struck – a red flag had gone up in zone 2 and the officials had ruled that it was an illegal baton change slightly outside the end of the changeover zone. The girls were very disappointed – but can still be proud of the fact that they had got to Mosney and were in serious contention for medals. They finished their heat about 2 seconds behind Limerick, who won the competition outright by more than a second. If you adjust our time by a second for the troublesome baton exchange, we would certainly have battled for a medal in the final.

In other events over the 2 days, PJ Kelly (Kinvara) ran very well to qualify comfortably for the semi-final of the U12 boys 100m. But making the final proved a step too far on this occasion, with PJ finishing 5th or 6th in the semi. Liam Forde (Ardrahan) competedvaliantly in the U10 boys 200m but didn’t make the semis amidst difficult competition. Tara McNally ran a great heat to take 2nd place in the heat but struggled at the start of the semi and didn’t make the final. Ruairi Finnegan (Ardrahan) ran a good heat in the U14 boys 100m to make the semi-final but didn’t progress from there. David Porter (Carrabane) ran well in a high-quality U16 boys 1500m but finished outside the race leaders. The experience of competing at this level will undoubtedly stand to all of these athletes in the future.

Comments are closed.