Carraig na bhFear AC Finish a Fantastic Fifth at National Finals!

February 07, 2024

Athlone was the venue for arguably the highlight of our club year and we’re only in February as our senior women took on 7 other club teams in the national league indoor final. The national leagues in athletics are ran as part of the indoor & outdoor track and field seasons. In the indoor competition two qualifying rounds are held in January to select the top 8 teams in the country to fight out a one-day competition in February to determine the destination of National medals for the top three teams. Last year Carraig na bhFear AC ladies made their first foray into the competition in more hope than expectation. Looking for appropriate competition for our young seniors and offering a pathway into senior events for our juniors. Reaching the final last year was a big accomplishment where we finished 7th of the 8 finalists. In the 2024 version we had again a bit of a mountain to climb to make the final when facing some clubs with resources and facilities we could only dream of. We made the last 8 again, qualifying as the 4th best team out of the two rounds was well above our realistic expectations.

On last Saturdays final day we again were asking our wonderful girls to step up their games to be competitive and make the little incremental improvements that are so important to be successful. Success to us was an improvement on last year’s 7th position and we had a great reaction from our girls, who after all the events results totted up were 5th .

Great performances all around with top marks coming from our race walker Aoife Martin who took our best performance of the day with 2 nd place in the 1500 meters walk. Top three positions for our two throwers also with Blessing Alamu and Sonya Walsh both throwing seasons bests in shot-putt and weight for distance respectively. Third place also for Emma Coffey who came out of retirement to have a rejuvenated couple of days at the Pole Vault mat. Hopefully it won’t be a once-off and we’ll get to enjoy her energy for years ahead!

Our 4 X 400 team of Orla Coffey, Katie Walsh, Isobel O’Meara & Lucy Lynch also ran the third fastest time of the day when they won their heat in a club indoor record time. A 3km PB also for our youngest member Faye O’Riordan when the 15yr old stepped out against some seasoned international athletes in her race to take 6 th place and three valuable points that meant so much in the overall team performance. Our team also consisted of Emma Akinkuolie (60m & 200m), Lucy Lynch (400m), Katie Walsh (800m), Sarah Morrison (1500m), Orla Coffey (60m hurdles & high jump), Abbie Akinkuolie (Triple Jump), Caoimhe Geoghegan (long jump). Fifth best club in the country is a proud moment for our group of athletes, coaches and supporters. We’re proud of our athlete’s commitment, endeavour and infectious team spirit which is everything we could possibly ask for as representatives of our club & sport.

If that wasn’t enough Track & Field success for one weekend, we also had a sizeable contingent competing in the U20, U23, Senior and Masters Championships in Nenagh on the Bank Holiday Monday. We were complimented by several clubs on our level of support for the Championships but added context was that 5 of our women who competed (Orla Coffey, Katie Walsh, Isobel O’Meara, Sonya Walsh and Sarah Morrison) had competed on Saturday in the National League finals! However, despite the added workload it was a very beneficial day of competition as many athletes took the opportunity to opt for different events and all experience is beneficial. Orla Coffey got some valuable preparation for the multi-event competition in next weekend’s Inter-Varsity Championships with a trio of medals in the U23 competitions. Orla secured 3 rd place in the shot with 8.62m, 3 rd place in the long jump with a best of 4.68m and won gold in the 200m with a time of 27.92. Katie Walsh doubled up in the 200m (28:41) and 400m (1:02:84) to take Senior Bronze. Isobel O’Meara was the gold medallist in the U23 400m with a time of 1:07.04). Caoimhe Gray-Walsh is in her first year at Junior level and ran a well-paced race to take 5 th place in 1:09:51. Sarah Morrison produced an excellent ‘kick’ in the final lap of the U23 women’s race to finish in a time of 2:22:63 and win the silver medal. Our final competitor in the women’s events was Sonya Walsh in the Masters Women Weight for Distance (20lb). One of the most hard-fought events of the day, Sonya had a fine series of throws with PB throw of 6.65m to win the silver medal.

Ruaidhri Boyle negotiated the steep bends on the newly resurfaced Nenagh track with apparent ease to win Gold in the combined Senior/Junior 400m competition in a fast time of 52.26. Ruaidhri followed this up with Silver in the Senior/Junior 200m competition, in a tight finish he was pipped on the line by Ronan Ryan from Nenagh Olympic AC who had earlier won the 60m sprint Senior title. The men’s 1500m was split in to 3 races and Carraig na bhFear AC were represented in all 3. Timmy Hawkins set the pace in the combined U20, U23 and Senior final, leading from gun to tape is a brave move but Timmy timed it nicely, as the pressure mounted from the pack at the bell Timmy had enough in reserve to kick for home to win the Junior and Senior titles in 4:25:13. Timmy followed this with a bronze medal in the Junior 800m race in a time of 2:11:19. Congratulations to Timmy! In the first of the Masters 1500m heats, Willie Walsh had a convincing win in the M45 race in 4:57:54.
Another gold medal was to follow in Heat 3 where Richard Hawkins was 1 st M55 in a time of 5:33.61. Richard also claimed silver in the 800m in 2:45:22. In summary, a thoroughly beneficial and enjoyable day of competition for our club.

Other News: The popular John Treacy 10-miler was held in Dungarvan on Sunday 4th . PB’s aplenty with some super performances from our members. Great running by Diarmuid Kiely (1:08:35), Liam Colbert (1:19:42), Cliona Hurley (1:25:26), John Maher (1:26.00) and Sinead O’Leary (1:27:04).

IMRA: The Irish Mountain Running Association which is an AI subsidiary has quite a substantial calendar of events throughout the year across various distances. Carraig na bhFear AC have had a fair few of their members dip their toes in the pool over the years with no shortage of success. To encourage our members, coach Dave O’Riordan has conducted introductory sessions on the trails to help our newbies to find their feet. A few of our young people went to their first race last Sunday in Bansha woods, Co Tipperary. Five of our juveniles Allie, Hannah, Rebecca, Dylan & Conor were joined by adults Rachel & coach Eileen in the 3.1 km short course race. The girls were 2nd , 3rd & 5th in their category which was a great start to their trail running careers. Dylan & Conor were 1st & 3rd in their respective categories. In the long course race 8.5 km of undulating trails Faye O’Riordan backed up her performance in Athlone the day before with a fine category win to all but seal her league title.

Coaches Dave & Willie were 4th & 5th in their categories along with Rachel O’Callaghan who was 2nd in her category giving her a strong footing in the winter league series in 2nd place with three races to go.

Parkrun: Caoimhe Webb-Browne notched up another good 5k in the Glen River parkrun with a time of 31:13. In Tramore Valley Richard Hawkins ran 19:37 to finish in 7th place overall.

Look Ahead: Best of luck to our athletes who will compete for their schools in the South Munster Schools Cross-Country in Tramore valley park on Friday 9 th and to our athletes competing in the InterVarsity Indoor competition in Abbotstown on Saturday 10th February.

Report by Richard Hawkins and Willie Walsh.

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