Carraig na bhFear AC Off and Running in 2024!

January 09, 2024

Our senior women made the journey to the capital last Saturday to compete in the National Senior Indoor League for the second year in succession. Last year our first foray into this cauldron saw us exceed our expectations by qualifying for the final where we came 7th out of the 8 qualifiers.

This year, like last, we looked at the entry list and felt making the final was going to be a tough challenge up against some of the biggest clubs in the country. We had built on last year’s competition by having eleven girls on the East Cork Division team that won the outdoor inter county version of the National League. This experience has brought a belief and confidence to what is still a very young outfit.

With a couple of our stalwarts absent due to work & overseas commitments we called upon some of our younger members to step up to the challenge and they did admirably. It was an 11.00 am start in the National Indoor Arena for our first three athletes in competition, Lily O’Riordan (60 hurdles), Emma Coffey (pole vault) & Sonya Walsh (28lb Weight for Distance).

Seventh place out of 14 teams (8 points) for Lily in the hurdles after two re-runs due to timing issues was a solid start. Sonya & Emma backed that up with 10 points each for two 5th place finishes in their very specialist disciplines. Katie Walsh then blasted around four laps of the 200-meter track to clinch 2nd place and a valuable 13 points in a very competitive 800-meter race. Following this result, we jumped into 2nd place overall behind another Cork team Leevale AC showing that the south of Ireland is definitely vibrant despite lacking the facilities available to much of the rest of the country. Lucy Lynch (200 meters) and Abbie Akinkuolie (Triple Jump) were next into action at 12 noon. Both took 6th place finishes with a PB run for Lucy and an incrementally improving set of four jumps for Abbie meant each girl brought 9 points to the total.

Our two youngest members of this day’s team were in action in the final two events of the day. Sixteen-year-old Faye O’Riordan (3000 meters) and Caoimhe Gray-Walsh (4 X 400 relay) were not one bit out of place holding their own against some seasoned senior athletes. Faye came 8th in her first ever indoor 3 km in a race that was won by national 1500-meter outdoor champion Amy O’Donoghue of Dundrum South Dublin AC, adding 7 valuable points. The final event of the day was the 4 X 400 relay where Lucy lynch led the first leg handing over to Katie Walsh who in turn passed to Caoimhe Gray-Walsh and Isobel O’Meara closed out the race to take 6th place overall and another 9 points.

When all the totting up was done, we had secured 4th place overall on the day which was two places better than we did on day one last year. Delighted with the return from a fantastic group of women whose attitude and application meant they were not outside the top eight in any competition and that consistency paid off. Two of our long sprinters kicked off their season in Dublin also when they raced as guests in the afternoon programme in the men’s 400m races. Ruaidhri Boyle and Bobby O’Riordan who were part of our National Senior Mixed 4 X 400 silver medallists in last year outdoor competition. Ruaidhri had an incredible first 200m blasting into the lead in his race but that was going to give him a lactic payback in the last 50-meters. It hit his legs hard in the latter stages, but he held on for 4th place in 52 seconds. Bobby ran a different race with a more measured approach over the first 200m to record 54 seconds and 4th place also in his heat. Good first race markers laid down by the lads and there will be loads of competition to see who makes this year’s mixed relay team.

Other News: With all the Cork City parkruns cancelled on Saturday morning, the annual Cork BHAA ESB 5k Cross-Country was nicely timed on Sunday morning to provide an opportunity to test the lungs on a cold, frosty but sunny morning in Beaumont Park. Carraig na bhFear AC had three members in action and they used their recent cross-country experience to great effect. Diarmuid Kiely finished in 21st place overall in an excellent time of 21:13 for the hilly course, also placing 5th in a very competitive M45 category. Richard Hawkins finished 3rd in the M55 category in a time of 22:58. Congratulations to Siobhan Walsh, running the course for the first time, Siobhan had almost 2 minutes to spare over her nearest rival in winning the W40 category.

Look Ahead: Best of luck to our women’s team who travel to Athlone next Sunday for Round 2 of the National League, hoping to consolidate their position in the top 8 teams and secure their spot in the National League final on the first Saturday in February. Locally, the popular IMRA Corrin Hill trail race will take place in Fermoy on Sunday 14th . We had a good turnout of members for the first race of the year in Bweeng and, although a number of the participants will be in Athlone next weekend, the race may be of interest to other members.

Report by Willie Walsh and Richard Hawkins

Featured Image: Carraig na bhFear AC at the National Indoor League in Dublin.

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