First All Ireland competitors

Moy Valley AC athletes run, jump and throw their way to All-Ireland championships

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”
― Winston S. Churchill

With the formation of Moy Valley Athletic Club comes the distinction that Connaught medals won this year by club members will be the first to be written into the club’s history books.  In years to come as the club reflects on its early days, it will be great to see that we were able to secure provincial medals from the outset. We can look back with pride that sixteen club members in track and field events and two 4 x 100m relay teams have advanced from Connaught to compete for the club in the 2016 All-Ireland track and field championships this summer.

Many of the youngest members of Moy Valley AC made the trip to Dangan in Co. Galway to compete in the Connaught team events (under 9 to under 12) recently having prepared well at the numerous training sessions the club has facilitated since its formation in April of this year. For a number of them, this was their first taste of competitive action and they all put in great performances across the three fundamental athletic disciplines of running, jumping and throwing. The advantage of the team events at this age is that the focus is on the combined efforts of each team member. For example, the under 9 girls team of Emily Duffy and Sarah Dempsey both put in great runs in the 300m with Emily finishing fourth in her race and Sarah 5th in hers with their combined times giving them a 5th place overall finish.

The under 9 boys team of Jack Clarke and Tom Ruane put in a superb effort to secure silver medals in the 60m and the same combination raced very strongly in the 300m. The under 10 girls team of Niamh McNulty and Emer Collins were 4th in the 60m missing out on third place by just .08 of a second while in the long jump the girls also finished 4th. The under 11 girls team of Keira Harrington and Sophie Heneghan took 4th place in the 60m while winning bronze in the long jump.

The club’s first Connaught gold medals in the team event were won by the under 11 boys team of Mikey Cadden and Óisin Mullarkey in the 60m sprint and added to this performance with a third place finish in the long jump.  Billy Ruane and Matthew Leonard also put in good performances in the long jump.

In the U12 girls 600m individual race, Alannah Canavan put in a spirited run to come fourth while in the boys U12 600m, Richie Shelley finished strongly to take silver – once again demonstrating the tremendous combination of stamina and speed he possesses.  Diarmuid Fox, competing in the long jump, continues to improve after only taking up the event.

The relay events combine speed with team work with each athlete endeavouring to pass the baton smoothly to their team members with minimal loss of overall momentum. The Connaught championship relay races were very competitive with clubs all over the province represented with many putting in several teams.  It was great to see the Moy Valley AC teams competing with the best of them. The club were delighted to be in a position to field 8 relay teams to compete at this level.

The under 10 girls relay team of Niamh McNulty, Emer Collins, Emily Duffy and Sarah Dempsey finished 5th overall.  The under 10 boys team of Seán Dillon, Seamus Clarke, Jack Clarke and Tom Ruane also had a strong race.  The under 11 boys team of Oisín Mullarkey, Michael Cadden, Matthew Leonard, Billy Ruane and Seamus Clarke won bronze, while the under 12 boys team of Richie Shelley, Diarmuid Fox, Oisín Mullarkey and Michael Cadden came in 5th – less than a second behind the second placed team. The under 11 girls team of Keira Harrington, Sophie Heneghan, Niamh McNulty and Emer Collins have also progressed to the All –Ireland Championships on 3 July next.  It is important to appreciate that all races at this level are decided by fractions of seconds.

A week later, the teenage members of Moy Valley AC were provided with their opportunity to write themselves into the club’s history books as they took part in their Connaught championships. In one of the day’s first events, Karl Holmes took gold in both the discus and hammer improving on his efforts in the All Ireland Schools competitions.  In the javelin, Patrick Mills showed why he may be a medal contender in the All Ireland competition with a throw in excess of 45 m thus taking the gold with some distance to spare.  In the girls under 15 walk Shannon O’Malley put in another great performance and an excellent time taking the gold and underlining her reputation as one of the province’s best exponents of this discipline.

A talented group of dedicated middle distance runners in the club have been putting huge effort into their preparation of late and their hard work was manifest with some great results. In the 3000m under 16, Keelan Kilrehill strode commandingly to gold and ran a personal best, while the ever improving Conor McLoughlin put in a strong finish to take bronze in a personal best time also in the same race with Moy Valley AC athletes dominating the podium.  In the under 17 boys 800m, the long striding Cormac McDermott took Gold and his first Connaught title after leading the race from start to finish and once again a personal best time was achieved. In the girls under 14 1500m, Catherine O’Reilly qualified for her first individual All-Ireland track event in a very competitive and exciting race taking a well-deserved bronze.  This is a great breakthrough for Catherine and the resulting experience at All-Ireland level will provide a great opportunity for her to run at an even higher level.

Cathy Timlin also made her breakthrough to All-Ireland level for the first time by running a very impressive 800m in the under 14 race taking just under 12 seconds off her personal best.  In the boys under 13 600m, Brian O’Malley ran a personal best and came agonisingly close to qualifying for the All Ireland’s.  In the boys under 13 80m, both James Harrington and Cathal Kelly put in very good performances as they did in the long jump. Darragh Syron put in a good run in the 80m.

In the under 15 100m and 200m races, both Finola Collins and Laura Tighe put in good runs.  In the relays, the boys under 13 team of James Harrington, Cathal Kelly, Barry Gaughan and Brian O’Malley were 5th while the under 15 girls of Finola Collins, Aishling Gaughan, Shannon O’Malley and Laura Tighe were 4th.