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Wow, what a week that was.  Athenry athletes competed up and down the country, on the track, in the mud and in the warmth of Athlone Indoor Arena and a hardy group of our younger athletes got introduced to the delights of circuit training in Lisheenkyle.

 

Even Age Cross Country - Bushfield - 20th October

The second day of the County Cross Country Championships, for the 'even' age groups took place on the excellent Bushfield circuit in Loughrea.  Conditions were excellent for some fun in the mud, on what is often a challenging circuit involving some sharp hills, long drags up and down and the chance to spot your targets for overtaking as you run around.  In the U10 Girls race we were unlucky to have our team halved due to illness, but Éalga Monaghan and Hannah Healy took on the course to finish in the heart of the action.  Our bunch of eager U10 athletes, most of them moving up an age from U9s put in a great team effort to finish 6th team out of 11.  Shane Tomas led the team home, close behind some very strong Tuam AC and Craughwell AC athletes.  Nathaniel Drapiewski, Lincoln King, Alex Shaw, Odhran Madden, Liam Cake, Aleksandr Browne and Jack Duane put in an excellent team performance to help Athenry finish well.  The hours these young athletes have put in is starting to tell and they have made good progress since September.

 The U10B Team ready to do battle

 

The ever present, and ever smiling Alice Church joined Alison Canavan and Saoirse Duane for the U12G race.  Unfortunately illness again played a part in Athenry not being able to field a full team.  All the girls ran well with Alice leading home in the top half of the field.  Unfortunately other sports took our U12 Boys team to other parts of the county and so we had no entries at all in that group.  At U14 we had Bronagh Deeley in the girls race, finishing 6th and taking some very notable scalps on the way.  Bronagh also was on hand to look after the younger athletes during the day, which is something we actively encourage in the club.  Sean Doggett again finished among some top class athletes in the U14 Boys race, and should rightly consider himself on a level with these athletes.  Unfortunately Sean was just edged out the medals by ex-Athenry AC team mate Cian McNelis.  As Liam Shaw was on on throws duty further up the country (see below) we had no representation in the U16 boys.  We had one further athlete running, Aine O'Farrell, who is in her final year as an U20 athlete.  Aine was competing in the County Intermediate championships which were being held at the same time as the juvenile competitions.  Aine is pictured below (thanks to Galway Bay FM Sports for the photo), with Edel Kelly who made it an Athenry 1-2

 

Ulster Winter Throws - Finn Valley Centre - 20th October

Whilst our cross country athletes were churning up the mud in Loughrea, a small group of Galway athletes took the long road up to the Finn Valley Centre in Stranorlar, County Donegal.  This was the first running of the Ulster Winter Throws, hosted by Ulster Athletics.  Bernie O'Callaghan, who was the brains behind the competition had extended an invite to Liam Shaw to compete several months ago, and Liam was keen to travel to the home of some of the countries finest throwing talent, past and present to show what he has to offer.  For this competition, Liam had to move up an age group to U16 which also meant having to throw a heavier shot (4Kg) than his usual implement.  As this is the shot weight he will be throwing in next years competition he has just started training with it, so this was an interesting baseline for the winter training season.  Against some stiff competition Liam managed to heave the ball out over the 14 metre mark, landing it at 14m33 for the win.  This was the longest throw of anyone for the day and did elicit a few ooohs and ahhhs from the crowd as it was launched.  A very appreciative and knowledgeable crowd were very kind to Liam and acknowledged his performances on the day.  Liam finished his day with the discus coming in bronze medal position with 28m13, some 10m down on his throw that took National Silver in July.  However this is the first time LIam has had a discus in his hand since that day and overall he was happy with his performance.  A great day was had by all and we look forward to the next of the Ulster Throws events.  

 

 

Connacht Schools Indoor Combined Events - 24th October

As the nights draw in and competitions and training nights get colder, it is nice to be able to have a competition in the relative warmth of the Athlone International Arena.  October traditionally heralds what is the first of the years indoor competitions, with the schools combined events.  The Connacht schools event was the last of the four provinces to hold their competition, and so the last 4 spots in the national final for the Minor, Junior, Inter and Senior age groups were up for grabs.  Athenry AC athletes representing their schools were Sean Doggett (Colaiste an Eachreidh) in the first year boys competition, Bronagh Deeley (St Killians New Inn) and Liam Shaw (Presentation College Athenry) in the minor competition. 

First year boys compete in a quadrathlon (60m Hurdles, Shot Put, Long Jump and 800m) whereas the minors add in an extra event for a pentathlon - High Jump for the girls and 200m for the boys.  Sean ran an impressive 10.71s in the hurdles to finish third in his age group, this was followed by his least favourite event, shot put where he managed 5m83 for 9th and then was just shy of the 4m mark in the long jump, breaking the sand at 3m99.  These results put Sean in 3rd going into the final event, the 800m, probably Seans strongest event.  He put in a very intelligent performance, being towards the front from the start before eventually making his move at the 600m mark and coming home just over 3s ahead of 2nd place.  The points difference was enough to lift Sean into the Gold medal spot, and his first win in the combined events with 1274 points. 

Bronagh Deely found herself in a very stiff competition, containing multiple National medal winners in all the multi-event disciplines.  A fantastic 5th place in the hurdles in 11.01s set her on her way and this was followed up with a 1m30 in the high jump (4th), 3m40 in the long jump (15th - probably her weakest event), and 6m98 in the shot (3rd place).  Until half way through the third round of the shot put, Bronagh was leading that particular event.  Finishing off the penatathlon, Bronagh did what Bronagh is good at and bossed the event completely.  She trailed Caoimhe Farrell for most of the race, eventually moving up going into the final lap and then easing away to win the 800m in a time of 2:44.22.  It is always a long wait at the end of a combined event whilst the scores are checked and the points are awarded.  Bronagh was delighted to have broken the 2000 barrier, scoring 2006 and finishing a great 5th place. 

The final Athenry AC athlete, Liam Shaw went into this knowing he was going to have to battle hard.  At the recent Galway outdoor combined events Liam just edged out Matthieu Madden from GCH in a tight competition.  It was obvious that Matthieu was out for revenge and this pushed both athletes to good performances.  First up, Liam took to the track in the 60m Hurdles.  A poor start from Liam got him to the first hurdle slightly behind everyone else, but he stormed through the field to win the heat in 9.81s.  Matthieu blitzed his heat, finishing in 9.75s and holding an 11 point lead over Liam.  Onto long jump and it got even closer.  Liam jumped 5m19 and Matthieu 5m17, the points gap came down to just 7 points.  Next came one of Matthieus stronger events, the 200m and a fine 25.40s saw him win his heat, and put some daylight between himself and Liam who clocked 27.44s - points gap now 164.  What followed certainly was not expected, and something never seen before in Ireland.  Shot Put is always going to be Liams event to close gaps in a multi-event competition and today was the day it really counted.  On his first throw Liam put the ball out to 17m and 7cm, the first time the 17m barrier has ever been broken in Ireland with the 3Kg shot put.  Matthieu came in 2nd with a valiant effort of 10m74, a throw which would have earned him 8th place in the National Indoor shot put competition so in itself was impressive.  However this had a profound effect on the points with Liam turning a 164 point deficit into a 223 point advantage.  As so often happens in multi event competitions it came down to a shoot out over the 800m.  Matthieu has always had the advantage over Liam in 800m and is capable of a 2:15 800m  which would deliver 523 points.  This would mean Liam would have to run 3 seconds faster than his current 800m indoor PB to take the gold, and could afford to be no more than 17s behind Matthieu.  A densely packed field took to the line, and on the gun Matthieu went to the front with a couple of other athletes.  Liam settled into 5th or 6th place and let the first few laps pass by.  Going into the last lap and Matthieu was 12 or 13s ahead of Liam, but after some serious shouting from the sidelines he picked up the pace.  The clocked stopped for first place man Ben Clavin in 2:16.53 and Matthieu was right on his tail, a count of 1-mississippi, 2-mississippi etc put Liam about 12 mississippis behind Matthieu.  Initially it was thought that Liam had lost out, but when the times came out they were Matthieu 2:17.96 (480 points) and Liam 2:30.37 (318 points) giving overall points totals of Liam 2648 points and Matthieu 2587 points, just 61 points separating them, and victory to Liam.  Yet another hard-fought competition for these two fine athletes, and it required 5 PBs (plus a 6th if you count the points) for Liam to hold on for victory.  In two weeks time they will do it all again at the All Ireland Schools Combined Event Finals, with the two Galway athletes taking 2nd and 3rd place rankings going into the finals.

Matthieu Madden (on left) and Liam Shaw (#854)

 

Training and Half Term Break

We finished off the first half of the pre-Christmas training schedule with a tough run and circuits session.  The noise and excitement soon started to reduce once the session kicked in, but everyone got through it.  Progress across the board is very noticeable, and fitness levels are much greater than that first day back in September, well done on all the hard work.  For the half term week (that is 28th and 30th October) we won't be training.  The athletes deserve a break and rest is as important in athletic development as a track session is - rest should always be viewed as one of the components of training, and not something to feel guilty about that you aren't doing any training.  We will be back on November 4th.

We would just like to thank you all for your patience at training at the moment particularly as we are not able to use the pitch in Lisheenkyle to avoid any damage whilst it is still very wet.

 

 

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