Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sligo Athletic Club: Running Shoes

In this beautiful county of ours winning two Gaelic football matches generates much celebration among the natives. You can imagine the feeling of celebration and pride those of us from Sligo who travelled to Tullamore last Saturday felt as William Crowe strode home to win the All Ireland under 14 1500mts title. On his heels strode his North Sligo team mate Cian McBride to finish in second in the All Ireland championship. Another North Sligo athlete Sinead Keogh finished 3rd in the All Ireland girls under 14 2000mts. Sligo celebrations for this trio had hardly abated when Dylan Carty the young Sligo Athletic Club race walker crossed the line to win the All Ireland 2000mts title. In winning he mangled the championship record taking a full 25seconds off the record winning in 9mins51secs. Sligo Athletic Club had also two near misses when Anna Reddin finished a heroic 4th place in the girls under 19 1500mts. Stacey Kerr the young Calry girl was the third fastest qualifier in the heats of the girls under 14, she was drawn in lane 7 in the final which did her no favours but she ran brilliantly to finish 4th in a blanket finish in 26.3secs. And so the curtain came down on a brilliant track season for our juvenile athletes. A season where County and Connaught titles were not celebrated. The focus was on the big prize and boy did our athletes once again do the business. All Ireland winners, All Ireland medals… Let the real celebrations begin!
The much anticipated European Athletics Championships kick off in Barcelona today Tuesday. I accompany the largest ever Irish team (34) at those championships. It is with great hope and expectation that we embark on this journey. It is a great time for Irish athletics. We have a great blend of youth and experience in the squad. I hear much talk about how many medals we are going to win but we need to be realistic. In the history of this championship we have only won a total of five medals. However we have athletes of the calibre of Derval O’Rourke, David Gillick, Olive Loughnane, Paul Hession, Robert Heffernan and Alistair Cragg who on their day are all capable of winning a medal of some colour. Young athletes like Jason Smyth, Steven Colvert and Kelly Proper who if they don’t win medals will gain invaluable experience in a major championship atmosphere. I’m really excited by the week ahead and congratulations to my good friend Robert Heffernan (pictured) who finished a very creditable fourth place in the 20k walk, agonisingly missing out on bronze by a few seconds.

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