WELCOME RETURN TO FULL SCALE ACTIVITY WITH SOME GREAT RESULTS SECURED
The rejuvenation of almost full scale activity in 2022 was a huge factor in the resumption of the new version of normal life for Irish sporting organisations.
In athletics terms, competition is the key measure of form and more importantly success. Its absence during Covid-19 was a worrying time for sporting bodies.
Athletics thrives on competition and for young athletes in particular the social and fun aspect of it meant they lost out on many of the formative experiences of growing up.
COMPETITION ONCE AGAIN
While Covid-19 has not gone away, it was a relief to have county, regional and National events once again.
The officials of Mayo County Board did a wonderful job in putting on track and field cross-country, and road championships. They were well supported by clubs, coaches, and parents and not least by athletes themselves hungry for the spice of competitive action.
The Mayo Athletics County Board is led by an energetic committee headed by chair Peter Hynes of Swinford AC. They organised seven county competitions at various locations – cross country st Belleek, Ballinrobe and Swinford, track and field at Claremorris and Athlone TUS, and road 10k at Killasser.
Membership of Mayo’s 14 clubs recovered well to pre Covid-19 numbers – in 2020 when the pandemic began total membership was 2223, it dropped to 2114 in 2021 and rose significantly in 2022 to 2699 (2040 juveniles and 659 seniors and masters).
MAYO CLUB SUCCESS
Among the Mayo clubs Moy Valley AC dominated. The Ballina based club had brilliant juvenile success at local regional and national level and are now recognised as one of the leading clubs in the country. That’s an amazing achievement for a club formed just six years ago.
Their success has largely been built on the contribution of coaches Philip Finnerty, Deirdre Gallagher and Sean Gallagher – like all club officials doing great work on a voluntary basis.
Lake District AC based in Ballinrobe is also a young club and they have done excellent development work to provide facilities for training.
EMERGING YOUNG ATHLETES
There are numerous emerging successful young athletes in the county. To name a few: Freya and Holly Renton, Padraig Corduff Westport AC; Oisín Joyce, Aaron Crowley, Eoin Jennings Lake District AC; Jake O’Brien Darragh Mulrooney, Roxanne Sands and Clodagh Gill Moy Valley AC; Caitlin Hughes Swinford,
Keelan Kilrehill of Moy Valley AC has had another excellent year. He ran his second successive top ten finishers in the European Cross-Country U23 Championships in Italy in December 11. Finishing 9th overall Keelan led the Irish team to bronze.
Shane Bracken Swinford AC broke the 4 minute mile four times, and won National silver senior 1500m.
Hugh Armstrong Ballina AC ran 63:59 half marathon in Ghent and a 2:14 marathon to qualify for European Championships.
Michaela Walsh Swinford AC continued to amass National titles in field events – she now holds 14 titles.
Louise King St Colman’s South Mayo is a multi-eventer – she achieved five personal bests this year.
Mayo AC were one of the leading adult clubs (they don’t have a juvenile section). In 2022 fifteen of their master athletes won an excellent total of 38 medals – 34 individual national, 4 team and 2 International. Among them Pauline Moran won eight gold and broke two national records as well leading her W65 team to victory in British and Irish Masters International Cross-Country.
Fair play also to the club’s 4x100m relay team who won national silver. They are part of an enthusiastic ‘cross-party’ sprinters training group led by Declan Owens Mayo AC and supported by experienced Sligo coach Dermot McDermott.
What more can we say about Sinéad Diver!
She’s had another momentous year in an amazing athletics career to date.
In July, the Belmullet native and Mayo AC member finished fifth in the Commonwealth Games Marathon in Birmingham running for her adopted Australia.
On December 4 she finished 11th in the Maratón Valencia in a personal best 2:21:34- a new Australian record – improving her London Marathon 2019 improving her previous best by some 2½ minutes.
Her Maratón Valencia finishing time made Sinaad the leading Irish woman over the distance, beating Catherina McKiernan’s 2:22.23 in Amsterdam in 1998.
Sinéad Diver is an inspiration to the nation and we are all so proud of her achievements.
COUNTY BOARD AWARDS
All of these achievements will be celebrated at the Mayo Athletics County Awards next month. A total of 134 awards will be presented at the Great National Hotel Ballina on January 22. They will be sponsored once again by Brendan and Julie Chambers. The success of these Annual Awards are primarily due to continuing dedicated work by Co Board PRO Marion Mattimoe Moy Valley AC.
This is just some of the evidence that athletics in the county and region has thrived during this year.
We can look forward with optimism and enthusiasm to another year of sporting success in athletics in 2023.
Above all, have fun!