Killarney Valley AC continued their upward curve last Sunday when they entered men’s and women’s teams in the prestigious National Indoor Track and Field Championships, which were held in Abbotstown in Dublin.
Despite going up against the best of the best in terms of Irish athletics, the Killarney Valley contingent gave a good account of themselves at the state-of-the-art National Indoor Arena, with coaches Tomás Griffin and Con Lynch coming away with plenty of positives to reflect upon.
The women’s team was comprised of Sarah Leahy, Ciara Kennelly, Alison Butler, Grace O’Meara, Ellen Moloney and Melissa Ahern, while the men’s team included Conor Gammell, Oisín Lynch, Kevin O’Callaghan, Sam Griffin, Jason O’Reilly, Dara Looney and Darragh O’Leary.
The nature of the team event presents a number of challenges and opportunities for the forward-thinking club, as coach Tomás Griffin explained to the Killarney Advertiser this week.
“The indoor league is senior elite level so you’re competing against really strong athletes, including some Olympians,” Griffin said. “Part of the criteria is that you try to cover as many of the events as you possibly can within all of the athletic disciplines. You compete as a team, as opposed to normal athletics competitions which are very much based on the individual.
“If you are 16 or you turn 16 in the year of competition, you can participate. That allows us to give our up-and-coming athletes the opportunity to compete as part of a representative team alongside our more established, older athletes.
“There are two rounds with half the events in all disciplines covered in Round 1 and the other half in Round 2. Last week in Round 1 the track events were the 50m sprint, the 200m sprint, and the 800m, along with the 4 x 400m relay. So, for those events alone, you have to have sprinters and you have to have middle distance athletes all stepping up to compete against one representative from all the other clubs.
“The field events were the shot putt, the long jump, and the pole vault. You can see there you’ve got to have a pretty diverse club that is trying to focus on as many disciplines as possible on the development sides of things.”
Individual athletes earn points based on where they finish in their event (12 points for first etc.), with points tallied together to make up the team’s overall total. There are 12 clubs vying for the women’s title and 13 fighting for the men’s. After Round 2, which takes place on January 23 in Athlone, the top six clubs will advance to the finals.
The demands that such a competition place on a club mean that it is a major achievement to be able to take part at all. Apart from Killarney Valley, Leevale AC from Cork were the only other club in Munster who fielded a team.
“For us to have enough athletes of that age or above, that are competent enough in their disciplines to be able to represent us and compete – and score – is a significant breakthrough. We scored quite well across some of the events. There were some events that we struggled to cover because we’re still trying to develop the full range, but as a club we know that we need to develop those disciplines.
“And we have some younger athletes who are 13 or 14 and they’re now learning pole vault, for instance. If we can maintain the momentum then we will have pole vaulters in a couple of years’ time.”
Griffin says the Killarney Valley competitors really enjoyed the experience, while also putting in some impressive performances.
“They loved it. The bigger powerhouse clubs have very high-profile athletes at their disposal; there were four Olympians whom our athletes got to compete against and interact with.
“Our own Sarah Leahy did exceptionally well in the 60m sprint. She ran the joint fastest time in the league, a personal best of 7.61 seconds, which is the fastest she has ever run 60m indoors.
“In the men’s 60m sprint, Conor Gammell made the top five and ran a personal best. We also had Sam Griffin, who is normally a long jumper, who ran a personal best of 7.58 seconds. He finished third in his race. Dara Looney, another long jumper who was doubling up on sprints, finished fifth and also had a personal best.
“Melissa Ahern, an up-and coming sprinter, ran 8.43 seconds, and Ellen Moloney, who was a first-timer at this level, ran a personal best as well. We have a good batch of sprinters competing and it’s good to expose them to this level.
“Alison Butler scored some valuable points for us in the 800m, and in the men’s 800 Oisín Lynch ran a massive personal best. Our shot putt thrower Kevin O’Callaghan is new to athletics; he had to throw an adult shot (7.2kg) for the first time and he did well, scoring five points for us. In fact, he threw the heavier weight nearly as far as he had been throwing the lighter weight.”
Griffin was keen to stress the importance of each individual team member to the overall group effort and whatever happens in Round 2, he is convinced that entering the competition will have huge benefits in the long run.
“We set ourselves of goal of having a team at National League level by 2023 so we’re a year ahead in that regard. It shows that we’re on the right trajectory.”
Lough Lein anglers enjoy annual charity day
It’s always a popular event, and Sunday was no different for the members of the Lough Lein Anglers Association. The Killarney club, one of the longest established fishing clubs in Ireland, […]
It’s always a popular event, and Sunday was no different for the members of the Lough Lein Anglers Association.
The Killarney club, one of the longest established fishing clubs in Ireland, held their 34th annual charity open fly fishing competition known simply as ‘The Charity’.
It’s part of the angling tradition in the club and is always the most popular event on the fly fishing calendar in Ireland.
Spearheaded by Timo O’Sullivan, to date the anglers have raised in excess of €229,000 for deserving charities in Kerry and Cork. The main sponsor of the event is Lee Strand Co-op, Tralee.
This year’s deserving beneficiaries are the Kerry Hospice Foundation and The Saoirse Foundation – BUMBLEance.
‘What Louise said was bang on’ – Kerry ladies back Ní Mhuircheartaigh in facilities row
by Adam Moynihan
The Kerry ladies are “100%” behind Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh following her comments about the team’s limited access to Kerry GAA’s Centre of Excellence in Currans.
Ní Mhuircheartaigh caused a stir late last week when she revealed that she and her teammates have not been allowed to train at the state-of-the-art facility, which is owned and operated by the men’s county board.
Kerry’s star forward described the lack of access as “annoying”, especially considering the fact that a large photograph of her adorns the entrance to the facility.
Speaking exclusively to this journalist on The Kerry Football Podcast, Ní Mhuircheartaigh’s teammate Kayleigh Cronin confirmed that the whole team are on the same page on this issue.
“I think what Louise said was bang on and we all 100% agree with it,” Cronin said.
“She was put in a bit of a tough position being asked about it, but what she got off her chest is 100% what the team feels. And I can say with certainty that I can speak on behalf of not only all the girls in the dressing room but the backroom team and management as well in saying that what Louise has said is all of our opinions.
“What’s said is said now. We’ll leave it out there for everyone else to be thinking about and to be talking about. Hopefully the county boards can sort it out between themselves. As far as we’re concerned, that’s us done with it.”
In the wake of Ní Mhuircheartaigh’s comments, Kerry GAA released a statement via Balls.ie:
“Kerry GAA have been in discussions with the Kerry LGFA in relation to their use of the Centre of Excellence facilities in Currans and the future development of one of the two undeveloped pitches in the complex for specific use by the Kerry LGFA and Kerry Camogie
“The Kerry LGFA have been accommodated with training facilities at the Centre of Excellence over the past number of years and this will continue to be the case.
“We look forward to working in close collaboration with Kerry LGFA to bring our collective future development plans to fruition.”
Dr Crokes star Cronin says she and her teammates are “absolutely” keen to see that happen.
“We had the pleasure of being in there prior to COVID. It’s an unbelievable facility. It’s obviously very central as well. So hopefully, fingers crossed, the county boards can work together and get the pitch in good nick, so that not only we can use it but the underage teams as well.
“It would be great to have a base to go from in the future.”
Cronin added that team are now focussing on Saturday’s Munster final against Cork, which takes place before the men’s final at 12.15pm in the Fitzgerald Stadium.
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