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Published in Club News on 6th December 2012

Athletics in Athenry back in Internet dark ages of late 1995:…

Athletics in Athenry Parish -
1995 - D. McNamara

The sport of athletics is very much a minority sport in
Ireland today and Athenry is no exception in this regard.

However, the sport does promote physical fitness and
offers a non-contact activity with equal opportunities for
both male and female participants. A commitment to
training and achievement of a basic level of physical
fitness is the key to enjoying satisfactory participation
in the sport, particularly at a time when there are so
many negative counter attractions available to the youth
of today.

There are two organisations which promote the sport of
athletics in Athenry parish at the present time: the
Athenry Community Games Committee and the Athenry
Athletics club.

Athenry Community Games

The committee of Athenry Community Games organises the
annual Parish Sports in the month of May. Community Games
offer a limited range of athletic, track and field events
to boys and girls from under 8 to under 17, with each
group participating in a set number of events. For
example, under 10 athletes compete in 100m and 200m, under
12 athletes have 100m, 600m and 4 x 100m relay, under 16
athletes compete in lO0m, 1500m and high jump. Athletes
progress from the Parish Sports to the County Games with
one athlete eligible to compete in each event. The winners
of the County Games held over two days in July qualify to
compete in the National Finals in Mosney on the first
Sunday in September each year.

Community Games also organise a Cross Country Competition
for boys and girls with the first five boys and first five
girls in the County Championships going forward to compete
in a National Final in Mosney in May each year.

The present officers of the Athenry Community
Games are as follows:

Chairman, Walter Burke;
Secretary, Breda Kelly;
Treasurer, Jimmy Somers;
PRO, Eileen Lyons;

Tom Page, who trains and coaches the Athenry athletes,
also holds the position of Community Development Officer
with Galway Community Games.

Athenry Athletic Club

Athenry has a long association with the sport of
athletics. In the sixties there were two adult clubs
located in the parish, Athenry De Wetts and the famed
Derrydonnell A.C.

In late 1989, Marion Freeney and Pat Melia were
instrumental in starting the present club. From small
beginnings the club has grown to be one of the leading
clubs in the entire western region. The club is affiliated
to BLOE, which is the juvenile branch of BLE, the National
Athletics body affiliated to the International Amateur
Athletics. To enable it to compete effectively with the
bigger clubs in the region and to offer some challenge to
the big clubs nationally, e.g. D.S.D, Leevale, M.S.B.,
etc., the club has to recruit athletes from outside the

Present membership is drawn mainly from the Newcastle and
Derrydonnell areas of Athenry plus Oranmore, Renmore and
the Aran Islands.

The present officers of the club are:

Chairman, Tommy Quinn;
Secretary, Dermot McNamara;
Treasurer, Marion Freeney;
Sprint Coach, Mary Kelly;
Middle Distance Coach, Tom Page;
Hurdles Coach, Dermot McNamara;

Committee: Bernie McCarthy, Oranmore; Jarlath Fahy,
Tiaquin; Martin O’Donnell, Aran Islands; Tom Page,
Derrydonnell; Dermot McNamara, Athenry; Mary Kelly,
Renmore. Dermot McNamara also acts as PRO for the Galway
County Board of BLOE.

The season for competition in BLOE is broken down a

September to December — Cross Country; January to March -
Indoor Championships; April to July - Field and Track

All three branches of the sport are organised at County,
Regional and All-Ireland level. Qualification for the
A1l—Ireland is from the Regional Championships. In
addition, Galway County Board organises a track and field
Inter—Club League in June and July each year. In 1995
Athenry Athletic Club were runners up in this competition
to Galway City Harriers.

Co-operation - The Key to Success

In a small community it is vital that duplication of
expenditure is avoided and that resources, where possible,
should be shared by different bodies with similar
objectives. For this reason there has always been close
co-operation between

Athenry Athletics Club and Athenry Community Games, with
the end result being the advancement of both
organisations. A special word of thanks is due to Tom Page
for his all-year—round commitment to coaching the

Having conducted two or three training sessions weekly
plus weekend competitions for BLOE from September to July,
Tom then devotes the month of August to preparing the
local Athletes who have qualified for the National
Community Games in Mosney. This year most of this
preparation was done at the Regional Sports Centre in
Dangan, Galway, on the new synthetic track. Athletes from
Athenry, Craughwell, Monivea, Oranmore, Westside and
Renmore, all working under a variety of officials from
various areas, with each discipline grouped together.

Another example of co-operation was the recent staging of
the County Cross-Country County Championships in Raheen.
The field was provided by kind permission of Kathleen
Bane. Gerry McNamara, Tommy Quinn and Jimmy Fahy found
time to make over 100 flags for marking the course. Edddie
Fox cut the grass. Various clubs made their changing
facilities in Raheen available plus the room upstairs
available for the medal presentations.

Fund Raising

Being a minority sport there is little revenue, so all
monies for necessary expenditure must be raised through
some form of fund-raising. The main expenditure is sending
athletes to compete in Mosney and this is raised through
local churchgate collections.

The budget for Athenry BLOE Club would run to over £5,000
per annum at present. This was raised through: churchgate
collection, £800; bag packing at Super Value, Eyre Square,
£2,400; BLOE club draw, £500; plus member’s contributions
towards transport £l,300. The club wishes to thank the
people of Athenry for supporting the churchgate
collection, the management of Super Value and all who
supported the BLOE club draw. A most sincere thank you is
due to Mary Kelly for organising the bag packing at Super
Value and also to Martin Somers, who was always available
to transport athletes to the regional sports centre for
the weekly training sessions and to various locations for
competitions during the summer.

Roll of Honour –

Community Games

The following have qualified from Athenry since 1990 to
represent Galway in the National Finals in Mosney:

Paul McNamara
Conor McNamara
Martina Finnerty
Margaret Finnerty
Margaret Page,
Nicola Nally,
Padraic Ward
Stephen Kelly
William Donellan
Jarlath Fahy
Michael O’Grady,
Niall O’Brien
Paul Hession,
Damien Rooney,
Joseph Hynes
Claire McNamara
Joanne Page
Aileen McNamara
Tomas Kelly,
Sharon Fahy
Eimear McNamara
Cormac Brady

Ian Prendergast.

Sharon Kelly won an All-Ireland medal with the Galway
Marathon team in 1995


The following members of Athenry Athletics Club won
All-Ireland medals in

Cross-Country, Indoor and Track & Field:

Paul McNamara, Margaret Page, Nicola Nally, Claire
Morrissey, Elaine Kelly,

Breda O’Donnell, Martina Finnerty, Martina Coffey, Jarlath
Fahy, Sharon Fahy, Martina McCarthy, and Conor McNamara.

D. McNamara for the Athenry Journal November 1995.