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.