The 44th Annual General Meeting of the Donegal Athletics Board took place on the 22nd October and was held in the clubhouse of Lifford Athletics Club. The large turnout had representation from most of the ten clubs in the county and heard of yet another highly successful year for Donegal athletics. In a year where the Olympic Games were held just across the water, another crop of young Donegal athletes had the honour of representing their county at the highest level in international sport. It was also a year where the next generation of Olympians made their mark at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona with many many more making their mark in the county, in Ireland and further afield during the year.
In his Chairman’s address, Neil Martin outlined the marvellous year it was for Donegal athletics. A number of highlights from the year included the involvement of Donegal athletes at the London Olympics. In a team led yet again by Finn Valley’s Patsy McGonagle, the Irish team had Letterkenny duo Brendan Boyce and Caitriona Jennings compete in the walk and marathon respectively, with Finn Valley’s Tori Pena competing in the pole vault. Neil also highlighted the achievements of another crop of youg athletes including a superb 5th place finish by Letterkenny’s Mark English in the final of the World Junior 800m in Barcelona. Other Donegal athletes taking part were English’s club mate Ruairi Finnegant, Finn Valley duo Dempsey McGuigan and Sarah Collins and Tir Chonaill’s Karl Griffin.
Neil Martin, who has been a long time servant of the County Board also pointed to the Donegal 5K Grand Prix series as being a highlight of the year, with the final 5K Road Championship held in Convoy particularly memorable. This years race was held in memory of young Finn Valley athlete Shane Bonner who died tragically last year. The huge turnout at the race from all clubs in the county and further afield was highlighted. However, it was the large turnout from the local community and Shane Bonners friends and school mates that made the race particularly memorable. To conclude his address, Neil thanked the local print and radio media for their continued promotion of Donegal Athletics. He also thanked the outgoing officers for their contribution to Donegal athletics, with a minute’s silence held for those who lost loved ones during the year.
The Treasurer’s report highlighted a positive balance in the accounts yet again in 2012. The main sources of income continue to be competiton fees generated during the year. The large turnout at the Donegal 5k Road Championship in Convoy boosted the finances this year, the only such race in the whole calendar of races held in the county that benefits the County Board financially. As a gesture to the memory of Shane Bonner and to the large numbers taking part in the race, a €1,000 donation will be made by the County Board to a local charity this year.
Senior Competition Secretary Report
In his Senior Competition Secretary report, Brendan McDaid thanked the various clubs that hosted Cross Country, Road and Track and Field competitions during the year. McDaid welcomed the increase in numbers at Cross Country, the addition of new venues and the spread of medals across a number of different clubs. The low turnout at the Track and Field Championships was disappointing this year. This year saw the addition of a third venue, new events and disciplines and electronic timing yet again. Add to this the excellent tartan facilities available across all venues, the low turnout was something that will have to be looked at for next year.
The Brian McCormick Sport and Leisure/Adidas Donegal Grand Prix series exceeded all expectations this year. The series saw nearly 40 races organised across the county, with many more events organised by charities and other sporting clubs. The huge upsurge in road running was welcomed with large numbers taking part across all races. McDaid did however, point to the challenge that the large number of races presents to the County Board in terms of meeting the demands of race organisers and ensuring races are run successfully under the auspices of the County Board and Athletics Ireland. To conclude, McDaid thanked the sponsors of the road race series, and the various race directors for their co-operation during the year.
Juvenile Competition Secretary Report
Brendan O’Donnell presented the Juvenile Competition Secretary report for the year. This year saw a 10% increase in athlete numbers at Cross Country, which was supported by clubs from Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh. At Track and Field, O’Donnell echoed the Senior Competition Secretary’s concerns at the low turnout at an expanded programme for 2012. The numbers taking part showed a 50% drop on last years equivalent, with some clubs not supporting the Championships. The lack of officials made available by clubs was also highlighted as a concern and something that needs to be addressed next year for the safe and timely organisation of competition. Neil Cullen’s leadership of Sporthall in the county was also congratulated, with Donegal athletes and teams well represented yet again at this years Finals in Birmingham. In conclusion, congratualtions were extended to the large numbers of young athletes from the county who continued to excel at county, provinicial, national and international level, with credit due to the clubs, coaches, athletes and parents for all the har work put in during the year.
Coaching Officer Report
The County Board’s Coaching Officer, and Regional Development Officer for Athletics Ireland, Eamon Harvey presented a comprehensive list of courses held during the year with details on the numbers attending. Courses provided included a range of Leader, Assistant Coach, Fit4Life, Level One and Level Two courses which were well attended by coaches from within the county. Indeed, the enthusiasm and attendance by coaches exemplifies the desire to provide the best resources to athletes. Harvey also detailed a Primary Schools Sportshall initiative commenced this year promoted by the Donegal Sports Partnership and Athletics Ireland, and which was attended by 59 schools from around the county.
A recent initiative saw the re-establishment of Regional Event Specific Squad Days. At the first such event in Donegal Town, over 40 parents, coaches and athletes were in attendance at a Hammer, High Jump and Sprints/Hurdles day, which was delivered by some of Ulsters top coaches in these disciplines.
Records Officer Report
In his first year in the post, Records Officer Tom Thompson delivered a comprehensive list of County Records at the end of 2012. Thompson also delivered a report on the records that were broken during the year as well as an expensive list of athletes who made Athletics Ireland’s High Performance Top 20. Such is the ongoing success and progression of Donegal athletics, that the Records Officer was able to report one new National Record, two National Junior Records, one National Youth Record, and an impressive seven County Records to be adjusted.
Tori Pena posted a new National and County Record in the Pole Vault, leaping to 4.52m in California in April. Mark English ran 1.45.77 in the 800m in Ifam Oordegem in May to record a new National Junior and County Record. Sarah Collins broke the National Junior Record in the 5,000m in Koblenz in May in a time of 16.41.29. Also in May, Karl Griffin broke the National Youth Record in the 800m in a time of 1.49.63. At the Olympic Games in London, Brendan Boyce broke the County’s 50k Walk record in 3h 55m 01 s. Dempsey McGuigan broke the County’s Hammer Record in Liverpool in August, throwing 60.37m. Mary McLoone jumped 6.07m in the Long Jump at the National Championships in Dublin in July for another County Record. Hollie Knight broke the County 10,000m record in California in April in a time of 33.08.99, while Maria McCambridge broke the Half Marathon Record in Charleville in August in a time of 73.05.
Registrar’ s Report
It was fitting at a meeting that heard of Olympic representation and outstanding performance by Donegal athletes, that Olympian Danny McDaid should deliver the news of a continued growth in Donegal Athletics during 2012. With ten clubs in the county, McDaid reported a significant growth in numbers, with nearly 1,600 athletes now registered in the county. The increase reflects the growth nationally in numbers involved in athletics, with over 38,000 registered with Athletics Ireland at the end of September.
Election of Officers
The incoming Board for 2013 is as follows:
Chairman: Neil Martin
Vice Chairman: Brendan O’Donnell
Secretary: Niall McGee
Treasurer: Gerry Davenport
Senior Competition Secretary: Brendan McDaid
Juvenile Competition Secretary: Brendan O’Donnell
Coaching Officer: Eamon Harvey
Records Officer: Tom Thompson
Children’s Officer: Bernie O’Callaghan
Athletes of the Year
Senior Male Athlete of the Year: Brendan Boyce
Senior Female Athlete of the Year: Maria McCambridge
Junior Male Athlete of the Year: Mark English
Junior Female Athlete of the Year: Sarah Collins
Masters Male Athlete of the Year: Ciaran Doherty
Masters Female Athlete of the Year: Shauna Carlin