The weather on Sunday 18th was perfect for our open cross country celebrating one hundred years of athletics with the formation of the National Athletic and Cycling Association in 1922 which was recognized as the athletic organization in Ireland by the International Amateur Athletic Federation. A lot has happened in athletics in the intervening years but the event on Sunday was held to highlight our sport of athletics and how the organization has grown and expanded through time. Moyne AC was steeped in the N.A.C.A.I. and is fondly remembered by many, particularly our older generation and it meant a lot to them to see this fixture take place on what was renowned as a true cross-country course throughout the 1950’s. The club has continued to function since 1948 and our athletes can still be seeing competing across the country at County, Munster and National competitions keeping up the proud tradition of athletics in the parish.
Putting on any fixture nowadays is not an easy thing to do, will it be a success or failure, is everything ready, have we forgotten anything, who will turn up, so it was with great trepidation on Sunday morning that we awaited the arrival of athletes and spectators. We need not have feared as from early on young and old arrived and we were treated to a great spectacle of cross country running throughout the couple of hours of competition. Athletes arrived from Cork, Waterford, Laois, Kildare, Meath, Kilkenny, Offaly, and Limerick to compete with our clubs from Tipperary and this added to the mix of abilities in all the races. Over 270 athletes from U/9 to 80 took part in the various competitions with the juvenile races seeing victories for athletes from Dundrum, Newport, DBB, Nenagh and our club itself with Ballyroan/Abbeyleix and Dundrum taking the honors at the senior races.
Shona Ryan, Dundrum, Maebh O’Donnell, DBB and Meadhbh Hall, Moyne were the top three in the Girls U/9 with George O’Brien, Newport, Matthew Esmonde, Moyne, and Luke O’Connell, DBB heading the field in the Boys U/9. The Girls U/11 race went to Kate Shanahan, Dundrum, with Dearbhla Hickey, DBB in second and Ellen Maher, Dundrum third. In the Boys equivalent Ben Healy, Newport took the honors from Eoin Slevin, Templemore, and Aaron Savage of Newport. DBB had a one, two in the Girls U/13 race with Aoife O’Donnell getting the better of Leah O’Connell with Caoimhe Burke, Newport third. Albert Maher, Dundrum won the boys U/13 event with Fionn Slevin, Templemore in second and Niall Quirke, Dundrum in third. The Girls U/15 race saw our own Alana Spillane heading the field, followed by Eabha Brennan, Newbridge, and another of our club athletes Aisling O’Reilly in third. Nenagh Olympic athletes took the top two spots in the Boys U/15 when Kevin Finn and Dylan Bergin finished first and second with Conor Kennedy of DBB back in third. At U/19 level Millie Kelly, Dundrum was the lone athlete in the Girls race while Nenagh Olympic again took the honors in the Boys race with Daniel Ellis and Diarmuid Moloney finishing first and second while Daire O’Donnell, DBB finished third all having the experience of jumping the “beech ditch” for the first time.
It was then onto the Senior & Master ladies’ race where seventeen athletes faced the starter. The 3k race saw the athletes running two 1,500mts laps and appearing back from the first lap it was Dympna Ryan, Dundrum who led the field, with the course lending to an extremely fast pace. Kate McDonald, Ballyroan/Abbeyleix was just in behind as was Niamh Cunneen, Nenagh Olympic but at this stage any of the three were capable of winning the race. In the end it was Kate who took the honors with a strong second lap to take victory in the Senior category, closely followed by Dympna who won the master’s O/40 title with Niamh solidifying her place in third to finish second senior lady over the line. Her twin sister Ellen came through the field to take fourth and place third in the senior category. Faye McEvoy, Ballyroan/Abbeyleix was next home in fifth with Eileen McCullagh, Thurles Crokes finishing sixth. Hazel Galloway, Clonmel defied her years and ran a great race to finish 17th and take the Master O/60 title.
It has certainly been a while since the club staged a senior men’s race of the caliber on show on Sunday with thirty-seven athletes, seniors, and masters, taking on the 6k event. While many in attendance were in awe of the “beech ditch,” these boys had the task of taking it on four times but appeared to make light of the obstacle on each of their rounds. Kevin Moore, Dundrum was always in the mix at the head of affairs and gradually opened a sizable lead on his competitors who were unable to reel him in and he raced to a great victory, one that was much appreciated by this father John, who himself when running with his home club, Moyne, raced over the same course many a time. John Shine and Conor McCauley both of Leevale AC in Cork tried to match the pace set by Kevin and this resulted in both finishing on the rostrum with John taking second place and Conor third. James Tanner, Nenagh Olympic came through for fourth with Pat Hennessy, West Waterford fifth and Conall Whelan, Ballyroan/Abbeyleix in sixth. Barry Hartnett, Moreabbey Milers was the winner of the O/40 event with Eugene O’Keeffe, Carrick-on-Suir taking the O/50 event while Michael Moore, Dundrum won the O/60 category.
In a novel team event where two men and two ladies scored for their club, points based on their finishing places in their respective races, Ballyroan/Abbeyleix took the honors on 22pts with Nenagh Olympic in second on 25pts and Dundrum third on 30pts. What a close-run affair.
The club wishes to sincerely thank all those who travelled and supported the event and made it such a success. This is what athletics is all about. A lot of work went on behind the scenes over the past while to bring the event to fruition and our thanks to all involved. To all club members who provided support on the day in the various roles, a huge thank you, the club very much appreciated it. To the landowner, Jimmy O’Meara, who went above and beyond to ensure all was ready for the day we really cannot thank you enough. Running any kind of sporting fixture involves monetary output and to this end we wish to sincerely thank our sponsors, Cleary Motors, Thurles who sponsored the Senior Ladies and Men’s races, Centenary Thurles Co-Operative Society, Tipperary County Council and Copymoore for all their support. Our thanks also to our local community shop Tigh Maighne who provided their facilities to the club for refreshments afterwards. In case we have forgotten anyone, please accept this as a sincere thank you for whatever part you had to play in the staging of the event.