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Reports - November 2011


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29 November 2011

When St Peter's AC was originally founded in 1955, the club's teams soon established a reputation for themselves as formidable cross country exponents. Since its re-establishment in 1986, however, the club's forte has undoubtedly been in the track and field arena, with some particularly noteworthy successes in the more technical events.

St Peter's youngest member, five-year-old Judith Bell, probably knows nothing yet of the Dromiskin-based club's history. Unencumbered by tradition or expectation, she has proven to be the exception to the rule during the current cross country season. Last Sunday week, just around the corner from her home, she had easily the most impressive run of her short career to date in the Dunleer AC Cross Country Meet, which was staged at the Louth GAA Grounds in Darver.

Judith lined up for the Under 7 Girls' race over a tough 300m course alongside eleven other athletes, who were representing clubs from Counties Antrim, Dublin, Louth and Meath. She stormed into the lead from the gun and never looked troubled throughout the race. As she crossed the finish line she had a healthy margin to spare over the silver and bronze medallists, Hilary Clerkin from Dunshaughlin AC and Katelynn McNulty Casey from Lusk AC respectively.

Judith's excellent win on a lovely day for cross country running clearly bodes well for the future, although it will be a few years yet before she will have the opportunity to compete in the full range of events which make up the sport of athletics.

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22 November 2011

Last Sunday week Mark Rogers of Dromiskin-based St Peter's AC represented his school at a cross country meet in Belgium, which attracted a large international entry. The town of Duffel was the venue for the competition, which was promoted by the local athletics club. Duffel is located 14 miles south of Antwerp in Flanders, and is probably better known as the original home of the duffle coat.

Running in the colours of St Joseph's Secondary School, Drogheda, Mark lined up alongside a large field of athletes from Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland for the Under 17 Boys' race over a course measuring 3610m. Despite feeling unwell on the morning of the race and for a few days afterwards, he had a great run to finish well up the field in 15th place. His finishing time was 13:10, and he was the first athlete from his school across the finishing line.

Mark's efforts helped his school team, which also included a couple of guest runners, to the bronze medals in the team contest. The team laurels went to the Belgian club, Herentals, with St Fintan's High School from Sutton in Dublin just pipping the Co Louth boys for the silver. The host club, Duffel, did supply the individual winner in Simon Denis, but had to be satisfied with 4th place in the team contest.

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15 November 2011

There was a good turnout of athletes, parents, coaches and officials from St Peter's AC at the annual Athletics Louth Awards Night in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dundalk last Friday. There was broad agreement among those in attendance that it was a very enjoyable night. It was also an excellent opportunity for everyone present to socialise with their counterparts from clubs throughout the county away from the usual pressures of competition.

At the start of the evening Angela McGinn from St Peter's took to the stage to present Club Merit Awards to two young athletes in order to recognise their commitment to training and competition during 2011.

This year the Girls' award went to a relative newcomer to the club, Sarah Larney, whose best competitive performance possibly came at the Cushinstown AC Sports in April. There she stepped up an age group to help the Dromiskin-based club's Under 14 4x100m team win the silver medals.

The corresponding Boys' award went to Martin McGrane, who, now in the Under 14 age group, has just completed his fifth season with the club. In 2011 he maintained his unbeaten record in the Shot Putt at the Louth Championships and also made a big breakthrough to win medals at provincial and national level for the first time. These included gold in the Ulster Indoor Shot Putt, three Leinster silvers – in the Shot Putt indoors, and in both the Shot Putt and Discus outdoors – and bronze in the Irish Indoor Shot Putt.

The county chairperson, Mary Agnew, and the competition secretary, Georgina Drumm, then proceeded to present certificates to all the juvenile athletes who had been nominated for County Athlete of the Year awards. Four St Peter's athletes were the proud recipients of these certificates.

Ava Brennan was nominated in the Under 9 to 13 Girls' category. Her achievements this season included gaining silver in the Under 11 Long Jump at the Louth Championships in May and recording a great win in the 75m at the Southport Waterloo AC Open Meet in Liverpool in August.

Gabriel Bell was then honoured in the Under 9 to 13 Boys' category. He set an impressive championship best performance in the Under 11 Long Jump at the Louth Championships and rounded off his season with a superb victory in the same event at the Southport Waterloo Meet on the club's trip to England.

Niamh Fussey received the accolade in the Under 14 to 19 Girls' category, a fitting tribute to her triple gold medal winning feat at the Louth Championships, where she took the Under 17 Hurdles, High Jump and Long Jump titles, in addition to claiming silver in the 100m. Probably her best performance of the year, however, came at the Leinster Schools' Championships in Dublin in May, in which she won bronze in the 80m Hurdles.

Martin McGrane then made his second trip of the night up to the stage to receive the certificate for his nomination in the Under 14 to 19 Boys' category.

The awards ceremony drew to a close with the presentation of trophies to the clubs whose juvenile teams had gained the most points in the Summer League. St Peter's AC was honoured with the 3rd place trophy for the leading clubs in the throwing events. This was accepted on behalf of the team by Emily Rogers and Lauren Finegan.

Lauren is unarguably an outstanding young thrower. Her achievements this year included winning an Under 15 Javelin / Shot Putt double at the Louth Championships, winning the Leinster Championship Javelin title with both her school and club, the latter in a championship best performance, and taking silver in the Javelin with the club at the Irish Championships.

Emily, very much a specialist high jumper, also supported her teammates by competing in a range of events in the Summer League. In her favourite event, however, she won no less than five national championship medals in 2011 – gold in the Irish Schools', silver at Under 18 level in the Irish Juveniles' both indoors and out, and bronze in the Irish Seniors' indoors and Irish Juniors' outdoors.

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8 November 2011

The athletes, parents, coaches and officials of St Peter's AC are now looking forward to the annual Athletics Louth Awards Night in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dundalk this Friday night. However one of the Dromiskin-based club's leading young athletes will be absent on the night, as he will be away in Amsterdam for a cross country race. This is Mark Rogers from Togher, a student at St Joseph's in Drogheda, who is travelling to the Netherlands with his school team.

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1 November 2011

The athletes of St Peter's AC are now well into their off-season training programmes with twice-weekly sessions at the St Joseph's GFC facilities in Dromiskin at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Peter McDonald, a former javelin thrower and sprinter with the club, has joined the coaching team and is playing a key role in directing the sessions.

Olivia McDonald and Emily Rogers are also members of the National Senior Squads for the Javelin and High Jump respectively. This will afford them the opportunity to train with the leading athletes in Ireland in these events at regular intervals throughout the forthcoming winter and spring. They earned their places on these squads by their performances in this year's Irish Senior Championships, in which Olivia won bronze in the Javelin and Emily finished 5th in the High Jump.

In addition, Martin McGrane and his father and coach Tom McGrane, attended separate coaching sessions for the Hammer and Discus recently. The Hammer session in Templemore, Co Tipperary, was conducted by Phil Conway, one of Ireland's leading throws coaches. Vésteinn Hafsteinsson, originally from Iceland and now living in Sweden, led the Discus session in Dublin. The discus throwers whom Vésteinn currently coaches include the Estonian pair Gerd Kanter, the reigning Olympic champion and 2011 World silver medallist, and Märt Israel, who claimed 4th place in this year's World Championships.

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