Tír Chonaill crowned National League Champions

Saturday, 08 August 2009



Following one of the most exciting and closely contested finals of recent years, the women from Tír Chonaill Athletics Club were crowned Irish Premier League Women’s Champions at Tullamore on Saturday last. In the eight team decider, one point separated the south Donegal base club from Waterford’s, Ferrybank with Cork’s, Leevale and Ballymena and Antrim sharing the third team spot. The 'Woodie’s D.I.Y. Premier and Division 1 Men and Women’s League Finals' decide the leading all round clubs in the country, with the top two teams in Div 1 gaining promotion to the Premier and the winning men and women’s teams from the Premier Division gaining the honour of representing Ireland in the 'European Club Championships' next season.


Tír Chonaill, following two qualifying rounds, entered the final as defending champions and knew they had to perform as never before against clubs that had within their ranks, numerous International athletes who had competed successfully in recent European Under 23/Junior, World University and National Senior Championships.


The nineteen event league programme has a simple points scoring system where finishing positions are rewarded with nine points for a win to one point for an eighth place finish. Every discipline is fiercely contested and at the conclusion teams selects their top fifteen events/scores.


Ballymena and Antrim raced into an early lead with impressive nine point’s victories from International’s Clare Wilkinson (pole-vault and high-jump) and Christine McMahon, recent Silver Medal Winner at the European Youth Olympics, in the 100m hurdles.


Louise Harvey was the first Tír Chonaill athlete in action. In a closely fought 100m hurdles she finished 3rd, 15.1secs behind McMahon and Katie Byrd, Leevale, both timed at 14.8secs.The Donegal Town youngster then hurried to the High Jump where she cleared 1.50m for a joint 4th place finish.


Geraldine Stewart, in the second field event of the day pushed the shot to 11.63m for victory , the first of six nine point Tír Chonaill wins. Marie Rooney, in the demanding 1500m walk, finished an excellent third, 8mins 20.1secs and an added six points to the team total. Louise Harvey had a similar finishing position in the 400m Hurdles, 66.07secs behind McMahon, Ballymena and Antrim and Orla Finn, Bandon. International’s Kelly Proper and Niamh Whelan led Ferrybank to victory in the 4 x 100m, 48.11secs. Tír Chonaill quartet Geraldine Stewart, Mary McLoone, Louise Harvey and Lisa Shiels ran an excellent time of 49.49secs for 4th.


As the competition approached mid way Tír Chonaill had their most successful scoring period. National Triple Jump Champion, Mary McLoone, won her favourite discipline with a best of 11.70m. She followed up in the 400m with a winning time of 55.9secs, clinching victory over recent European U23 contestant Jo Patterson, Ballymena and Antrim, in the final fifty metres. Michelle Harvey, added maximum points in the 1500m, time 4mins 37.62secs, when out sprinting Borrisokane’s Siobhan O’Doherty in the final straight. The public address indicated that the Donegal women held a slight lead with six points separating Ballymena and Antrim, Leevale, Ferrybank and Bandon.


Mary McLoone on her way to winning the 400m


Michelle Harvey

Michelle Harvey, in the 1500m


Less than two metres separated the top four in the Javelin. Geraldine Stewart, 30.18m, added 5pts for a fourth place finish with Athletics Meath, Leevale and Ferrybank filling the top three spots.


As clip boarded team managers busied themselves calculating, Tír Chonaill added valuable points in three nail biting track events. Lisa Shiels finished an excellent third in the 200m, 26.44secs, less than five hundredths separated 3rd and 6th positions. Ferrybank’s, Niamh Whelan, 4th in the recent European U23 Championships, was the winner and the Waterford squad, one of the pre event favourites challenged Tír Chonaill for overall supremacy.


Michelle Harvey, time 2mins 14.85secs, in a tactical 800m was too strong for Athletics Meath’s Sarah Tracey over the final 70 metres. Tracey was also a recent competitor in the European Under 23’s. Teresa McGloin followed up and won the 3000m in a P. B. time of 10mins 00.39secs, the margin of victory of 0.14secs achieved in the last two strides of the race epitomized the determination and focus of the Tír Chonaill Team through out the day.


As the event neared a climax, Tír Chonaill, held pole position. Ballymena and Antrim, Leevale and Bandon were contesting a top three placing with Ferrybank and their very strong sprinting squad looking like the team most likely to challenge. Ciara Kennedy, had earlier won the Hammer for the southern club and added the Discus title in the final throwing event of the afternoon. Brenda Morris, Hammer and Michelle Harvey, Discus, kept Tír Chonaill in the lead. Lisa Shiels in the 100m - gained valuable points when finishing 4th behind Niamh Whelan, Ferrybank, National 100m champion Ailis McSweeney, Leevale and Anna Boyle, Ballymena and Antrim.


Mary McLoone scored 7pts for a 2nd place finish in the Long jump. Kelly Proper won the event for Ferrybank with a new Irish record of 6.51m.


Finishing positions in the 4 x 400m relay, the final event of the day, would decide the championship. Tír Chonaill held a three point’s lead over Ferrybank and the mathematics indicated that the Waterford club needed to finish three places ahead of Tír Chonaill to clinch victory. The quartet of Louise Harvey, Michelle Harvey, Lisa Shiels and Mary McLoone filled 4th place with Ballymena and Antrim winning impressively from Ferrybank in 2nd position. Two points were clawed back and the Donegal women held on by the narrowest of margins to record a remarkable victory.


Overall results Women’s Premier Division

1 Tír Chonaill AC 114pts

2 Ferrybank AC 113pts

3 Ballymena and Antrim AC 90pts

4 Leevale AC 90pts

5 Bandon AC 84pts

6 Meath Athletics AC 72pts

7 Borrisoskane AC 68pts

8 North Down 52.5pts


Tír Chonaill Group enjoy the moment

Eamon has discussion with Brid Golen Ferrybank


Tír Chonaill AC Group with the Cup


Tír Chonaill receive the League cup from Liam Hennessey President Athletics Ireland


Marie Rooney and Brenda Morris enjoy the moment

AAI Link