Tir Chonaill Open Invitational a Huge Success



Easter Monday, 2011, will go into the clubs history books as the day that a new batch of records, were achieved. Over five hundred competitors, from across the country, twice as many supporters and spectators, seventy officials, outstanding athletic performances, clockwork like organisation and temperatures in the twenties ensured that it was a memorable and enjoyable occasion for all fortunate to be in attendance at the clubs impressive venue in Donegal Town.



The opening disciplines of Hammer and Pole Vault, timetabled for 9am and 10am starts did not disappoint. International Rachael Akers, Marian/Clare, warmed up the day with a series of 50metres plus throws. Ian Rogers, Clonliffe/Dublin, had an even larger appreciative audience as he vaulted between 4 and 5 metres. Local club 17 year old Christopher Doherty, also can be mighty pleased of his 3.90m vault – a new PB and went very close to four metres. As the programme extended out with sprint [heats], two high jump, two long jump and two shot competitions running concurrently, MC Paul O’Neill, was kept busy informing the huge audience of developments.


In the Shot circle Andrew Doyle, Mid Ulster, pushed the 6k implement out to 16.18m, a new Northern Ireland U20 record for the recent British Indoor title holder. John Kelly Finn Valley, Thomas McGowan, Tir Chonaill, and Ciara Herron, Nth Sligo, all Irish age group champions were equalled impressive in winning their age group catagories. The Long Jump competitions, had the largest field event number of competitors. Mary McLoone, Tir Chonaill, graced the proceedings with an excellent best of 5.85m while Ciaran Dolan, St Michaels, Enniskillen, led a batch of high class age group performances and a best of 6.65m. The two high jump aprons had a number of spectacular competitions. Barry Quigg form the Sliabh Liag club continuously jumps 15 cm over his own height. He narrowly missed 1.92m when winning the U19 competition.


The sprints and hurdles were heavily subscribed with all age groups having heats to qualify for the finals – the girls Under 13 had ten heats. The electronic timing specialists had a busy day with hundredths of a second often separating final qualifiers and indeed medal winners. Local club athletes to impress included Kelly McGrory, winner of the U 17100m and 80m Hurdles, Kate McGowan winner of the U15 Hurldes, Louise Harvey U19 100m Hurdles winner, and Christopher O’Loughlan, 2nd U15 Hurldes.


Karl Griffin, returned on Friday night from a spell of warm weather training, with the Irish team, in the Algarve. He tested his speed and won his heat of the 100m and posted a 11.69secs for 4th in the final. The middle distance and walks disciplines – many ran as time trials because of the large entry – also had numerous club athletes impressing. Mark McGuiness, U17 800m, Paul Ward, Masters 800m and Mark Hegarty, U15 800m were most impressive in winning their respective disciplines.


The event had numerous, unexpected and welcome visitors. Double Olympian Maeve Kyle [the first Irish women to compete in the Olympics] and husband Sean dropped in for a few minutes and stayed three hours. Maeve reminded us of her visit to Donegal Town, at the invitation of the late Michael Cooney, in the 1960’s to coach sprints and hurdles in the local St John Bosco Athletics Club.


Bridie Lynch, prepared for her 1996 Atlanta Olympics Gold medal perfomance on the site of the current facility. Presenting prizes she reminded the recipients that the presentation podium was exactly in the spot where she landed hundreds of discus throws during 1995 and 1996. Athletics Northern Ireland President John Glover and wife Liz looked after the electronic timing and results service – a service that found complete results of the meeting being posted to various media within minutes of the final hurdles final.



A successful meeting, of this magnitude, demands a lot of planning, hard work and a large group of people working as a team. The club owes a debt of thanks to all from within the club – numbering up to one hundred – to club friends and supporters, to the officials , many from neighbouring clubs and from outside the county and to a very generous sponsor Bio Insulate Ltd., Director Gregory Mc Grory.


Pics by Tír Chonaill AC