Grassroots: Club of the week
Ennis track AC
Since it was founded, back in 1991, this progressive club has achieved success at county, provincial and national level.
Ennis Track Athletic Club was founded in O'Keeffe's Bar in Lifford, Ennis, Co Clare, in February 1991. In attendance at the first meeting were Gerry Hayes, Tony Shannon, Anne Shannon, Martina Hayes, John McAllister, Breda McCullough, Mary McAllister, Tom Casey, Breda Butler and Maeve Casey.
Fast-forward 22 years and the club continues to prosper, with its current membership totalling 100 seniors and more than 150 juvenile athletes.
Weekdays are busy for Ennis Track AC athletes and coaches. Juvenile training takes place on Monday and Friday nights, while senior training takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This progressive club caters for track and field and cross-country athletes.
Over the last 22 years Ennis Track AC has achieved great success at county, provincial and national level.
The club's senior women have been well-represented in cross-country, winning the national novice and intermediate cross-country titles and the B section of the inter-clubs within the past five years.
In 2013, the senior women's team won the Munster senior cross-country title and Ennis Track AC has been selected as the 'Best Juvenile Cross-Country Club in Munster' for the past number of years.
To date, 11 Ennis Track AC athletes have represented Ireland at various international championships. They are: Orla Coote, Veronica Colleran, Gerry O'Flaherty, Frankie Garrihy, Mary Dullaghan, Rory Chesser, Maria Carey, Niamh Markham, Kevin Mulcaire, Sean Collins and Liam Markham.
In recent times Ennis Track AC athletes were successful at the Woodie's DIY National Cross-Country Championships in Santry, where Kevin Mulcaire (right) won the U-18 boys' national title -- leading his team to victory. The U-14 boys, led by Aidan McCarthy, also won silver medals. Mulcaire went on to represent Ireland, on the junior men's team, at the European Cross-Country Championships, in Belgrade on December 8.
In the All-Ireland's, held in Waterford on December 15 last, the Ennis Track AC squad, led by Mark Hanrahan, won the U-11 boys' team title. Jamie Roche led his team to take the silver medals in the U-15 boys' championship.
Mulcaire crowned another great day for the club when he won the U-17 boys' title.
The Ennis Track AC women were also well represented in the novice event.
A great club stalwart too is Sean Whelan, who has the rare achievement of having competed in road races in all of the 32 counties.
Now in his 60s, Sean has a marathon personal best time of 2.42 and, over the years, won national championship medals in events organised by three different national associations -- NACAI, BLE and Athletics Ireland -- a pretty unique tally.
This year Ennis Track AC members will continue to participate in competition at all levels.
The Woodie's DIY National Junior Cross-Country Championships team event will be one of the club's big targets for spring 2014.
Ennis Track AC's success is due in no small part to the dedication of its coaches who willingly give of their time, passing their knowledge and love for the sport to the up-and-coming athletes.
There are currently 15 club coaches, with expertise in all areas including sprinting, middle-distance, field events, and cross-country.
For more information, visit www.ennistrackathleticclub.com
President: Gerry Hayes
Chairwoman: Joan Markham
Secretary: Marie Carey
Treasurer: Vera Dullaghan
PRO: Michael O'Brien
Assistant Secretary: Marie Roche