Lifestyle Health

Monday 20 November 2017

Grassroots Club of the Week

Carraig na bhFear AC

Members of all ages at Carraig na bhFear AC in Cork
Members of all ages at Carraig na bhFear AC in Cork
Carraig na bhFear athletes Nessa Wheeler and Bláthnaid Daly, along with Lucy O’Keeffe (centre) from Youghal, proudly display their East Cork medals

John Walshe

The village of Carraig na bhFear (also spelt Carrignavar) lies around six miles north of Cork city. An area steeped in athletics, the current athletic club has been in existence since September 1980.

Over the three decades, Carraig na bhFear AC has produced many fine athletes, including Michelle Murphy, Valerie Lynch and Patricia Dorgan, who all acquired US athletic scholarships.

Murphy -- now Scott -- is the distance coach at her alma mater, Western Kentucky University, while another athlete who started off as a juvenile with the club is Brian MacMahon, who now runs with Clonliffe.

A boom in membership in recent years shows Carraig na bhFear with a total of 238 registered members, which includes 175 juveniles.

Success has come the way this past summer with three national track and field medals being won by James Sheehan (U-16 discus gold), Maebh Daly (U-14 javelin silver) and Avril Braham (U-15 multi-events bronze).

"At the Munster Cross-Country, our girls' U-19 team came first and our boys' U-19 team were second, and both our boys' and girls' junior teams came second in the county championships, with Jamie Buckley winning the individual title, and it was great to be able to field teams in these races this season," explained club secretary Michael Daly.

Carraig na bhFear won the Jerry Russell Trophy for best overall boys club in this year's East Cork Cross-Country Championships and had 17 athletes qualifying for the recent national uneven age-group deciders at Waterford.

The club has been served by many dedicated officers over its 34 years, including current chairperson Noreen Murphy, who held the same position with Cork County Board in recent times.

Ger Foley, like Murphy, has also been active in many roles, especially in the design and layout of cross-country courses.

"Since its foundation, the club has held numerous championships at all levels and it is a testament to the great support received from local farmers that 15 different venues have been used to host these," says Foley.

The club hosted the National Juvenile Cross-Country Championships in 1991 and the Junior and Senior Inter-county Cross-Country in 1999, along with the National Intermediate and Masters' Championships in 2006.

It is lucky to have the facilities (including a gym) of Sacred Heart College for training on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and in preparation for the summer season, one night a week is spent on the outdoor track at the Cork IT Stadium.

As with many clubs, there has been a recent upsurge in adult members, especially women who got involved through the Fit4Life initiative, and has gone on to win the Cork Novice 'B' cross-country title.

"A lot of the adults are parents of the young athletes and they have brought a new lease of life into the club," says Foley.

"They all come to training as a family and they all get to run at the same time. It's probably the one thing athletics has got over other sports and for us it's a great selling point."


President: Teddy O'Sullivan
Chairperson: Noreen Murphy
ecretary: Michael Daly
Treasurer: Philip Coffey

Irish Independent

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