Bud­ding Olympians head for Castle­lyons

Irish Examiner - County - - News - Christy Parker

Up to 1,500 chil­dren will con­verge on St Ni­cholas Ath­letic Club grounds Castle­lyons next Fri­day for the East Cork Ath­letic Divi­sion’s schools cross-coun­try fix­ture.

The event will see races for boys and girls across eight age di­vi­sions aged six to 13.

The pres­ti­gious cham­pi­onships are part of the divi­sion’s an­nual pro­gramme which in­cludes two cross­coun­try races, two track and field events, and a road race. “It’s highly com­pet­i­tive but it’s also a very en­joy­able fam­ily day as well,” says ECAD chair­man Martin Drake. “Kids just love the day, re­gard­less of re­sults.”

This year has the added sig­nif­i­cance of be­ing part of the divi­sion’s 50th an­niver­sary with events mark­ing its found­ing as the East Cork Ath­letic Board in Mi­dle­ton’s scout Hall in 1967.

The ini­tial body com­prised Mi­dle­ton, Youghal, Bal­ly­more and Car­raig na bhFear ath­letic clubs, with vet­er­ans Wil­lie O’Ma­honey (present hon trea­surer) and Dan McCarthy (Life pres­i­dent) be­lieved to be the only sur­viv­ing founders.

In­au­gu­ral ef­forts to host a track and field league fell foul of the foot and mouth epi­demic and most races be­came road events.

The first track and field race even­tu­ally took place in Mi­dle­ton’s cricket field, while Youghal greyhound track fa­cil­i­tated the 1969 track and field cham­pi­onships, where fu­ture Olympic semi-fi­nal­ist Liam O’Brien won the U14 880 yards.

So­nia O’Sul­li­van would be­come an­other fu­ture Olympian to lace her shoes in east Cork com­pe­ti­tion and her daugh­ter So­phie, 15, re­cently fol­lowed in her mother’s foot­steps through the Bal­ly­more-Cobh club.

Hopes are cur­rently high Youghal run­ner Fearghal Curtin will fly the ECAD flag for Ire­land in due course with the 19-year-old run­ner re­cently de­part­ing on a fouryear schol­ar­ship in South Carolina.

Four years ago an an­nual award cer­e­mony for east Cork chil­dren who had won medals at na­tional level saw 47 re­cip­i­ents. “This year we had over 110.”

To help meet in­creased ex­penses from this growth, ECAD will charge €1 per per­son for Fri­day’s event.

Mean­while Glan­bia and Imokilly Oil will con­tinue their sup­port for the schools cross-county cham­pi­onships, which be­gan in 2014.

Also, in an in­au­gu­ral spon­sor­ship deal, AIB’s Youghal branch will host an in­for­ma­tion stand at the races. Branch rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ray Kear­ney says the event meets the bank’s cri­te­ria for “a very wor­thy com­mu­nity cause to sup­port.”

Races start 11am.

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