South Kerry plays host to memorable day's cross-country athletics

Killarney Valley Athletics Club came away with the Patrick O’Shea Memorial Cup as the best visiting team at the inaugural Iveragh AC-hosted Open Cross Country Competition, but that was only part of the story for the host outfit.

Iveragh AC arranged 22 races for 140-plus athletes, aged four to 16, and this was exactly the kind of impressive showcase the club had aimed for. PRO Moira Ní Chonchúir explained that everyone at Iveragh wanted to show the young members that their club is just as capable of putting on a spectacular show as anyone else, while also promoting the great sport of athletics and physical wellbeing in general.

“We’re hoping to build a profile for it, but it was a great turnout, and the weather was fantastic…We hope that we can build on it and that it can become a strong annual event,” she told The Kerryman. “But what we wanted to do was highlight how important activity is, how important athletics and fitness are. As well as that, we travel a long way for all our events, and we wanted our children to realise our club could host something equally as successful. “A lot of the coaches we have now are past members, and when they were young, they ran cross country and have fond memories of it, so we want to instil that sense of pride in the young members, who will carry the torch into future.”

Iveragh is best known for its cross-country tradition, but the club is a mixed bag of the best kind at the moment.

For example, two volunteers, Audrey and Lisa, take children from as young as Junior Infants on 40-minute training sessions, providing a fun, relaxed grounding in athletics at a young age. There’s also the beach run every Sunday morning, from 10 o’clock, in Ballinskelligs, and this is an option open to everyone, members and non-members alike.

As for the day’s competitions, there was an especially poignant moment when Killarney Valley’s Connie Lynch accepted the O’Shea cup – named in honour of a man who competed alongside Connie on the cross-country circuit.

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