Secretaries Report to A.G.M.

Secretaries Report to A.G.M. of West Waterford A.C on Thursday 12th December 2019.

As we reach the end of another busy and eventful year we pause for a moment to take a look back at the different strands of our club, Road, Track and Field, Cross Country and Training and Development. Road is probably the main focus for our members so we will begin there.
Road Racing and Fundraising
Over the course of the past year West Waterford A.C. has hosted in all approx. 55 events these have included:
2019 2018 Dif.
A 13 night Forde’s Daybreak Winter League Total No. Runners 3,139 2,819 +320
A 5 race Michael Roche Series Total No. Runners 764 747 +17
A 5 night Mason Mortgages League in Colligan Total No Runners 404 330 +74
A 6 night Minnie’s League in the Friary College Total No. Runners 200 231 -31
A 12 race Intersport Elvery’s/ Asics Summer Series Total No. Runners 2,411 2,245 +166
A 5 night Garvey’s Autumn League Total No. Runners 157 158 -1
John Treacy Dungarvan 10 Mile Road Race No of Finishers 2,425 2,207 +218
The Eurofins Greenway Half Marathon No of Finishers 636 596 +40
Total Increase in Participation 803
Our 2 Flagship races and main fundraising events are the John Treacy Dungarvan 10 and The Greenway Half Marathon and between them they helped to provide funding for our athletes competing in Munster, National and International level as they represent our club at these different stages.
We have also facilitated many other races during the year by bringing along the timing clock and taking entries and doing up results etc. Many of these races including the Aglish Fun Run, Kilmac 10k, Eilish Ni hAodh, Piltown 5k and the St. Stephens Day Jolly Jaunt raise vital funds for local charities.
As you can see from the above figures almost all events showed an increase this year which is very encouraging, we are above all a participation focused club and an increase in numbers in our events is a positive going forward. However this year the numbers in the Friary Leagues were again disappointing and perhaps they need to be looked at. For so long a great starting point for beginners these seem to have lost their appeal to many of our regular runners for some reason.

Many of the above events had a fundraising element which brought much wanted funds to local/national charities, schools and Community groups.

Some of those involved included
St John’s Special School €1,200 Charity Night Winter League 2018/19
Dane Power Rehabilation Fund €5,457 St Stephens Day/Dungarvan G.A.A. Club
Alzheimer Society €5,000 Chosen Charity 10 Mile
Coronery Care Unit UHW €4,110 GSK 5 Mile (€2,040 race entries)
Deise Day Care Centre €2,000 Eurofins Greenway Half Marathon
Palliative Care Unit Dungarvan Hospital €3,810 Paddy Joe Curran Turkey Trot 2019
Total Raised Directly €21,577

Indirectly many other local charities/communities benefited, including: Special Olympics Kilmacthomas, Ballinroad Hall, Ballinameela Community Centre and G.A.A. Club, Touraneena School, Ballyduff Lower Community Hall, Glenbeg School, Butlerstown G.A.A. Club and Focus Ireland.

In 2019 Ted O’Leary joined Paul Brunnock, Mick Concannon and Terri Gough in the 100 Marathon Club and indeed Terri moved ahead of the boys as this year she entered the 200 Marathon Club. Well done to all and continued good health and running.

In August at the World 50K Championships held in Romania Raivis Zakis representing his native Latvia finished in 46th place and first home for his country on the day.
We would also like to congratulate Terri Gough who took a gold medal in the National Marathon Championships in Dublin when she moved into the new O/75 category in a time of 6.21.02.

Cross Country

Traditionally a club with a strong pedigree of Cross Country runners we have perhaps not been as active on this scene as we would have been in the past. Cross Country running is not for the feint hearted and perhaps this is the reason many of us prefer the road. Nevertheless the juvenile club continues to support and develop young athletes who are performing well on a national stage and hopefully this will in time feed through to the senior club.

Micheál Power continues to be a strong force in Cross Country and he was rewarded last December with selection on the Irish U/20 team for the European Championships held in Tilbert, The Netherlands where he finished in 60th position and 4th Irish scorer on a team that finished in 6th position.
For the past 25 years we have held a very strong Cross Country Race in the Friary College in October to get the season underway. We have been supported by the Hughes family who have generously donated the James Hughes perpetual trophy for the winner. The race also incorporated the Waterford Senior and Junior Championships for 2019. This is always a well contested race and David Mc Glynn (Waterford A.C.) a very talented young athlete took gold here with Ruth Fitzgerald also Waterford A.C. taking the ladies title. In the Junior race Cian O’Riordan won a gold medal while our senior Men’s team of Pat Hennessy, Damien Murphy and Gary Cantwell took bronze medals.

Diana Chizhikova was our only medallist at the County Novice Championships which were dominated by Waterford A.C. Well done Diana on winning a bronze medal here.
At the County Masters Johnny O’Connor and Joe Gough took gold and silver medals respectively and along with Ray Hahesy they took team gold. Nicola Moroney took second place in the Ladies race with Diana Chizhikova finishing in 3rd place.

At the Munster Masters held in Beaufort Co Kerry We fielded a very strong O/50 men’s team of Joe Salmon, Johnny O’Connor and Joe Gough and while Joe Gough took an individual gold in the O/65 (his second in a row individual Munster Cross Country medal) all 3 combined with Paschal Halley to win county bronze medals which was a great achievement.

At the All Ireland Senior Cross Country In Abbotstown in November Lucy Holmes finished in an excellent 6th place in the U/18 race, this race in ran in conjunction with the Junior race where Lucy finished 13th and helped Waterford to win gold in the County competition. Lucy also took the Munster U/19 and Junior title at the Conna venue in November.
Finally for 2019 we finished on a real high note as Pat Hennessy was crowned Munster Intermediate Cross Country Champion taking victory from a large field in the event held in 2 Mile Borris Co Tipperary. In September Pat won the Greenway Half Marathon and also the Stook 10 Mile so all in all a great year for Pat.

Track & Field

Once again this year has was a very busy one in Track & Field and we begin by congratulating all our medalists and participants during the year and commend them all on their continued successes.

We go back to December of 2018 where Kate Veale took a god medal in the National 20k Walk in 1.37.54 which qualified Kate for the World University Games and also the European Cup of Race-walking. Kate also took part in a graded Indoor Meet in Slovenia in January where she came a creditable 4th in a strong field.

Also in January Joe Gough was announced as the recipient of the European Male Master Athlete of the Year which was a huge honour for Joe and richly deserved after a great season. Joe followed this with the World Master Athlete award and in honour of this Joe was awarded Honorary Life Membership of West Waterford Athletic Club.

At the AAI Games in February in Abbotstown Kate won the 3,000m walk while John White took 2nd place in the Mens event. Lisa Houlihan won a bronze medal in the Pole Vault while Micheal Power, Aisling O’Regan and Rachel Power competed and got some valuable experience on the day.
At the Munster Senior Indoors Kate retained her 3,000m walk title in 13.57 and at the National Senior Indoors she did likewise in 13.18 recording her fastest time in 3 years and added this to the National University title which she had won just 2 days previously.

At the Munster Masters Indoors Terri Gough took 4 gold medals in the O/70 category in 60,200 and 400m and the Shot while Gregory Fitzgerald won bronze in the O/45 200 and 400m. Padraig Barron and Johnny O’Connor also competed on the day.

In March at the National Masters Indoors John White won the O/45 Men’s Walk title while Joe Gough took gold in the O/65 800m with Greg just outside the medals in the 200m. March concluded for Joe in Torun Poland at the World Indoor Masters when he added 2 more gold medals in the 800 and 1,500m bringing Joe’s number of World Gold Medals to 7 and in the process Joe also broke the O/65 1,500m by 14 seconds.

In June at the Munster Junior, Senior, Under 23 and Masters Outdoor Track & Field in Templemore Ciaran Beunaventura took a silver medal in the Junior High Jump while Greg Fitzgerald won 2 silver medals in the O/45 100 and 200m. Also competing here was Michael Tutty who took home a silver medal in the O/55 Javelin.

At the AAI Games in Santry Lisa Houlihan and Rachel Power were successful in the the High Jump and Shot respectively. Despite being hampered by injury Kate Veale was determined to represent her country at the World University Games in Napoli in July and this she did when finishing in a creditable 20th place in 1.54.38. Also in June Micheál Power was in Sweden competing in the European U/23 5,000m and in a tactical race he finished in 17th place and first Irishman home.
Waterford County had a great year in the National Leagues and West Waterford were well represented on both the Men’s and Ladies teams and also had John Mc Grath (Waterford County Board Chairperson) on board as a selector. Zoe Scanlon, Lisa Houlihan and Lucy Holmes won team gold while on the men’s team we had Patrick Fitzgerald, John White and Gary Cantwell and they won silver medals. We were also represented at the National Senior Championships by Lisa in the Pole-Vault where she came 6th and Greg Fitzgerald who competed in the Men’s 200 heats.

In August at the National Masters in Tullamore once again Terri Gough was majestic taking gold in the O/70 100m, shot and hammer and silver in the 200. Joe Gough won 2 gold medals in the O/65 200 and 400 and also competing here were Gregory Fitzgerald in the 200, Michael Tutty in the Javelin and Yevegeniy Chizhikov in the 800m.
In September at the European Masters held in Venice Joe once again took home 2 gold medals in the 1,500 (4.54.14) and 800m (2.20.73). This means Joe is unbeaten since 2008 in the 800m in Europe and he has broken European and World records for the distance in the last 2 years as well.
We conclude the Track and Field section of our report this year as we began with Kate retaining her National 20k Walk title and breaking her own personal best by clocking 1.37.52. Kate is now part of a group of super athletes training out of Cork where they meet weekly for training sessions together under the tutelage of Rob Heffernan. Kate is the only female but her ambition is set as she strives firstly to be part of the Irish team for the World cup in Minsk, Balarus in May and also there’s also an Olympic year on the horizon with Tokyo next summer. The bar is high but Kate will do all in her power to get there and we wish her well in her attempt.

Training and Development

Training and Development has become one of the most important initiatives undertaken by our club in recent years. Under the guidance of Irene Clarke our club coach and assisted by Jim Fleming and Claire Kennedy they have had a very busy year and listed below are some of their events.
The first goal race of the year for our main training group was the John Treacy 10 mile race at the start of February. There were some excellent performances from many athletes which set them up nicely for the year ahead.

Our ‘Run to Improve’ programme continued in the spring under the leadership of Claire Kennedy & Jim Fleming. This has been very popular with the graduates of the ‘Lets Run’ program and has assisted many athletes by giving them a stepping stone to the next level whether that is increasing their 5k time to increasing the distance that they wish to compete at. All the athletes within this group competed at many of the summer series of races with a 100% success rate in improving their times. Many of the athletes took part in the Eurofins Greenway Half Marathon for the first time.

We have been very fortunate that so many athletes have supported our training groups since it was set up in 2015. Club membership has benefitted from this and has increased by 42% over the last few years from 234 in 2014 to over 320 in the last few years. With so many initiatives within the club we have been able to maintain and increase this membership.
In the spring we launched our 2nd ‘Club on the move’ group. This is an initiative where we teamed up with Dungarvan GAA club who identified the need for more active participation from ex-players / coaches / committee members/ parents who are actively involved in the club but rarely get the chance to improve their own fitness as they are busy training others. At the end of the programme all athletes within the groups participated in the Clashmore 5k.

As part of our ongoing Summer Series Training we continued the One Mile Challenge over the summer months was once again enjoyed by athletes of all level and abilities. For the 3rd year in a row Dzinters Klava was the fastest male clocking 4.46 on the second night. Natalie Sheehan improved her time by 23 secs from the first night to the last night running a very swift 5.23 to take the title of fastest female.

The most improved female was Deirdre Clancy who marked her recent retirement in style improving by 49 secs. Well back on the road from injury Yev Chizikov improved by 26 secs going from 5.58 on the first night to 5.32 on the last night.
As sure as night follows day Summer Series training is followed by specific Marathon Preparation. This year the majority of our athletes competed in the Dublin City Marathon many recording excellent times and improving their PB’s. As in the past we had many athletes step up to the marathon distance for the first time and we were delighted to see their progress over the marathon training programme culminating in great times ran by all on the day. Post Dublin and other marathons undertaken by our members we have once again offered runner specific Strength and Conditioning Classes and as usual they have high numbers participating over the winter months.

Autumn also sees the start of our JT10 Mile training programmes and this year was no different. Our ‘Run to improve’ group progressed so well that they are now in training for their second 10 mile race. They have come a long since their first 5k and we wish them well as they head into the final weeks of preparation.

The Brickey 5k was the target race for our new Social Running Group. This has been established for ladies only who wish to run for fitness and health. 38 ladies completed the Brickey 5k and 28 have gone on to participate in the Winter league. This group will continue throughout the winter and is growing in strength and numbers as time goes on.

As a club we have tried to improve and update and in doing so we decided to change the Club Van. The old van needed a lot of work so it was decided to invest in a new bigger van which should last for many years to come. We also updated our club gear with new singlets/tshirts/shorts and Club Half Zips. A lot of thought and effort went into this and I would like to thank club members Mark Cliffe, Kevin Casey, Karen Ryan and James Veale for all their efforts. Going green is also an ambition for the club going forward and recycling number and pins is only the beginning. We have to try and cut down on our waste and we look forward to any club members suggestions that they may have. Indeed if any members have any ideas that they feel about the running of our club please come forward, we are only officers, the members set the agenda and we are always willing to listen.

Finally I would like to conclude my report by thanking as always my fellow officers for their help and support over the year and in particular to Shirley as assistant secretary and also Ray Burke perhaps the most vital club officer who is invaluable to us all. Thanks as always to our outdoor staff of Conor, Jamie and John without whom we just could not hold our races. Thanks to our loyal band of stewards and sponsors who have supported us over many years, we are extremely grateful and of course to St Augustine’s College for the ongoing use of their facilities and finally I would like to wish the incoming committee well in the year ahead and wish everyone a peaceful and happy Christmas and an injury free 2020.

Ann Dunford

Secretary West Waterford A.C.