The AAI Congress finally took place at the weekend with mixed results for Donegal Athletes, the positions of President and the Chairs of the five principal committees were all unopposed so the excitement was reserved for the elections to the five Committees, with the Competition committee the most fiercely contested. The new President will be John Cronin a native of Downings who has been resident in Tullamore for many years. Michael Quinlan from Bandon returns as Chair of Finance and Risk after an absence of over ten years, Brid Golden from Waterford was returned unopposed as Chair of Coaching and Development, and she was also elected as Deputy President, Fintan Reilly from Louth takes over as Chair of High performance, Evelyn O’ Reilly from Cavan was unopposed and duly takes over as Chair of the Juvenile Committee and Andrew Lynam from Meath is the new Chair of Competition. There was no election for either the Finance and Risk committee or the High Performance committees so Theresa Mc Daid and Eamon Harvey will both be members of the High Performance Committee for the next two years.  

Eamon Harvey, a former Chair of Coaching and Development topped the poll for the Coaching and Development Committee, but Theresa Mc Daid was unlucky here and missed out on election. In the election for the Competition Committee Paddy Marley topped the poll and Brendan Mc Daid and Bernie O’ Callaghan were also both elected. The five members elected here are made up of three former Chairs of Competition and two former secretaries of the Committee, Bernie O’ Callaghan who was first elected to the committee in 1977 served as committee secretary for four years.

Tom Thompson just missed out in the election for the Juvenile Committee, but his strong showing marks him our as a name for the future.

The Congress was adjourned before the debate on the motions due to a technical problem, and the likelihood is that it will be re-convened on Saturday week May 8th.  

Cheshire Marathon

Anne Marie Mc Glynn, Letterkenny AC took part in the Cheshire Elite Marathon on Sunday seeking an elusive Olympic qualifying time of 2.29.30 and came agonisingly close recording a personal best performance of 2.29.34. Everything seemed to be in place for Anne Marie to qualify but her dream was shattered by a toilet stop during the latter stages of the race. The race was won by Aoife Cooke from Eagle Athletic Club in Cork who recorded 2.28.30 improving on her personal best by over four minutes, but most importantly booking her place on the plane for Tokyo with Fionnuala Mc Cormack. One can only hope that Anne Marie will receive a sympathetic hearing from the selectors and will join the other two girls in Tokyo.   

Our young athletes have returned to the clubs since last Monday and training has resumed with pods of 15 which includes the coaches. Much has been stated over the pandemic that these young people were lost to sport forever however the opposite seems to be the case with athletes flocking back to the clubs, all looking forward to the next step which is the return to competition.                                    


A discussion between Eamon Giles and a work colleague one evening in 1960 had dramatic and long reaching results not just for Eamon but for Donegal in general and Cranford in particular. His friend asked him to come down to the local Hornsey Athletic Club for a bit of crack. Hornsey AC located in North London was set up in 1904 and catered for athletes from areas like Camden Town, Tottenham and Kentish Town. In 1972 it amalgamated with three other clubs to form London Heathside AC.  Eamon joined the club and started a lifelong love affair with athletics. So much so that he returned home in 1961 determined to set up an athletic club in his native Parish. Because there was no County Board Cranford registered directly with The Ulster Council of the NACA, which was the Association that over 90% of the athletes in the country belonged to at the time.

In the early days the local population thought that they were all crazy, athletes like Paddy Marley, Hugo Duggan, the Hunter brothers and Sean Mc Bride were soon proudly wearing the red and white singlet at sports meetings throughout the county.

The members of the new club were all united by one common ambition they were all hungry for success and determined to do whatever it took to achieve this, and with the War Memorial Trophy and Dalton Shield under their belts they set their sights on what was the big one at the time the Ulster Senior Cross-Country Championship. The Oak Leaf club in Derry were the undisputed kings of Ulster cross-country at the time, so Cranford invited them to a race in Cranford Park on St Stephen’s day 1963. The race was won by Oak Leaf but the Cranford lads now knew the gulf that they had to cross to become Ulster senior champions. Victory the following year in the Ulster Junior Cross-country championship saw the War Memorial Trophy rest on the shore of Mulroy Bay for the first time. 1965 also saw the Dalton Shield come to Cranford for the first time. The Cardinal Dalton Games were sponsored by Armagh City Harriers and the events were open to all of Ulster and Meath and Louth as well, the medals were solid silver and were very much sought after, the Dalton Shield was awarded to the club who gained the most points on the day, so Cranford were making their presence felt after such a short time.

1966 was a year of much achievement for the club it was the year that they became Ulster Senior Cross-County Champions and also Hugo Duggan made the big breakthrough at national level by winning the NACA Junior 200m and Long Jump at the Championships in the which were held in the Iveagh Grounds in Dublin. That year also saw some new recruits to the club, P.J. O’ Carlin, from Raphoe, Danny Neily and Frankie Mc Daid from Glenswilly, Jim Boyle from Portnoo and Loughlin Mc Gill from Ardara all joined the club all of these were to make a major contribution over the next few years.


In 1967 The NACA and AAU amalgamated to form BLE and opened up the prospect of international competition for so many athletes over all the country. When the first BLE Championships were held in Santry and Hugo Dugan became the first BLE Long Jump champion with a jump of 6.82m. A month later he became the first person resident in Donegal to be selected for an Irish International Athletics team. This was the first of seven national senior long Jump titles for Hugo.

Danny Mc Daid was the next Cranford athlete to win a national senior title when he won the BLE senior two mile championships in Drogheda in 1968 and Hugo Duggan was third in the BLE long Jump

In 1969 Hugo was silver medalist in the National Long Jump and Danny Mc Daid was selected for the first of his nine International cross-country championships in the International Cross-Country Championship in Madrid, Hugo was once again selected for Ireland and Paddy Marley was selected for the International match with Switzerland in Santry, a great representation for a small rural club with three club members selected to Represent Ireland in the one year.

In the Ulster Championships Cranford won the Senior Cross-Country Championships and also dominated the Track and Field Championships, Eamon Giles, John Carlin, Danny Mc Daid, Neily Mc Daid and Paddy Marley all won titles and cemented their position as the top club in Ulster. Joe Mc Grath from Glenties joined the club and really made the Cranford sprint relay into a team that could match any team in the country.

Also that year athletics clubs were formed in Killybegs, Lifford and Glenties and the four clubs came together in Logue’s Bar in Cranford on Sunday December 9th to form a county Board. Cranford were well represented on the committee with P. J. O Carlin elected Chairman, Eamon Giles elected vice Chairman and patsy Mc Gonagle elected secretary and Ulster Delegate, Ben o’ Donnell Lifford was elected Treasurer and Bernie O’ Callaghan Killybegs was elected PRO.  

In 1970 Danny Mc Daid won the first of his four National Marathon titles when he was victorious at the national Championships in Ballinamore, he was second in the 15 mile championship and on the track he was second in the 10,000m, and Hugo won the Long Jump.

The problem here is how do you do justice to a club that has been an integral part of Donegal and Ulster athletics for sixth years so I will try to summarise as best I can Hugo Duggan, Paddy Marley have represented Ireland at track and field and Danny Mc Daid have represented Ireland at track and field and cross-country. Hugo has won seven national long jump titles and Danny has been selected for the Irish Cross-Country team on nine occasions and has competed in two Olympic Games. Bridie Trearty was selected for the Irish team for the world Military Championships and won an individual bronze medal

As well as numerous individual Ulster titles Cranford have won the Ulster senior men’s cross-country team title on eight occasions and the women’s team title twice. The Ulster 4 x 100m title four times and the 4 x 400m title once. And athletes like Rose Gavaghan, Bridie Trearty, Joe Boyce, Claire Giles Dymphna Gallagher Oisin Kelly, Orla Giles and Miah Fletcher have all brought glory to the individually and as club as members of Cranford and county teams. These day Eamon is assisted by Ernie Mc Elhinney, Shauna Giles, Rose Gavaghan, Gerry Gallagher, Claire Giles and Dymphna Gallagher

What do you say about someone who has organised coached, motivated and guided the club for sixty years? Eamon Giles has been all of these and a very accomplished athlete as well and I am happy to report that his contribution to Athletics has been recognised not just in Donegal and Ulster but at national level.

He is a Life Vice President of Athletics Ireland, an honour normally reserved for retiring national Presidents and one of only four Life Vice presidents of Donegal Athletics. He was selected on the Donegal Athletics Team of the Millennium and has been inducted into the Donegal Athletics Hall of Fame and the Ulster Athletics Hall of Fame



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