seanTHE cream of Clare athletics gathered in the Auburn Lodge on Friday night last for the annual Clare Athletic Association awards when award winners in all categories and all age groups were presented with mementoes to remember the 2012 season by. Pride of place on the night went to Ennis Track Club member, Sean Whelan (main pic) who was named the overall winner of the awards scheme for 2012 in recognition of his sterling service to Clare athletics over a long number of years.

“He was very deserving of the honour,” James Sexton said on the night, “because of his great service to Clare athletics and his remarkable achievement in 2012 which saw him compete in a race in every county in Ireland”. Speaking to The Clare People, Clare Athletic Association chairman Michael Lillis said that the annual awards scheme that’s now in its 12th year is a very important part of the calendar of events run by the organisation.

“It’s great that we get to honour the athletes who performed so well during the year,” said Mr Lillis, “and there were some great performances during the year at all levels and all grades”. Continuing, Mr Lillis said that Clare athletics has never been as strong, with more athletes than ever taking part in Clare Athletic Association events each year, while he referenced the re-emergence of a number of clubs in the past number of years.

“There are a number of clubs that have revived themselves for the want of a better word. Clubs that weren’t active for a couple of years are back – clubs like Fergus and Olympic Harriers – and they are going well again.

“We would consider ourselves the best in Munster after Cork. There would be 70 clubs in Cork, while we would only have 12 clubs. Cork would be the strongest, but Clare would always be second, while Munster would be the best region in the country and we have a big contribution to that,” he added.

Those honoured at Friday’s ceremony included Keith Whyte who is now ranked European number one and world number two in the 50-mile ultra-running distance, Michael Shannon from Corofin and Sean Hehir from Kilkishen who was the second Irishman home in the 2012 Dublin Marathon and is now gearing up to secure a place on the Irish team for the World Championships in Moscow later this year.

For more see our 8-page pull-out special in The Clare People or visit our Digital Edition.

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