Braga report by Ronan Gately for the Irish Masters Athletics Association

Masters Gold for Cork runner Michelle Kenny (centre). Photo: Patrick Crossan

Irish Masters Athletes had, by far and away, their best ever European Championships with a total of 59 medals won (previous highest total was 41 from World Indoor Championships in Torun in 2019) by the 87 Irish athletes who competed. This resulted in Team Ireland achieving 7th place on overall medals table – their highest ever ranking (ahead of countries with much larger populations including Poland, Netherlands, Denmark, Austria) out of the 43 countries participating (2361 competitors).

The Irish Team’s medal breakdown was: 24 Gold, 18 Silver and 17 Bronze

The full list of medal winners is on the IMAA website Some truly outstanding individual performances including: Triple Gold in W55 Category for Anne Gilshinan Slaney AC (Wexford), originally from Virginia, Cavan.

800m, 1500m, 3000m Double Gold and 1 Silver, in addition to Gold in 4x200m W40 Relay for Annette Quaid of Leevale (Cork) 400m, 800m, 1500m (Silver)
Double Gold for Denise Toner, Clones AC in 1500m and 3000m.
2 Golds each (Individual and Team) in Cross-Country for Mother and Daughter combination of Eileen Kenny (W70, Mullingar Harriers) and Michelle Kenny (W40, Leevale AC).

Team Ireland’s eldest athletes did not disappoint, with the following medals won in M75
Sean McMullin (Mullingar Harriers, age 75) – Double Gold in 5k Road Walk and 3,000m Track Walk
Evelyn McNelis W75 – Double Silver in Cross Country and 3000m
Michael Kiely (Rising Sun AC, age 77) – Silver in 800m and Bronze in 1500m
Hugh McSweeney (Eagle AC, Cork, age 77) – Silver 400m.

Michael and Hugh (who had last competed in Europe, 31 years ago in Budapest) also won Gold in the 4x200m Relay – dropping down to the M70 category to assist Mick Priest and Matt Slattery achieve this outstanding result, setting a new Irish Record in the process.

Annette Quaid & coach Donie Walsh of Leevale AC

Joe Gough (West Waterford AC, M65), no stranger to World and European podiums, won Gold in 1500m and Bronze in 800m. Paul Forbes from Great Britain had won the 800m and had broken Joe’s 1500m World Record just a few weeks previously, but ultimately Joe’s superb race tactics won the day in an enthralling 1500m race. All the more remarkable as Joe is just a few months shy of his 70th birthday.

Team Ireland entered a total of 7 teams in the 4x200m relays (its highest number of teams ever in sprint relays) and came away with 6 medals in M70 (Gold), M45 (Bronze) and W50 (Gold), W45 (Gold), W40 (Gold) and W35 (Silver).

Special mention to joint Team Managers Anne Gormley and Patrick Crossan who put in a trojan amount of work over the full week of competition. Also to Ian Egan, Physical Therapist, who traveled out at his own expense and tended expertly to all the niggles and injuries of the Irish athletes.

Finally it would be remiss not to acknowledge the generosity of all the Masters athletes from Team Ireland who made a special collection amongst themselves and raised €2,000 cash plus additional gear and clothing which was presented to the Ukrainian Masters athletics team. These athletes from Ukraine are still stuck in Portugal, unable to return home to their partners and children due to the conflict in their country. In a very emotional and poignant presentation the Ukrainian athletes expressed their deep gratitude to all those still present. We can only hope and pray that they can return safely to their families as quickly as possible.

1) Patrick Crossan has a large gallery of photos HERE

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