Brendan Boyce launches Finn Valley AC jubilee schools programme

Patsy McGonagle, Brendan Boyce and Dermot McGranaghan.

Finn Valley AC’s jubilee year school’s programme was launched this week by three-time Olympian Brendan Boyce.

Schools' athletics has been a part of the Finn Valley AC fabric since the early 1970s.

As the sport continues its return to normality following the Covid-19 shutdown, Finn Valley AC race walker Boyce launched a new and improved schools programme, which will be led out by Dermot McGranaghan.

The programme kicks off with the primary and secondary schools cross-country events to be held from September 21-23.

The programme also included sports hall athletics, fastest feet, track and field and little athletics.

This year, as Finn Valley AC celebrates its 50th anniversary, special medallions will be awarded to class groups who undertake the active schools' run—jog-walk challenge. Children will complete just over 1km/1mile a day over an agreed period.

“The schools' programme is all about participation and opportunity,” Boyce, who finished 10th in the men’s 50km race walk at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, said.

“Activity and sport needs structure and it’s great to see Finn Valley pushing this and leading it out.

“It’s very important for schools to engage, especially at the minute with motivation, maybe, hard to find. Schools are where kids spend a large portion of their week so it’s vital that the encouragement comes from there.”

Finn Valley AC schools lead Dermot McGranaghan said: “The emphasis is on schools engagement and schools development.

“Development through schools is where it begins. Finn Valley AC has a long history of school sports and so many athletes have come through that system.

“My role here is to keep that legacy going. It’s so important to keep schools and teachers engaged. It’s something I talk about a lot at a national level - and it’s something we are leading the way on in Donegal.”

Finn Valley AC Chairperson and former Irish Olympic Team Manager Patsy McGonagle began structured schools' athletics competitions in the 1970s.

He said: “We are building on the tradition of the last 50 years and laying the foundations for the next 50 at the club. Many young, developing athletes have taken their first steps in athletics through schools' programmes and it’s something we are keen to continue.

“Finn Valley AC is celebrating 50 years and schools' athletics has been ongoing at the same time. Last year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, was the one interruption in an otherwise unbroken sequence.

“Finn Valley AC has given support to schools over a long number of years, continuing from the early days when we held school sports at Sean MacCumhaill Park.”