The memories and the moments came flooding back for Catriona McGranaghan last night.
The Castlefin woman became the second female to be inducted into Finn Valley AC’s Hall of Fame.
McGranaghan was a member of a golden generation that spans the generations in any sport in Donegal.
Finn Valley’s women won eight senior cross-country titles in a row from ’93 to ’00 and McGranaghan scored on six of them. In all, she won 12 Irish Cross-Country titles, but her career was about so much more.
A big crowd turned out as Catriona joined Finn Valley legends – such as her father Peadar, a founder member of the club, Patsy McGinley, Neil Martn, Patsy McGonagle, the late John Carlin, Kay Byrne, Pat Hegarty and Mark Connolly – as Hall of Famers.
“It’s a special moment for my family,” Catriona said.
“They’ve been through everything with me. I missed a lot of family events because of my running, but they always understood and supported me.
“I was very fortunate to walk onto the path my family led for me.
“It set me up for life. Athletics was very good for me and discipline was one of the best things I took.
“At a very young age I was competitive. I didn’t always win at juvenile level.
“Coming into junior level I got the hunger for success. Being second and third wasn’t an option any more.”
Kay Byrne scored in all eight of those famous Finn Valley teams and goes back a long way for her memories of the young McGranaghan, at Porter’s Field just behind their home at Hillhead in Castlefin.
“She couldn’t have been more than four or five when she came out of the hedge at her house,” Byrne recalled. “We used to train there with Peadar. We’d be up running around and this wee doll came out with wellingtons on and was a flier then!
“Catriona really deserves it. She has achieved so much and was a fabulous junior athlete. She was way ahead of anything else.
“She was an athlete we had to hold back. She trained with seniors before she was a senior and she would have run ‘til she dropped.”
Finn Valley Chairman Patsy McGonagle praised the longevity of McGranaghan, – now Catriona Devine, married to Thomas Devine and with two young daughters. – who is still competing and setting records at masters level.
McGonagle said: “She’s active but she’s had a long career since she was a wee girl. She’s had the longevity. She was a serious member of a serious team. Even this year, she broke the national masters record at her age group. It was a privilege to work with her. She had the desire and the motivation within herself. She had enduring interest and she wasn’t going to let it go.”