China gold in St Pat's hands

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

China gold in St Pat's hands thumbnail

SOUTH Armagh side St Pat's Tug-of-war team won gold at the World Indoor TOW Championships in Xuzhou, China, writes Nicola Conway.
It is an amazing, if not surprising achievement and this feat of taking all four World Club Senior Men's titles has only ever been accomplished once before in either the indoor or outdoor codes, and it was in Cork 2002 and it was again by the St Pat's TOW Club. The most any other club has taken is two titles in one World Club Championships, St Pat's have taken all four twice now, and have also taken three of the four on two occasions, in Killarney in 2006 and Volendam in 2016.
St Pats were not finished their Championships after these two days of winning form.
The St Pat's men went on to represent Ireland in three weights - the 560kg, the 600kg and the 640kg, and took gold in the 560kg, bronze in the 600kg and a very close fourth in the 640kg. They were the toast of the World Championships and have again proven themselves to be the top tug-of-war club in the World by a clear margin.
The squad of 14 pullers along with Coach Hugh Mór Conway set off on the Sunday before the World Championships to make the long and arduous journey to China, along with the support crew of Leo Conway, Brian McLoughlin and Kathleen Griffin. After travelling for a day and 6000 miles, the St Pat's men had weight-loss to go through on Monday and Tuesday before their weigh-in on Wednesday morning. All the weight goals were made and then teams submitted in preparation for the first two days of International competition, the World Club Championships.
The structure of all TWIF international events is two days of world club championships and then two days of international championships. The exact same weights are contested in both. There were over 100 Clubs from 20 Nations at these World Championships.
First up for St Pat's on Day One of the Championships was the Senior Men's 560kg. There were two groups of six in this competition, with the top two teams from each group going through to the semi-finals, which St Pat's did. The final was a quick affair, as St Pat's powered through Da Benniu two straight ends to take the first victory of the championships, the World Club 560kg - the title they had stolen from them at the previous worlds and so a very sweet victory to open their World Championships with.
The St Pat's 560kg team was Gary Conway, Hugh Óg Conway, Seán Conway, Michael Owen McGreehan, Liam Fitzpatrick, Gerald Porter, Tommy Griffin and PJ Griffin, coached by Hugh Mór Conway.
There was no rest for the St. Pats squad as the World Club 640kg Championships was called straight away. Four of the 560kg men were on this team also; Gary Conway, Hugh Óg Conway, Seán Conway and Michael Owen McGreehan, joined by Martin Shields, Warren Conway, Declan Griffin and Ciarán Fitzpatrick.
There was one group of 11 in the 640kg, so a very long competition for St Pat's, as there were 10 pulls in the group section. The group section is run on a round-robin basis, with each team competing against every other team in the group.
St Pat's proved progressed easily through to the final, where they met the Chinese team Angangshiye. The Irish men put on a demonstration of tug of war skill in their second final of the day and took the Chinese team across the line two straight ends to retain their title of World Club 640kg Champions.
Day Two of the Championship saw two more World Club Men's Senior titles up for contention - the 600kg and the 680kg. The St Pats teams for both these weights had again as their core Gary Conway, Hugh Óg Conway, Seán Conway and Michael Owen McGreehan.
The 600kg was up first and St Pat's set up a final against Tinto Farmers from Scotland. Scotland is one of the top Indoor TOW nations, and so St Pat's knew that this may well be the toughest challenge they had faced in the Championships.
Despite a very strong opposition from Tinto, St Pat's again proved to be a step above, and to the increasing amazement of the spectators, both present in China and across the globe via live-streaming, St Pat's took their third gold and World title of the Championship. The St Pat's 640kg team was Gary Conway, Hugh Óg Conway, Seán Conway, Michael Owen McGreehan, Martin Shields, Tom Griffin, Declan Griffin & PJ Griffin and coached by Hugh Mór Conway.
The last competition of Day Two and of the World Club Championships was the Men's 680kg. This was contested in one group and so, as with the 640kg the previous day, it was the top four teams who progressed through to the semi-finals. St Pat's progressed to the last final of the World Club Cha


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