Navan Athletic Club this month celebrates its 45th anniversary, but the roots of the club go back to the 1940s.
During that era the members of the St Mary's club formed as the De La Salle Club and steady progress was maintained until the current club, Navan AC was established in 1973 with late John Murtagh elected as the first chairman.
The late Robbie Byrne and the late Rita Brady were key members of the newly-formed club and both made significant contributions to sustaining the club and development work.
The aim of the club was to provide facilities for juvenile, junior and senior athletes in Navan and training took place at a number of venues that included Navan O’Mahonys and Pairc Tailteann every Tuesday and Friday night.
The hard-working committee continued efforts to source training facilities and develop a clubhouse and from those endeavours, the current home of Navan AC, Claremont Stadium was established.
The development of Claremont Stadium was a joint-initiative between Parkvilla Football Club, established in 1966, and Navan AC that kicked-off in 1978.
The purchase of a six-acre site on the Commons Road was sanctioned and the facility became known as Claremont Stadium.
A voluntary committee made up of representatives of Navan Athletic Club and Parkvilla Football Club has developed Claremont Stadium in the intervening 45 years.
The members of the Central Committee have jointly-owned, managed and developed the stadium since it opened in 1981.
"After a number of years, it became clear that Navan was in need of modern sporting facilities," stated Navan AC chairperson Mary Watters.
"The government recognised that Claremont Stadium was a prime sporting location and in 1994 allocated £300,000 lottery funding towards an indoor athletic stadium.
"While the athletic communities in North Leinster were thrilled with the prospect of such a facility, the Claremont Stadium committee recognised that it would not meet the needs of our rapidly expanding county.
"An application was made to transfer the grant to provide an Olympic standard outdoor athletic facility and upgrade the existing stadium to provide a greater range of sporting and leisure pursuits for the community," she added.
The grant was transferred 1999 and work began on the site.
"This development will have an impact not only in this town and the county,but across all of North Leinster," commented the then Minister Noel Dempsey as he launched the plans for the new development.
The committee was successful with a 2009 application to the Community Services Programme (CSP) and a new company, CSG Sports Club CLG was set up to run and manage the day-to-day service of Claremont Stadium.
"Claremont Stadium committee is happy to announce that it has successfully settled the receivership and looks forward to building up our services and facilities again," Navan AC secretary Fiona Gunapala told the Meath Chronicle.
"We are very thankful for recent grants from the County Council, Department of Justice and Equality, Department of Rural and Community Development and Applegreen which will see some major improvements to our building and a new programme of sporting activities for children," she added.
Many of the club's original members are still active on the committee including Michael Smyth, the club's president and a founding member of Navan AC.
Ann Lister (vice-president), Fiona Gunapala (secretary) and Bernie Gallagher (competition secretary) started out as juvenile members of the club.
Navan AC has experienced rapid growth in recent years, particularly in the senior and masters categories.
This is in no small part to the tremendous efforts, hard work and dedication of chairperson Mary Watters who has guided this section of the club from a handful of members five years ago to being one of the fastest growing clubs in Meath," stated the club secretary.
"Mary is one of the most consistent, well know and popular master athletes in the county," she concluded.
Navan AC was principally formed as a juvenile club and currently boasts a thriving under-age section with children putting in some fine performances in championships and leagues.
Tom Clinton, the current Meath coach, and Ciaran Conlan are both longtime members of the club and both support and mentor juvenile and senior coaching.
The club now has over 350 members registered with Athletics Ireland and annually hosts two popular road races.
The joint-event of the Simon Cumbers and Paddy Hyland 6k Road Races, which will be held next year on Friday 17th May, 8 pm.
This race has grown in popularity and in 2018 welcomed 1,100 participants to Claremont for a great night of running and also a very special children's race in memory of Alanna Russell.
The race remembers Simon Cumbers who was tragically killed while working for the BBC in Saudi Arabia in June 2004 and Paddy Hyland, who
served athletics with distinction in Navan and beyond for many years.
THURSDAY 27th DECEMBER
The Rita (Brady) and Robbie (Byrne) Christmas 5k will take place on Thursday 27th December at 12 midday at Claremont Stadium.
OTHER SCHEDULED AAI EVENTS
(12PM unless stated)
Saturday 27th October
Leinster Novice plus u-12, 14, 16, 18, 20 cross-country championships, Navan SAC (Sports Adventure Centre, racecourse).
Sunday 4th November
Meath u-9, 11, 13, 15, 17 cross-country league (first round), 3k Fit for Life cross country, Enfield/Baconstown.
Sunday 11th November
Leinster Senior plus Under 11, 13, 15, 17,1 9 Cross Country Championships– Adamstown, Co Wexford.
Sunday 18th November
Meath Cross Country Relay Championships – Under 10, 12, 14, 16 & Adult mixed – Navan SAC
Sunday 25th November
National Junior/Senior plus Under 12, 14, 16, 18 Cross Country Championships, Abbottstown, 11.30am.
Sunday 2nd December
Meath Masters Cross Country Championships plus u-9, 11, 13, 15, 17 Cross Country League (second round)– Porchesfield, Trim.
Sunday 9th December
Meath Senior Cross Country Championships plus u-9, 11, 13, 15, 17 Cross Country League (third round), Navan SAC, senior ladies 4km, 11am, senior men 8km, 11.20am, juvenile league.
Saturday 15th December
National Novice plus u-11, 13, 15, 17, 19 Cross Country Championships, Navan Sports Adventure Centre, 11.30am.