A Good Year for Wexford Athletics

With the dust settling on the old year Athletics Wexford can be quietly pleased as it looks back on what has been a very productive and successful 2018. This is especially the case in the place it matters most: the competitive arena. The county’s juvenile athletics scene is in rude good health with more athletes than ever medalling at national level. It is particularly gratifying to note that young Wexford athletes are performing to a high standard right across the board – walks, throws, middle distance, sprints, jumps, combined events and cross country. That said, as athletes move on from underage to Junior and Senior levels the challenge will be to keep them motivated and involved. There is no room for complacency.

Coaching and Development

Athletics Ireland has introduced a new coaching and development support structure which, if it works, should help athletes at all levels although, as is to be expected, most of the focus will be on those who are already of national or international standard.

Wexford has a number of juvenile athletes who, with the right management and coaching, have what it takes to compete at Senior International level, right up to, and including, World Championships and Olympics. Of course, as everyone knows, having the potential to achieve is one thing, avoiding all the hurdles life throws up is quite another. The foundation stones that make the athlete are laid down in the formative years. This means that an athlete’s first coach can be the person who establishes the template for what they will become.

Athletics Wexford announced at a recent meeting that it will be organising coaching and mentoring sessions for athletes and their coaches so that they can (a) plan better and (b) train smarter. 

Our Youth, Our Future

The aim of every young Irish athlete is to one day pull on the green jersey and represent their country.

Three Wexford athletes made the Irish team which competed at the Schools International T&F meet in Glasgow in July: Loreto Wexford’s Aisling Kelly (Sprints) and Róisín O’Reilly (Steeplechase), and Gergely Pap of CBS Wexford who competed in Shot Putt. They helped Ireland to a 2nd place finish behind a very strong English team.

A month later Aisling and Róisín were selected on the Irish team for the Celtic International meet which took place at the same venue just outside Glasgow. They were joined by Jack Forde (High Jump), and Lystus Ebosele (Discus). A prerequisite to being selected is winning one’s event at the National Championships. Once again the Wexford athletes gave a good account of themselves and helped Ireland to a 2nd place finish, this time behind the Scots.

High Jump specialist and Combined Eventer Maeve Haves of Loreto Wexford and St Paul’s AC travelled to Scotland in November for the Schools International Pentathlon. She played her part in securing Team Silver team medals for Ireland.

Claragh Keane (DMP) has been selected, on the back of a great run at the National Championships, for the Irish team competing at the Celtic International Cross Country in Belfast on Jan 19.

With so many stellar Wexford performances over the year it almost seems churlish to pick highlights.

Multi-talented combined events specialist Jack Forde is one of our most prolific champions. At last Summer’s Leinster T&F he came away with three golds and two CBPs, he won All-Ireland medals indoors and outdoors and competed with distinction internationally. Another multi-eventer, Enniscorthy’s Saidhbhe Byrne, had a brilliant year with All-Ireland success in Javelin and Combined Events. 

High jumper Ryan Carthy Walsh of Adamstown and Good Counsel College took his foot off the pedal during the year and still managed to win national titles.

The middle distance boys of United Striders, led by Myles Hewlett and Ben Wall and including Cosmo Hewlett, Eoin and Aidan Shannon, Finbarr Kelly and Robert Wall, had a wonderful year with a fine haul of individual and team medals at provincial and national levels. Indeed, this was a year in which Wexford’s underage distance runners stepped up to the plate with impressive performances by the aforementioned Striders boys, Kevin O’Mahony, Nathan Murphy, Aedan Rogers, Róisín O’Reilly, Claragh, Éabha and Conor Keane, Sarah Phylan, Joe Byrne, Mairead Crean and Emma McCarthy. Bree youngsters Lea Bolger, Jayden Kenny and Cian O’Donovan also caught the eye. 

Aishling Kelly of Taghmon and Loreto Wexford was easily one of our most successful sprinters in 2018 winning All-Ireland gold and silver and competing internationally. And, of course, there was the Menapians rocket David McDonald of whom more later.

Revelation of the year was Ruby Reynolds. Competing in her first year of competitive athletics the young Menapians lady won All-Ireland gold medals in U13 60m Hurdles both indoors and outdoors. Ruby has a lovely relaxed attitude which, one presumes, comes from the fact that she enjoys doing what she is doing as much as simply striving to be the best.

In the Walks there was national success for Ryan Kielthy, Ciara, Tríona and Joe Mooney, Aidan Kehoe, Eve Byrne, Isabel Bawden, Jack Byrne and Brídín Doyle. Brídín caused a sensation at the National Champs when, competing U14, she won, not just her own category, but the race outright in a time of 11.22.19 mins.

Wexford throwers really threw their weight around over the year! Those making it to the winner’s podium, often multiple times, included Padraig Hore, Lystus Ebosele, Marguerite Furlong, Bronagh O’Hanlon, Amy Forde, Emma Owens, Sonia Mooney, Kate Jackman, Gergely Pap and Joshua Hewlett.

National Senior T&F Success

Wexford had a small but powerful crew of big hitters at the 2018 National Senior T&F Championships. Menapians speedster Leon Reid struck gold in both 100 and 200. Marco Pons of DMP took the National Discus title with a throw of 53.67m, 2 metres more than he threw a year previously when placing 2nd. Enniscorthy’s Michael Bowler also went one place better than the year before as he won the Pole Vault with 4.50m. Ryan Carthy Walsh (Adamstown) won the High Jump without needing to exert himself. Emma Owens of St Paul’s won a bronze in Discus and might have medalled in hammer but for a mishap in the throwing circle.

National Intermediate Cross Country

Kilmore’s Fiona Kehoe battled her way through the Winter muck of Clarinbridge to place a very respectable 5th in the National Intermediate Women’s 5km race. The previous week at the AAI Indoor Games Fiona placed 2nd in the 3000m in 9.49.60m.

There was also a 5th place finish for Ger Forde, Slaney Olympic, in the Inter Men’s 8km race

Getting better with age!

Wexford’s Masters sector continues to thrive with good numbers competing at all levels. It was another successful year for our Masters athletes on both national and international stages. Jackie Carthy, Niall Sheil, Anne Gilshinan, Ann Sullivan, Fiona Kehoe, John McGrath and Ger Maloney all competed internationally over the year. And all have the medals to prove it!

Among those medalling at All-Ireland Master’s T&F and Combined Events were Gavin Kelly, Sonya Byrne, Paul Crowe, Jimmy O’Neill, Emily Waldron, Áine Cullen and John O’Connor.

In the National Masters Cross Country the O50 Wexford men won team gold ahead of a more fancied Dublin team. Leading Wexford home was Jim Stafford who also won individual gold O55, his first at national level.

European medals for Jackie and Niall

At the European Masters Championships in Madrid Jackie Carthy won a gold medal in the O45 5km Cross Country and a silver in the 3000m. Niall Sheil placed 12th in the 1500m and 12th in the cross country race, winning a silver medal in the latter with the Irish team.

Record Breakers!

At the 2018 Leinster Masters T&F Champs, Antoinette Stafford of DMP re-wrote the record books, posting a winning, and World-leading, 5.40 metres best in Long Jump. In doing so she erased the long-standing 5.04m mark set in 1979 by former Olympian Meabh Kyle. Antoinette went on to win 100m in a new CBP of 13.46s. Anne Gilshinan, Slaney Olympic, won the W50 1,500m in a CBP of 4.58.39 mins. DMP’s Ann Sullivan made a welcome return to track, following an absence of 4 years, to win W55 1500m in a CBP of 5.23.25 mins and the 3000 in a CBP of 11.27.04 mins.

PROFILES

Leon Reid 

”I might possibly be in the best shape of my life.” Those were the words of Menapians AC athlete Leon Reid having qualified for the Men’s 200m Final at last April’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia. He then went on to win a bronze medal, Northern Ireland’s first Commonwealth Games athletics medal since 1990.

Leon, who won European medals for Britain at Junior and under-23 level, made a decision a couple of years ago to switch his allegiance from the UK to Ireland. He then endured a frustratingly long wait for a satisfactory outcome to his application to the IAAF. His case was not helped by the Federation introducing a total freeze on inter-country transfers. Shortly after it announced that transfers would recommence under new rules, word finally came through that Leon’s transfer was officially approved. He was on the next plane to Berlin for the European Championships where, for the first time, he would be wearing a green singlet. 

Leon was ultimately disappointed with his Berlin experience as he could only manage a 7th place finish in the 200m final despite clocking 20.37, just outside his Irish record of 20.27 which he ran when placing 3rd at the 2018 British Championships. This result did not stop The Irish Times announcing that he represented “the future of Irish men’s sprinting”.

He clearly showed, earlier in the year, that he is top dog in Irish men’s sprinting. At the AAI Indoor Games he did the 60m double, winning the series 1 race in 6.81s and the series 2 race in 6.79s. He also placed 2nd in the 400m in a time if 48.48s. He also had double success nationally at both the indoor and the outdoor championships. 

Leon is delighted to be a committed member of Team Ireland and says he is totally focused on the World T&F Championships in Tokyo. 

Ten of the best for Michael!

Enniscorthy’s Michael Bowler described his Combined Events victory at the British University Championships last May as “a perfect ending to my university athletics career”. This result along with his 2nd place finish in the UK Decathlon Championships, with a PB of 7263 points, made it a very good year for Michael. The latter performance put him at No.8 on the all time Irish Decathlete list and No.1 for the year. He also came 3rd in the 2018 British Universities Pole Vault with a PB of 475cm, which put him at No.1 in Ireland for the event. Michael went on to take the Irish Pole Vault title.

Michael, in recalling how his love of combined events started many years ago in the fields of Caim, says he owes a great debt of gratitude to those who have guided him along the way. He mentions the late Willie Rackard who, in his time, was a fine high jumper. Local race horse trainer Pat Sinnott also devoted much time to helping Michael and a number of other enthusiasts, get off the ground, literally, in the pole vault. The resourceful mentor started by digging a hole in the ground as a box for the pole and heaping together old mattresses from St Johns hospital in Enniscorthy, along with straw bales, as a make-shift landing mat!    

Michael, having successfully completed his Masters in physiotherapy at the University of Birmingham, now plans on putting his expertise to good use as a coach and a mentor. “I want to play a part in developing the next generation of combined events hopefuls,” he says.

David McDonald

L-R Coach Shane McCormack, David McDonald and Irish international Phil Healy.

If Leon Reid is the master, fellow Menapians athlete David McDonald is the apprentice. David did the sprint double at the Leinster Schools winning the 100m in 10.81s and the 200m in 21.66s. At the AAI Games in May he won the 200m in 20.93 seconds. He also won the 400m in 48.58s. On then to the All-Ireland Schools T&F Champs. In the 100m David was edged into 2nd place by Bangor’s Aaron Sexton even though both were given the same time, 10.52s. He also placed 2nd behind Sexton in the 200m running 21.26s. Next up was a trip to Mannheim, Germany where David led the Irish Junior 4×100 team to a new National Junior record and World Junior qualifying time of 40.30s. Then at the Mannheim Gala he was a member of the Irish Junior 4x100m team which came 2nd, getting a pb of 40.30s and achieved qualification for the World Juniors. At the same meet he was 5th fastest in the timed 200m heats, running a time of 21.48s. There was further international action with the relay team at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Finland and at the London Diamond League.

Shorts

International success for Lystus

The highlight of a great year for Lystus Ebosele (DMP) was winning Gold and Silver for Ireland at the Celtic International Games in August. She won U18 Discus  with a throw of 37.90m, well short of her 39.97m PB achieved at the 2018 Leinsters. Lystus placed 2nd in Shot Putt (3kg) with 13.51m. The DMP girl was typically modest when summing up her performance in Scotland as leaving “room for improvement”. Team Manager Amanda Hynes begged to differ, saying that Lystus was one of the stars of the Irish team. Her Summer medal haul included gold at All-Ireland Schools in Senior Shot Putt and a pair of U18 golds at National Championships in Shot Putt and Discus. 

No barriers to Róisín’s progress

Steeplechase specialist Róisín O’Reilly (Menapians) has just enjoyed her most successful year yet. Highlights included winning All-Ireland U17 2000m s/c in a CBP and PB of 7:06.73 mins; winning All-Ireland Junior 3000m s/c; placing 4th at All-Ireland level in U17 1500m and U17 Cross Country; representing Ireland at the SIABs and Celtic Games.

There’s Endurance, then there’s Ultra!

Last Summer Patrick O’Leary (Bree AC) and Yvonne Naughton (Wexford Marathon Club) competed in the IAU/ITRA Ultra-Trail World Championships in Spain as part of a 7 strong Irish team. Patrick completed the 85km route through the mountains of the Natural Park of Penyagolosa in 9 hours 40 second, while it took Yvonne 13 hours and 25 mins.

In what was a busy year for Wexford Marathon Club on the ultra front, Patrick Rowe won the M35 category at the 2018 24hr Irish Championships, achieving a distance of 162.142 km. Clubmate Paul Duggan was a silver medallist in M50 category, covering 162.095 km. In the women’s 24hr race Lorraine McMahon was 3rd overall and Mag Balfe 7th. Moving down to the 12hr race, Anna Monahan was 3rd, Angie Whelan 2nd F35 and Dee Boland 1st F40. 

Last September James Whitty completed the Listowel 24hr with an impressive 201.49km to place 2nd. In December Yvonne Naughton completed a successful year of racing, both at home and abroad, with a win in the Wicklow Way Raw Ultra 100 Miles in a time of 22.39.33 hours. Fellow WMC member Owen Fenton was 10th and Patrick Rowe was 18th in the men’s race.

Link to page detailing main 2018 achievements in ultra racing by WMC.

Scary moment of the year

Bree’s Olivia Howe caused quite a scare with the unorthodox approach she took in her efforts to win the U19 100m at the Leinster T&F Championships. In the final few metres, and with a finger-tips victory just about in her grasp, such was her determination to get her dip in first that she crashed to the ground as she crossed the line … head first! Recognising the seriousness of the situation the medical people moved very quickly and ensured Olivia received textbook treatment. The Bree girl, was taken to the local hospital and kept in for observation overnight. She was given the all-clear the following day and released. That last desperate dip gave her the win in a time of 13.62s, her margin 0.03 seconds. 

European Duathlon Success for Ciara

Last October Ciara Wilson of DMP AC and Performance Science Ireland placed 9th at the European Duathlon Championships in Santa Eulalia, Ibiza. She was competing as a member of the Ireland Elite team. The event started with a 10k run followed by a 40k bike and lastly a 5k run. 

Earlier in the year Ciara placed 2nd in the National Duathlon.

British Gold

Anne Gilshinan (Slaney Olympic) won the 1500m at the British Masters National Championships in Birmingham.

For the love of the sport

Athletics, for better or worse, runs in families. There is one Wexford family which celebrates its love of the sport in a unique way. At the start of the year members of the Gately family check the athletics fixtures for the year, find the listing for the Leinster T&F Championships and ‘X’ that date in the calendar. 

On the last Saturday of June 2018 they made, what is now, their annual pilgrimage to the competition. They converged on Tullamore from various parts of the country clad in the colours of their respective clubs: Menapians, Bree, DMP, SDS and Banagher. Miriam, competing for Bree, won Bronze in W50 Javelin; Olwyn, also Bree, was 5th in W40 Javelin; Neasa, in the colours of Banagher, was 3rd in W35 Javelin; Ronan, a member of DSD, won M45 400m Hurdles in a CBP of 1.10.24 mins, placed 2nd in M45 High Jump and 4th in 100m; Patrick, competing at M50 level in the colours of DMP, won both High Jump, clearing 1.50m, a CBP, and Long Jump. Michael, nursing an injury, had to be content with cheering from the sidelines.  

Wexford Winter League

The annual Wexford Juvenile Winter League was run, over three weeks in November, at Enniscorthy Sports Hub. The event provides a great opportunity for younger athletes to test themselves in a competitive, yet relaxed, setting. Numbers were very good, especially in the younger age groups. And, as always, there were lots of close-fought contests. United Striders retained their title as Best Overall Club.

The Kilmore Winter League also saw plenty of good competitive action in all age categories with the final round taking place in early December.

So long Toddy

Last April Wexford athletics lost one of its favourite sons with the passing of Toddy Moore. Toddy was President of Kilmore AC, Honorary Life President of AAI and a Life Member of Athletics Wexford. For more than six decades he gave unstinting commitment to athletics in his home place of Kilmore, throughout the county of Wexford and, as an administrator, much further afield. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Round-up of Wexford Championship Races in 2018

Mr Oil Wexford Senior Cross Country, JFK Park

Kilmore’s Fiona Kehoe had a comfortable win in the Women’s Senior 5000m race ahead of clubmate Jackie Carthy in 2nd and Ann Sullivan (DMP) in 3rd. There was exultation in the DMP camp as the club wrested the team title back from Kilmore who finished in 2nd place. SBR were 3rd.

In the Senior Men’s 10000m race, Ger Forde of Slaney Olympic held onto the title he had won a year previously. Young Striders’ athlete Aedan Rogers looked impressive in 2nd place while Niall Sheil won bronze. In the race for the team title United Striders were unfortunate to lose Alan O’Connor mid-race through injury. The upshot was that SBR retained the title by a single point with Striders 2nd and SBR ‘B’ 3rd.

Mr Oil Wexford Masters & Intermediate CC, Wexford

Intermediate Women   

  • 1 Fidelma Rossiter Kilmore 
  •  2 Belinda Kehoe SBR 
  •  3 Ciara Jones Croghan 
  • 1st team: United Striders
  • 2nd team: SBR
  • 3rd team: Slaney Olympic

Masters Women     

  •  1 Jackie Carty Kilmore F45
  •  2 Helen Doyle Kilmore F45
  •  3 Fidelma Rossiter Kilmore F40 
  • 1st team: Kilmore 
  • 2nd team: SBR
  • 3rd team: United Striders

Intermediate Men   

  •  1 Enda Cloake Slaney Olympic  
  •  2 Pat Foley Croghan 
  •  3 Alan O’Connor United Striders
  • 1st team: Slaney Olympic
  • 2nd team: United Striders
  • 3rd team Croghan

Masters Men     

  •  1 Tom Hogan SBR M35 
  •  2 Niall Sheil St Killians M40
  •  3 John McGrath United Striders M45
  • 1st team: SBR
  • 2nd team: United Striders
  • 3rd team: Slaney Olympic

Note: Róisín O’Reilly (Menapians) was first Junior woman and Liam Turner (DMP) first Junior man.

Mr Oil Wexford Senior Road Race Champs, Murrintown

Senior Ladies

  • 1 Fiona Kehoe Kilmore
  • 2 Ann Sullivan DMP
  • 3 Katie Wilson DMP
  • 1st team: Kilmore
  • 2nd team: Slaney Olympic
  • 3rd team: SBR

Senior Men

  • 1 Ger Forde Slaney Olympic
  • 2 Niall Sheil St Killian’s
  • 3 Paul Lynch SBR
  • 1st team: SBR
  • 2nd team: United Striders
  • 3rd team: Slaney Olympic

Mr Oil Wexford Masters Road Race Championships, Ferns

Women’s 4k

  • 1 Jackie Carthy Kilmore 
  • 2 Helen Doyle Kilmore
  • 3 Catherine Roche Slaney Olympic
  • 1st team: Kilmore
  • 2nd team: Slaney Olympic
  • 3rd team: SBR

Men’s 6k

  • 1 Alan O’Connor United Striders
  • 2 Joe Lillis United Striders
  • 3 Brendan Lyng United Striders
  • 1st team: United Striders
  • 2nd team: SBR
  • 3rd team: Croghan

Mr Oil Wexford Intermediate Road Championships, Ballymurn

Women’s 4k

  • 1 Mary Gorham Slaney Olympic 
  • 2 Lillian Lawless SBR
  • 3 Angie Redmond Slaney Olympic

Men’s 8k

  • 1 Brendan Lyng United Striders
  • 2 Mark Poole Croghan
  • 3 George Delaney United Striders

Mr Oil County Wexford Half Marathon, Oylegate

Men

  • 1 Joe Lillis United Striders
  • 2 Enda Cloake Slaney Olympic
  • 3 David Kehoe Slaney Olympic 
  • 1st team: United Striders
  • 2nd team: Slaney Olympic
  • 3rd team: SBR

Women

  • 1 Esther O’Leary Slaney Olympic
  • 2 Suzanne Keane Croghan
  • 3 Belinda Kehoe SBR 
  • 1st team: Slaney Olympic
  • 2nd team: Wexford Marathon Club

Mr Oil Wexford Novice CC Champs, Davidstown

Women

  • 1 Angie Redmond Slaney Olympic
  • 2 Beth O’Connor United Striders
  • 3 Esther O’Leary Slaney Olympic
  • 1st team: United Striders
  • 2nd team: Slaney Olympic
  • 3rd team: SBR

Men’s 6K

  • 1 Paul Flanagan DMP
  • 2 John Stone DMP
  • 3 George Delaney United Striders
  • 1st Team: DMP
  • 2nd team: United Striders
  • 3rd team SBR

Mr Oil Wexford Intermediate Cross Country Championships, Ferns

Women’s 4K

  • 1 Angie Redmond Slaney Olympic
  • 2 Beth O’Connor United Striders
  • 3 Lillian Lawless SBR
  • 1st team: United Striders
  • 2nd team: Slaney Olympic

Men’s 8K

  • 1 Mark Poole Croghan
  • 2 Brendan Lyng United Striders
  • 3 Paul Doran United Striders
  • 1st team: United Striders
  • 2nd team: Croghan
  • 3rd team: DMP

ENDS!

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