With Storm Emma and the Beast from the East causing day 4 of the Leinster Indoors to be re-scheduled to Sunday last, Wexford athletes were raring to go as they descended upon the AIT Arena in Athlone.
To say that Wexford athletes lit up the stadium on an otherwise dreary day would be an understatement. The county’s formidable middle distance contingent provided just the start that was required to light the fuse.
Kevin O’Mahony, already the U12 Boys 60m champion, stepped up to the 600m. In his heat Kevin finished only two seconds outside a Championship record. When it came to the final and when he needed it most he delivered a gutsy performance and clinched a Bronze medal. His clubmate Conn Mernagh, who is not afraid to front run as he showed in the heat, once again used the tactic as he led out the U13 600m final. While a couple of his chasers reeled him in he was still strong enough to put in a fighting last lap and take the Bronze in a race that saw a new Championship Best Performance. Rob Sterling of St Paul’s placed a few places further back in the same race.
United Striders AC has gotten in the habit of producing fine middle distance stars who are not afraid to mix it on the national stage. It was no surprise, therefore, to see Myles Hewlett storming to victory in the U14 800m, in the process picking up a PB of 2:14. His clubmate Darragh Flannery running in the U15 800m showed superb tactical knowledge to come third in his final after a slow first lap. Striders had two athletes just out of the medals with Adam O’Connor 4th in U16 800m and Aedan Rogers 4th in U18 800m. Both qualify for Nationals.
Our female middle distance athletes produced some stellar performances. Sinead O’Reilly (Menapians) likes to use her head as much as her feet when she races! Competing in the U14 800m she ran a well-paced race to win a Silver medal, her first ever individual Leinster medal, with only All Ireland Minor Schools Cross Country Champion Sophie Quinn ahead of her. In the process she ran a massive pb of 2.28m. Danika Gilshinan was 4th in the U16 Girls 800m and qualifies for nationals. Eimear Fortune (Kilmore) reached her first individual Leinster final in the U15 Girls 800m.
Aaron Tierney Smith (Menapians), who regularly mixes it with Ireland’s elite, was a very convincing winner of the U19 boys 60m Hurdles. In the U16 boys 60m Hurdles Darra Casey (Bree) was 2nd while multi-eventer Jack Forde (St Killian’s) added a Bronze to previous wins in High Jump and Shot Put. Shane O’Neill (Menapians) knows that, but for an error or two, the Bronze he won in U17 60m Hurdles might well have been a medal of a different colour. Maeve Hayes (St Paul’s AC), already Leinster Champion at Long Jump and High Jump Champion, was 4th in the U17 60m Hurdles and will compete at all 3 events at Nationals. Club-mate Sammy Delaney, also a Leinster Long Jump Champion, made a costly stumble at the start of his U19 200m heat and, despite a good recovery, narrowly missed out on the final. Katie Doyle (Bree) won Gold in the U12 60m Hurdles while newcomer to competitive athletics Ruby Reynolds (Menapians) was quick to put a slow start behind as she blasted her way to a Silver medal in the U13 60m Hurdles. Oisin Cloake Rochford (Bree) made the final of the U12 Boys 60m Hurdles. Indeed there was quite a medal rush for Bree in the sprint hurdles races: Abbie Doyle was 3rd in the U13 60m Hurdles in a close race; Sean Rowley also had to fight hard for his Silver in the U14 Boys race; and Sophie Codd was 2nd in the U17 race. Saidhbhe Byrne (Enniscorthy) was 2nd in her U15 60m Hurdles with a new PB 9.68. She was 4th in the High Jump with a best of 1.45m. SBR’s Orlaith Byrne won gold in the U14 60m Hurdles. Fair play to Finn Cullen of Menapians who, despite coming a cropper at one of the hurdles in the U14 race, got back on his feet and finished.
Aisling Kelly (Taghmon), the U16 60m Champion, was 4th in Long Jump and 200m and will compete in the three events at Nationals. Olivia Howe (Bree) was 3rd in the U19 200m final. Blanaid Fogarty (Enniscorthy) agonisingly missed out on a medal in the U17 girls 200m with a new PB of 27.18.
In the field events Elaine Oldrain (Enniscorthy) took silver in her U15 competition with a new PB of 10.75m. In Long Jump Karyn Murphy (Enniscorthy) won Bronze in the U18 event, with a best of 4.68m, her clubmate Dannan Long was 5th in the U14 Boys competition with a best leap of 4.29, a new PB. Michael Kent (DMP) placed 4th in U12 Shot Put and qualifies for Nationals. Jack Halpin (U13) and Eimear Halpin (U15) both attained PBs for Menapians in the Shot Put. Grace Donohoe (Bree) got the shot out over 7m in the U13 girls competition.
Attention now turns to the National Indoors which kick off next weekend.