Bowler and Hore impress at historic 150th National Senior Track & Field

Last weekend was, without question, the highpoint of the domestic track and field season with both the Tailteann Games, the annual schools’ inter-provincial event, and the Irish Life Health National Senior T&F Championships taking place.

The Tailteann Games, which took place last Friday in Tullamore, served as the perfect intro to what was the 150th edition of the National Senior T&F Championships. With many of our top senior athletes currently gearing up for, firstly, next month’s World Championships, followed in August by the European Championships, the opportunity to fine-tune at the national championships came at the perfect time. As a result, Santry Stadium hosted one of the best, most exciting weekends of athletics in years. The windy conditions on Saturday, with heavy rain added to the mix on Sunday, meant that the emphasis was more on coming out ahead rather than on breaking records. Then again, such is the nature of championship competitions.

The highlight of a busy Sunday programme was the men’s pole vault in which Enniscorthy’s Michael Bowler and Matthew Callinan Keenan (St. L. O’Toole AC) treated the audience to a thrilling competition. Battling dismal weather conditions, both athletes cleared 4.50 metres before conditions got the better of them. The judges looked back over their record of clearances and, on countback, Callinan Keenan just edged it. Michael’s silver medal came with a season’s best performance so he was well pleased. It is worth noting that pole vault is just one of the events he does as Michael is one of the country’s top decathletes – he is 6th on the Irish all-time list. And yet, pole vault is his preferred discipline of the ten. Indeed, so evangelistic is he about it that he has said in the past he will happily work with any serious converts to the event. Michael spent a good chunk of the weekend as a commentator for Athletics Ireland’s live online coverage of the championships.

It was a day to remember also for Padraig Hore, DMP’s throws specialist. He had three ‘X’s in his series of six throws in men’s discus (2kg), but one of the three good throws, at 45.22 metres, was enough to clinch the bronze. Clonliffe’s Eoin Sheridan threw 53.80 metres to win. Padraig was well clear of his nearest rival, Barry Healy, from Youghal AC by over a metre and improved on his Spring Throws result of 44.74 metres.

Some of Wexford’s younger field eventers braved the senior ranks. With torrential rain lashing down, Jack Forde of St. Killian’s cleared 1.85 metres in high jump, the same height as Nenagh’s Joseph McEvoy. The fact that it took Jack two efforts to clear that height meant that the bronze went to McEvoy, Jack placing 4th. Indeed, the 5th placed athlete was also on the same height!

Dannan Long (Enniscorthy AC) placed 3rd in his 200 metres heat in a time of 23.49 seconds. There may have been a little fatigue in his limbs as this race came less than 24 hours after his gold medal winning exploits at the Tailteann Games. His time for the same event the previous day was almost a second faster. Conor Wilson of Menapians was 2nd in heat 1 of 200 metres (22.70 seconds).

Enniscorthy AC’s multi-eventer, Saidhbhe Byrne (Enniscorthy) competed in the women’s javelin. Saidhbhe has been specialising in the throws events this year, with shot put and javelin being her chosen events. This choice has been reaping rewards, with Saidhbhe getting a personal best performance of 36.38 metres to finish 8th in the final. That was a little further than she threw in claiming the Leinster under 19 javelin title the previous weekend.

Fiona Kehoe of Kilmore AC was 5th in the second of two 1500 metres heats in a time of 4.36.49. DMP’s Clare Barrett was 12th in the other heat in 4.56.44 minutes, her first time competing at this distance. Fiona went on to place 9th in a tactical final in 4.41.97. Ciara Wilson (DMP) was missing some of her usual vim and vigour as she tackled the 12 1/2 laps of the 5,000 metres. She ended up in 14th place in 18.09.03 minutes. The fact that she has had a busy few months with duathlons, triathlons and road races may have been a factor.

The Mooneys of Adamstown, Joe and Ciara, competed in the walks. Ciara was 4th in the 5,000 metres walk (28.35.50 minutes). Joe placed 5th in the men’s 10,000 metres event in 44.55.85 minutes. The race was run by the Swedish athlete Perseus Karlstrom running in the colours of Togher AC. Karlstrom won a bronze medal at the World 20km race walks and he is the Swedish record-holder.

Other Wexford placings:
Clodagh Dunbar, Menapians – 4th heat 1, 200 metres (26.70).
Aaron Tierney Smith, Menapians – 3rd heat 4, 400 metres (50.33).
Eimear Halpin, Menapians – 5th heat 1, 400m hurdles (70.13).
Elizabeth Gahan, Enniscorthy – 7th heat 2, 800 metres (2.21.07).
Ger Forde, Kilkenny City Harriers – 7th in second of three 5,000 metres races (15.11.50).