Athlone Institute of Technology was a hive of activity this weekend with no fewer than three events taking place on the college campus. The Irish National University Outdoor Championships took place on Friday and Saturday. A stone’s-throw away, in the AIT International Arena, Day 3 of
the Irish Life Health National Juvenile Indoor Championships took place on Saturday. Meanwhile on Sunday, the Irish Life Health National Spring Throws Event attracted some of the country’s best throwers.
Indoor Season ends on a high for Wexford’s young stars
Wexford had several athletes aiming for glory at the Juvenile Championships, the final indoor event of the season. The only track events were the relays. However, with no Wexford teams involved the focus was solely on field events with Shot Put, Triple Jump and Long Jump titles up for grabs.
Jack Forde, had an early 10am start in the Boys U17 Shot Put. The St. Killian’s AC man came to Athlone on a high following his classy High Jump win at the same venue the previous week. Jack, a talented multi-eventer, has a fine temperament to go with his strength and versatility. He really is a competitor for the big occasion. The only negative is that this often lands him with the pre-event ‘favourite’ tag. Not that there was any sign that this bothered him last Saturday. Jack eased his way into the competition, growing in confidence with each throw. With his third effort his timing and technique were perfect and he flung the shot a distance of 12.90m, his best of the day. Nobody else in the field got remotely close to this mark and Jack claimed yet another national title, winning by 70cm. What an achievement from one of Wexford’s finest talents in many a year. Onto the outdoor season now for Jack.
Wexford was well represented in the Girls U19 Shot Put. Training partners, Lystus Ebosele (D.M.P. AC) and Éadaoin Stafford (Adamstown AC), usually work together but on Saturday they were competing against each other and battling for national glory. Lystus’s record suggested that she was always going to be among the favourites. With multiple Irish vests already under her belt across a number of throwing events, Lystus is one of the most liked and respected athletes in Irish Juvenile athletics. Her throw of 11.64m in the 2nd round was good enough to take gold.
Meanwhile Éadaoin, who is no stranger herself to the podium, was battling hard for the silver medal. There were three competitors chasing the remaining two medals and only centimetres separating them. However, it was to be Éadaoin’s day. Her 2nd round throw, of 9.88m, propelled her into 2nd place, her best of the series and a position to which she held on to take the silver. Great results from the Wexford duo.
Gergely Pap, of St. Paul’s, has been a consistent medal-winner at National level. His fellow competitors know that he is a force to be reckoned with, always the one to beat. Like the aforementioned Lystus, Gergely has already picked up several Irish vests and is a hot prospect for the future. He justified his favourite’s tag with his best effort of 14.13m being good enough to give him the win. However, it was a relatively close thing as James Hughes (unattached) put it up to Gergely getting close to 14m with his final effort. Gergely now turns his attention to the outdoor season when, on the evidence of how is form is shaping up, he will be the one to beat.
It was a big day for Leinster U18 Shot Put champion, Erin Van Straaten of St Paul’s AC, who was competing in her first National Championships. While Ciara Sheehy of Emerald AC (Limerick) was a clear winner by nearly 2 metres, Erin had a consistent series of throws to take the silver. Her throw of 12.76m was close to 50 cms further than her nearest rival. It was also a metre further than her throw at the Leinsters, showing her rapid rate of development. Erin is definitely one to follow in the busy outdoor season ahead.
United Striders man, Patrick Doyle finished 5th in the Boys U18 Triple Jump, with a best jump of 11.62m. That capped a strong indoor season for Patrick as he also made it through to the Nationals in the 60m.
Orlaith Deegan, SBR AC, was 13th in the Girls U15 Long Jump.
National Universities Outdoor Championships
The National Universities Outdoor Championships are the most prestigious championships in the Irish collegiate calendar. The event attracts some of Ireland’s top names competing in the colours of their respective colleges, including Phil Healy (WIT) who is coached by Wexford man Shane McCormack. Phil, Ireland’s fastest woman, won the 100m and 200m, her time for the latter being a European lead for the season and the third fastest time ever run by an Irish woman.
A number of Wexford athletes, including Ryan Carthy Walsh (WIT), were hoping to both make the podium and get points on the board for their college.
Ryan, who normally dons the black and gold of Adamstown, has been National Senior champion in the past and competed at the European Youth Championships a couple of years back. Preparing for last Summer’s Leaving Cert and making the transition to student life at WIT meant that athletics took something of a back seat for much of 2018 so it was great to see him back in action. He was without question the standout name in the field and was a well deserved winner, clearing 1.95m, the only athlete to do so. The fact that he well off his 2.10 PB will not have caused him any concern given that it is so early in the season and that the main aim was to get maximum points for the team.
Race walker Joe Mooney, another Adamstown athlete, competing for DCU, is in fine shape at present having recently won the Isle of Man 20k Race Walk. Competing last Saturday in the 3km Walk, it was nip and tuck for much of the race between Joe and a fellow DCU athlete. However, with one kilometre to go, Joe casually whipped off his cap and moved to the front. He quickly opened a gap and moved ahead for a facile victory. A good start to Joe’s outdoor season.
Speaking afterwards, Joe said: “When I was at 2k, with 1k to go, and I had a bit left in the tank, I said I may as well go for it now; if I die, I die; if I come 2nd and I don’t go for it I’ll be only kicking myself at the end of the race. This was the best chance I’ve had to win the gold and it might be the best chance I ever get.”
Jenny Higgins (St. Paul’s), representing UL came 3rd in the Women’s 1500m walk.
Aaron Tierney Smith of WIT was also looking to make it onto the podium, in the 110m Hurdles. Aaron, who runs with Menapians AC, won the National University Indoor Title in Athlone in February. Last weekend he was up against a quality field which included Matthew Behan of DCU, recent winner at the National Senior Indoor Championships. Aaron produced a time of 15.64s to take the bronze medal. The time was also a PB, a fantastic achievement for a season opener.
David McDonald (WIT), was one of the leading contenders in the Men’s 100m. McDonald, who represented Ireland in the London Anniversary Games last year on the Irish 4x100m relay team, ran his fastest ever season opener in his heat of 10.86s. The Menapians man finished 2nd in the heat, qualifying for the final but unfortunately did not return for the final.
Conor Wilson of WIT and Menapians had a great comeback performance after a long time out with injuries. Remarkably, Wilson broke a 5 year old PB, running 22.25s for the 200m, which was good enough to finish 6th.
Sean Donohue (WIT), finished 6th in the Men’s 400m, in a time of 50.41s. The Menapians man was impressive as ever in doing so and will no doubt have a busy Outdoor season ahead of him.
Conor Gaffney (UCD and Menapians) had a welcome return from injury in the combined events. Gaffney place 4th, scoring 2,578 points in the process.
Peter O’Shea of DCU was aiming for glory in the Javelin. The D.M.P. man is a fantastic thrower and continues to improve year on year. He threw a PB last year in the Mr Oil County Senior Championships in Enniscorthy. His best effort last weekend was 56.95m, good enough to secure a well earned silver medal.
Amy Forde of WIT was in action in two field events on Saturday, the Shot Put and the Hammer. The St. Killian’s athlete placed 9th in Shot with a best of 7.40m and 4th in the Hammer with 29.26m. In the latter, Amy was up against DCU’s Michaela Walsh, one of Ireland’s best ever female Hammer throwers.
Emmanuel Ogbonna (WIT and Menapians AC) finished 5th in the Triple Jump. He jumped a Season’s Best of 12.81m.
Irish Life Spring Throws Competition
The Irish Life Spring Throws Competition took place on Sunday in Athlone. This competition, sees Ireland’s best throwers congregate for a meet in the lead up to the busy outdoor season.
Tom Furlong of DMP took an impressive win in the Senior Men’s Hammer (7.26kg) with a best throw of 61.77m, giving him a comfortable margin over 2nd placed Simon Galligan of Clonliffe Harriers.
No less convincing in the manner of his victory was Taghmon’s Padraig Hore who won the Junior Men’s Discus (1.75kg), his best effort of 45.08m being in excess of 2.5m clear of his nearest rival.
Saidhbhe Byrne, Enniscorthy AC, was in action in the Girls U16 Javelin. Saidhbhe, an acclaimed multi-eventer, has had a great indoor season. In her first outdoor event of the year, she put in a solid performance to finish 5th, with a best throw of 34.53m. However, it wasn’t without controversy. Saidhbhe had thrown 35.13m and was in 3rd position. However, an official incorrectly recorded the result as 25.13m. Despite the efforts of Saidhbhe and following an appeal the decision stood, denying Saidhbhe a place on the podium. She finished 13th in the discus.
Emma Owens, St. Paul’s AC, is arguably Wexford’s best and most consistent thrower. She proved this last Sunday with a fine 3rd place finish in the Senior Women’s 4kg Hammer (42.40m).
Taghmon AC’s Bronagh O’Hanlon is another of our Hammer specialists having won multiple county and Leinster medals down the years. She ended the competition in 5th place finish with a PB of 31.27m. Amy Forde was 7th.
Eadaoin Stafford, of Adamstown was 15th in the discuss.
United Striders’ javelin throwing ace, Joshua Hewlett, got his season off to a good start despite having just two (of four) valid throws in the Senior Men’s event. His best effort of 49.07m gave him a good 2nd place finish.