Curtain falls on County T&F Season

The second half of the Mr Oil County Track & Field Championships was held last Wednesday evening in ideal conditions at the Enniscorthy Sports Hub. Runners from all over the county gathered, along with a few guests from outside the county, eager to test their mettle against Wexford’s best. 

The evening commenced with the women’s 200 metres races. Cara Kelly (DMP) was first away of the six starters in the senior race. She stretched her lead all the way to the finish, clocking a respectable 26.73 seconds, with Chloe Reck (St Killian’s) just behind her in 27.66.

Ilze Bedrite (Menapians) flew away with the O35 title, in a time of 35.95. The O50 title went to Maggie O’Connor (Enniscorthy), but a fierce battle for second place ensued between Mary Gaynor (Menapians) and Angela Butler (Taghmon), the latter ultimately shading it with just 0.52 seconds between them. 

The field in the senior men’s 200 metres was made up almost entirely of Enniscorthy athletes with Craanford Harrier’s Hughie Doyle, the only one not wearing a red singlet. And it was Hughie who won the race, by a good margin, in 26.11 seconds. 

Guest runner Alan Dempsey of Parnell AC won an exciting O35 200 metres (29.31) from Donal Grant of Menapians (29.61). Enniscorthy’s John O’Connor took the 050 title in 29.21 seconds. 

Next up, the women’s 3000 metres, 7 ½ laps of the track. From the gun, guest runner Roisin O’Reilly (UCD) and Clare Barrett (DMP) took it out, gliding along together, running their own race. Two laps in and Kilmore’s Jackie Carthy moved away from the main body of runners and gave chase. It continued in this manner, little changing, until the fifth lap when Róisín took the lead, with Clare trying to hold on but losing ground and Jackie Carthy looking strong.

From this point on, it was clear that there would no change in the order of the top three, with Róisín running against the clock and her two pursuers holding firm. Róisín crossed the line in 9:58, with Clare rallying strongly on the final lap to finish in 10.38  and take the county title (Róisín being a guest). Jackie, looking full of running, was next in 11:29, the first O50 athlete, with Belinda Kehoe (SBR) next to finish, winning a county senior bronze and O35 gold. 

Eighteen athletes toed the line in the men’s 5000 metres. At the crack of the starter’s pistol, Sean Hehir (Croghan) and guest runner Robert Mooney (Slí Chulainn) took to the front, quickly leaving the rest behind. A pack of five did detach themselves from the main body and move ahead without ever entertaining thoughts of giving chase to the leaders. Two laps in, and the gap between the front two and everybody else had widened. The leading pair pushed on at a relentless pace, beginning to lap the slower runners first and picking their way through the rest of the field.

Three laps completed, and the pain has truly begun to set in for everyone involved. Every time Hehir seemed to be pulling away from Mooney, the latter dug in and pulled alongside, until eventually the pressure told and Hehir opened a gap. Despite Mooney pushing as hard as he could, the gap began to widen. Meanwhile, back with the chasing pack, the battle for third place was underway with Adam O’Connor (United Striders) vying with Sammy Delaney (WMC). Hearing the jingle of the lap-to-go bell, Hehir took off like a scalded cat. He finished strongly in 15.43. Mooney found hidden reserves of strength to finish with a flourish in 15:59. Adam O’Connor took third place in 17:23, with Delaney next in 17:24.

The senior women’s 800 metres saw four athletes complete the first lap together. Approaching the bell, DMP’s Aoife Walsh moved ahead and quickly opened a gap. Róisín O’Reilly and Clare Barret did not try to cover the break, both obviously feeling the effects of the earlier race in their legs. Aoife looked smooth as silk through the final lap and she crossed the line in 2:20 with Róisín 7 seconds back in 2nd place, less than one second ahead of another guest runner Faye McEvoy of Ballyroan & District with Clare a few seconds behind her. Belinda Kehoe (SBR) took the O35 title and Mary Gaynor the O50 title.

Robert Mooney and Sean Hehir led out the men’s 800 metres, the race bearing a startling similarity to the earlier duel between the two. This one would have a different outcome, however, with Mooney pulling away from Hehir on the final lap and winning in 2:11.

Seán Hehir, who appears to have no stop button, immediately set off again in the O35 800 metres, before deciding that two consecutive 800 metre races following a tough 5km might be pushing it. He sensibly pulled up at 200m. Brendan Dunne (SBR) went on to take the O35 title in a time of 2:20. 

Richard Fortune celebrated his return to competitive athletics by taking the O50 800 metres. 

Esther O’Leary (Slaney Olympic) won the women’s 2000 metres race walk in 15.14, with clubmate Margaret Cahill just behind in 15.16. Sharron Dier was first O50 athlete to finish.

The experienced John Egan of St. Killian’s AC ran away with the men’s 3000 metres walk in an impressive 15.26. 

In the men’s 3000 metres steeplechase, spirits were high and competitors appeared to be unaware of the pain that lay ahead. This is how our on the spot reporter saw it: “A gap begins to form, with Alan Dempsey and Dave Doran, both guests from lands further north, taking the lead. 4 laps have passed, and the fatigue of clearing the barriers and negotiating the water-jump is starting to show. But then something changes: Paul Gibbons, who has been holding down third spot, begins to move. With 2 laps to go, Gibbons is bearing down on Dempsey and Doran. He passes them with a lap to go and his last lap is one of triumph, his water jump now a leap of victory. He takes the win in 12:24, with Dempsey second and Doran just being behind him in third.” 

Helen Wallace of Menapians won the women’s steeplechase ahead of Jelena McNamara of Enniscorthy. 

DMP won the women’s 4×400 metres relay ahead of Menapians in 2nd and 3rd place. The men’s title went to Enniscorthy ahead of Slaney Olympic in 2nd and Menapians 3rd. 

In men’s shot put, a mere 0.11 metre separated first placed Peter O’Connor (9.56 metres) from runner-up Dushan Radicanin (9.45), both of Enniscorthy AC. Dushan took the O35 title. The O50 went to Croghan’s William Hurt Tyrrell whose 12.37 metre effort was almost 4m ahead of anyone else. 

Senior women’s shot was won by Áine Cullen (United Striders) in 6.97 metres; Maggie O’Connor (Enniscorthy) was a close second (6.77). With those throws Áine and Maggie won the O35 and O50 categories respectively, along with taking senior gold and silver.

Maggie won the women’s javelin with a throw of 20.92m, almost 9m ahead of her clubmate Deirdre Bowers Kavanagh. She then went on to win the O50 javelin as well (18.71). The O35 title was claimed by another Enniscorthy athlete, Lisa Breen, with a throw of 14.97m.

Continuing with Enniscorthy’s strength in the throwing events,  Peter O’Connor set the men’s javelin competition on fire with a soaring throw of 34.88m. That was more than enough to give him the senior title. The O35 event was won by walks specialist John Egan (22.92) and John O’Connor was best of the O50s with 26.37 metres. 

And so ends the county’s track and field season for another year. 

Report by Luca O’Connor of United Striders and Aoife Lyng took the best of the photographs.