The All-Ireland Schools T&F is acknowledged by all as one of the top days on the Irish athletics calendar. One is always assured of plenty of tough, close fought and often heroic battles.
Weather conditions were a bit all over the place in Tullamore last Saturday. The early rain blew over leaving behind a day that was cloudy, close and muggy one minute, scorching hot the next. Either way it was energy-sapping, especially for those competing in the middle distance events.
Weather conditions notwithstanding, there were plenty of highlights from a Wexford point of view.
Darra Casey (Enniscorthy CBS) was a convincing winner of the Inter 100m Hurdles in a time of 13.92s.
Lystus Ebosele (Coláiste Bhríde Enniscorthy) won the Senior Discus with a best effort of 36.22m, just 15 cms ahead of Marguerite Furlong (St Mary’s New Ross) who took the silver.
There was a 1-2-3 for Wexford in Senior Girls Shot with Lystus once again taking the gold, her second round effort of 11.77m being the best of a consistent series. Erin Van Straaten (Bridgetown College) had a best of 10.32m to take the silver and Marguerite Furlong took the bronze with 9.62m.
Padraig Hore (CBS New Ross) was runner up in both Senior Discus (42.61m) and Shot (14.37m). In the latter he was a mere 4 cms behind the winner.
Peter McDonald of Good Counsel New Ross won the Junior Javelin (600g) with a fantastic final round throw of 48.70m.
Sonia Mooney of Mercy New Ross was 5th in Senior Javelin. Schoolmate Tara Doyle was 6th in Senior Triple Jump (10.55m).
Gergely Pap (CBS Wexford) won the Inter Shot (14.33m) and was 2nd in Discus (37.51m).
In the penultimate round of the Inter Girls Discus, Eimear Halpin (Loreto Wexford) hurled the disc out to 29.05 metres to secure the bronze. Aisling O’Brien of St Mary’s New Ross placed 5th (26.44m).
Bronagh O’Hanlon (Pres Wexford) placed 5th in Senior Hammer (32.25m).
Trinni Jurisoo (Pres Wexford) placed 5th in Junior Girls Hammer (37.63m).
Circumstances may have played a part in keeping Orlaith Deegan (FCJ Bunclody) off the podium. She arrived, with her mum, at Morton Stadium, Santry in plenty of time for her Junior Girls High Jump. Time to panic! Orlaith arrived in Tullamore with minutes to spare before the start of her event and no time for warmup. She went on to place 5th jumping 1.50m.
James Hanlon (Ramsgrange CS) won silver in Inter Boy’s 2km Walk (9.27.56 mins).
Bridín Doyle (Coláiste Bhríde, Carnew) placed 3rd in the Junior 1200m Walk (5.57.66 mins).
Her schoolmate Saidhbhe Byrne was 2nd in Junior Javelin (38.02). It took a pb (39.17m) by Strabane’s Ellie McCurdy to beat her.
Rachel Gregg (Pres Wexford) won bronze in Junior Triple Jump with her final effort of 9.92, just 5 cms behind silver. This was a fine result especially as she was forced to shorten her run-up at the insistence of the event officials. Sometimes in schools athletics there are deviations from the norm when it comes to rules and regs!
Maeve Hayes (Loreto Wexford) was somewhat off her best as she placed 6th in Senior Long Jump and 8th in High Jump.
Jack Forde CBS Wexford) was unfortunate to place 4th, on countback, in the Inter High Jump with the two athletes ahead of him on the same height (1.80m).
Wexford schools made their mark in the middle distance events.
Claragh Keane (Presentation Wexford) showed great pace-judgement and patience in the Inter Girls 3000m race. While schools cross country champ Niamh O’Mahoney engaged in her trade-mark front-running strategy, Claragh stayed back in the chasing group and bided her time. Coming into the finishing straight for the final time she looked to be shaping up to hold onto bronze. That was when she hit the turbo boost and got up for the silver. Great run.
Myles Hewlett (CBS New Ross) was one of the key players in a very competitive and entertaining Junior 1500m race. With two laps to go Myles took the lead and proceeded to shake up the pack with a serious injection of pace. Coming up to the bell he was nearly taken out of the race by an inattentive official steeping on to the track. Myles checked his pace as his pursuers moved ahead of him. Down the back straight Kilmacow’s super-talented Tadgh Connolly moved ahead with Myles back in 4th but looking strong. Around the top bend and the Wexford lad pulled out all the stops, moving up to 2nd with just Connolly left to catch. However, the same strength that gave the St Senan’s athlete the Schools Cross Country title earlier in the year took him clear of danger and he held on for the gold in 4.19 mins. Myles took the silver in 4.21 mins.
Róisín O’Reilly (Loreto Wexford) was hot favourite to win the Inter 1500m Steeplechase. From early in the race Róisín and Sligo’s Eala McDermot had moved clear of the field and it appeared as though the Wexford girl might have a race on her hands. However, once Róisín had found her rhythm with the barriers she eased into cruise control and opened up a comfortable lead. She went on to take the win in a time of 5.12.68 mins.