The second and concluding day of the Mr Oil Wexford Track & Field Championships took place last Wednesday at Enniscorthy Sports Hub. Once again, senior and master athletes were joined by those transitioning from underage (U18, U19). With the current period of fine weather continuing, conditions were ideal, apart from a stiffish wind which made its presence felt on the back straight. While there were some cracking head-to-heads in some events and a sprinkling of solo virtuoso performances, overall numbers competing were down across all events. This is an issue which must surely be of some concern, not just to Athletics Wexford, but to the national governing body as it is a trend seen across the country.
On the plus side, Wexford has some fine young athletes coming through who have already shown themselves to be top of the class domestically and who, with proper handling, can look forward to representing their country at the highest level.
One of these is Enniscorthy’s Blanaid Fogarty who, in 2021 was selected to travel to the European Under-20 T&F Championships with the Irish 4 x 400 metres relay team. She looked a class apart in Enniscorthy as she cruised around the track to win the 400 metres. She also easily took the 100 metres title and helped her club to relay gold.
Dannan Long is another of the Enniscorthy thoroughbreds with a big future ahead of him. He was happy to use this meet as a warm up for what turned out to be a very successful trip to last weekend’s national championships. He took the county 100m title ahead of Shane O’Neill of Menapians and Enniscorthy stalwart John O’Connor. In javelin, he had 10 cm to spare on Menapians master athlete Michael Halpin, the latter rewarded with the O35 title. Dannan rounded out the day winning a third gold medal in the relay.
While it may appear a tad biased to keep the spotlight on Enniscorthy, there is one other athlete from those parts who commands our attention, one who looks set to replicate her underage success at senior ranks. The previous week at the same venue, combined events specialist Saidhbhe Byrne showed that she is the athletics equivalent of a one-woman-band, such was her proficiency across various disciplines. She continued in a similar vein this time out. She won 400 metres hurdles and javelin, the latter with a best effort of 34.60 metres. In 100 metres, she placed 2nd to her more experienced and more senior clubmate Blanaid Fogarty, and, along with Blanaid, Maggie O’Connor and Jelena McNamara, she won relay gold. As with Dannan, Enniscorthy served as a preamble to the All-Ireland’s.
DMP’s Clare Barrett, 3rd in 3000 metres a week earlier, trotted around the 7.5 laps of the of the 3k steeplechase to win with ease. Photographers and thrill-seekers are inclined to gravitate to the water-jump especially if they hear there are first-timers trying their luck. Suffice to say that there were no fallers!
Róisín O’Reilly of Menapians, second the previous week in 3000 metres, won the 1500 metres ahead of Clare.
Indeed, quite a few middle distance athletes doubled up. Sabina Sweeney, Slaney Olympic, won O50 800 metres and 3000 metres. Joe Lillis, United Striders, won O35 800 metres and 3000 metres, and took bronze in senior 1500 metres.
Stewart Moloney (Moreabbey Milers), competing as a guest, was first across the line in the senior men’s 3000m, although the fast-finishing Adam O’Connor (United Striders), the 1500 metres champion, was gaining on him. Adam did not catch him but he did take the novice title.
Kilmore’s Fiona Kehoe made short work of the two laps of the 800 metres race, racing away from the field to claim the O35 title. Striders’ athlete Sandra Young who finished second to Fiona, was a convincing winner of the O35 3000 metres.
Áine Byrne of Croghan had a successful championships with wins in under 18 800 metres and javelin.
As usual John and Maggie O’Connor were busy multi-tasking at throws and sprints events through the evening.
Results for day 2 of Co T&F Championships