Wexford athletes impress at Secondary School T&F Championships    

Wexford secondary schools pulled out all the stops to ensure their athletes made it, in good shape, to the traditional early season-opener that is the South Leinster Schools Track & Field Championships. The competition was held over two days, Thursday 4th May and Tuesday 9th May, at SETU Carlow’s sports grounds, the minor and junior events taking place the first day, with the older athletes in action on day 2. 

The South Leinster’s are a mere stepping stone to the provincial championships. And it is only at that stage, when the best in Leinster lock horns, that the sparks really fly. That said, one must first negotiate the stepping stones. And here we must issue a spoiler alert for what follows below: Wexford’s best negotiated those stepping stones with the greatest of deftness and finesse. The medal rush over the two days did nothing more than reflect the wealth of athletic talent of which the county can presently boast.

The bulk of the Wexford medals in the jumping events came in jumps of the horizontal kind – long and triple. Daniel Redmond got the ball rolling with a win in minor boys long jump, pipping fellow Good Counsel pupil Kyle Bolger into second. Staying with long jump, Jack Browne (FCJ Bunclody) won the junior boys event with Artem Kelly (Meanscoil Gharman) taking the runner up spot, Rayna Thompson (Presentation Wexford) won junior girls and Chloe Reck (Coláiste Bhríde) was best of the under 16 girls. Two Wexford athletes made the podium for intermediate long jump, Michael Kent (Good Counsel) impressively winning and, in the process, breaking the old record, and Ciaran Kelly (Wexford CBS) taking the bronze.  

Triple Jump also brought success for Wexford, with three students of Bridgetown College leading the way: Ryan Scott won intermediate gold, schoolmate Ben Kelly taking the silver; Ava Barry was 3rd in junior girls. There was also bronze for Eoin Browne (Wexford CBS) at senior level, while Wexford camogie star Abbie Doyle (Coláiste Bhríde) won intermediate silver. 

In high jump, Neasa Long (FCJ Bunclody) was 2nd in junior girls, while Michael Kent won the intermediate competition with Ciarán Kelly (St. Peters) once again just behind him in 3rd spot.

Dannan Long (FCJ Bunclody) looked majestic as he cruised to facile wins in senior 100 metres and 200 metres. A talented high jumper, Dannan has in recent times concentrated on sprints, to great effect. He will no doubt be relishing the prospect of moving up a gear at the Leinster Championships later this month. 

Cara Kelly (Loreto Wexford) ran confidently in the 300m Intermediate race to take the win; she then put her hurdling technique to good use in 300m hurdles, adding a bronze to her haul. Lea Bolger (Loreto Wexford) was 2nd in junior sprint hurdles. Stephanie O’ Connor (Coláiste Bhríde) placed 2nd in under 16 200 metres. 

St. Mary’s New Ross were runners-up in under 16 4 x 300m relay. Indeed, it was good to see Wexford schools fielding so many relay teams. This is to be applauded as it can often be difficult to get a group of sprinters of this calibre to train and commit at this level. 

Following a successful winter campaign, Wexford’s top underage middle-distance athletes were out again in force and looking very much like they are ready to pick up from where they left off.

At under 16 level, Max Murphy (Good Counsel) was runner-up and Éabha Keane (Presentation) 3rd in their mile races. Emma Hickey (St. Mary’s New Ross) was an emphatic winner of the junior 1500 metres. Ruby Gallagher O’Reilly (Gorey CS) was 2nd in junior 800 metres. At intermediate level, Maria Coone (Loreto Wexford) was a clear winner of the 3000m race and her school mate Aoife Walsh was 3rd in the 800 metres. Kate Hayden (St. Mary’s New Ross) and Kyle Bolger won bronze medals at minor level over the unusual 1100 metres distance. 

There were medals across the board in the throwing events. Lea Bolger added junior hammer gold to her hurdles silver. Aisleann Mullally (Our Lady of Lourdes Rosbercon) was second in both junior shot put and javelin. Also achieving this particular double, this time at senior level, was GAA star and recent award-winning multi-eventer, Saidbhe Byrne (Coláiste Bhríde, Carnew). She was delighted at throwing a tasty 38m season-opener in javelin.

Shannon Codd (Presentation Wexford) was 2nd in inter hammer, while Shay Ellard (Bridgetown College) was 3rd in under 16 shot put. James Prendergast (Good Counsel) got a silver medal in junior shot put and Elijah Page Redmond (St. Peter’s) was third in junior javelin. Bláthnaid Ní Chulainn (Meanscoil Gharman) and Sean Halpin (St. Peter’s) both won bronze medals in minor discus. 

When it comes to the walks, Ciara Mooney (St. Mary’s New Ross) has been to the fore since her early teens. She won the senior 3000 metres walk in a confident and forthright manner. Versatile Maria Coone, still a relative newcomer to racewalking, added inter 2000m walk gold to her 3000m gold. Lily Ryan (OLOL Rosbercon) won the junior 1200m walk (and her fellow St Joseph’s AC member, Evan Walsh (CBS Kilkenny) won the junior boys walk).

A special word of a praise for the teachers at the various participating schools who, year in and year out, ensure that their athletes are properly entered, prepared, primed and transported to this event. The southern part of the province, stretching from Wexford up to Offaly/Kildare and west across to Roscrea, is home to a great many second-level schools. This means a great many athletes. Consequently, the day is long, with many students and teachers starting out as early as 7am and not getting home until after 9pm. That takes dedication and perseverance. Ergo, let’s hear it for teachers!

Well done to all those who competed and best wishes to those who now go on to represent their schools at Leinster level. 

FULL WEXFORD RESULTS ……. Photographs taken by those aforementioned hard-working teachers.