Wexford Athletes on form at final weekend of National Juvenile Championships

Wexford athletes enjoyed spectacular success in Tullamore last weekend at the concluding stages of the Irish Life Health National Juvenile T&F Championships. The sweltering conditions meant that there were frequent reminders to athletes and spectators to shelter from the sun and to stay hydrated. Athletes in Ireland do not usually need to give a second thought to how best to warm up while staying cool!

Two Wexford athletes who have made headlines in the recent past were once again turning heads, wowing their growing bands of fans and drawing knowing nods of appreciation from the cognoscenti.

Michael Kent, DMP, equalled his 1.90 metres pb in winning under 16 high jump. He then went on to set a championship best performance in winning the triple jump with a huge final jump of 13.51 metres. That it? Not quite: he shared the honours in pole vault with Alex Neff of Leevale AC, both clearing 3.80 metres.

Dannan Long, Enniscorthy, has been having a stellar year thusfar, and it continued in that fashion in Tullamore. He won under 18 high jump, clearing 1.95m (pb). He won his 100m heat (11.23s) and placed 2nd in the final in 11.26s, 0.03 behind the winner. He followed up by winning, in some style, the 200 metres in 22.32 seconds, a pb.

Both Dannan and Michael will be taking it easy this week as they prepare for this Saturday’s schools international in Belfast.

Adamstown’s Ciara Mooney, daughter of former international Marie Walsh-Mooney, was second in under 18 3000 metres walk in a new personal best time, 15.25.87 minutes.

First time All-Ireland competitor Jack Browne, Enniscorthy AC, jumped a new best performance of 5.40 metres in under 15 long jump to win a bronze medal.

Saidhbhe Byrne, Enniscorthy AC, improved on her recent best in javelin of 36.10 metres with a big 38.19 metres throw to take the under 19 silver. She has her eye on 40 metres! Saidhbhe was 5th in long jump (4.91m), one place, and three centimetres, ahead of DMP’s Rachel Gregg (4.88m).

Abbie Doyle, Bree AC, versatile athlete that she is, recently switched her focus from sprints/hurdles to triple jump. This decision paid dividends last weekend with Abbie getting third in the under 17 event, hopping, skipping and jumping a 10.54 metre personal best leap.

There was bronze also for Orlaith Deegan of SBR in under 18 high jump. She cleared 1.60 metres (pb), just 3 cm behind the winner and same height as the silver medalist. Orlaith was 5th in 400 metres hurdles.

Wexford girl Cara Morrissey, now with Carlow club SLOT, won under 16 pole vault clearing 2.80 metres (pb).

Wexford was well represented in the 3000 metres races. Maria Coone, DMP, placed 5th in under 16 3000 metres; clubmate Aoife Walsh was 8th. Another of the club’s distance stars, Claragh Keane, recently returned from the European Athletics Off-Road Running Championships, was 6th in under 19 3000 metres. Sean Lennon, United Striders, was 10th in under 17 3000m.

Eimear Halpin of Menapians has shown that hard work does pay off with good success at county and provincial levels in recent months. She was unfortunate not to make the podium when placing 4th in under 19 400 metres hurdles and 5th in discus.

Oisín Carroll, Menapians, was another of those to compete at this level for the first time. Having won under 16 hammer (4kg) at both county and Leinster levels, big expectations may have been weighing on his broad shoulders. Just three of his six throws were legal and his best effort of 23.24 metres was good enough for 6th place. With a little tweaking expect to see this exciting young prospect challenging for a podium place next year.

Jayden Kenny, Bree, was unable to match his 2nd place Leinster silver medal winning performance when finishing 12th in under 14 long jump. A talented and committed athlete, one of Bree’s best, he may have been a little off-form. As the prime minister of a neighbouring country said recently in his resignation speech: ‘Them’s the breaks!’.

Lea Bolger, another of Bree’s young stars, was 9th in under 14 shot. Craanford’s Muireann Kavanagh followed up on a medal-winning performances at Leinster level to place 7th in under 15 shot.

Cara Kelly, DMP, was 6th in under 17 300 metres hurdles final and 4th in her 400m heat. Her clubmate Nicole Lageu, more used to middle distance and enjoying her first outing at this event, was 7th, with a pb, in her heat of under 16 250 metres hurdles.

Aoife Walsh (DMP) was 10th in under 16 1500 metres and Max Murphy (United Striders) was 10th in under 15 1500 metres in a new best time of 4:33.12.

It is worth mentioning that many of these athletes have been training and competing since the start of the cross country season last Autumn. Take Nicole and Aoife: both were on the DMP team that placed second at the Leinster Cross Country Championships, yet here they are still racing in mid July. They can now look forward to enjoying their Summer break before starting it all again in September.

Juvenile athletics action continues in Tullamore next weekend with the Irish Life Health Juvenile B Championships and Relays.