This years National Juvenile Indoor Championships served up a remarkable indoor season for the club where our athletes claimed a total of 12 individual medals – with only 2 clubs in the country winning more medals than us (Ferrybank and St. Lawrence O’Toole). At the final weekend of the Championships, the club had its most successful weekend ever with 7 individual medals and 1 relay medal. This is great encouragement for everyone in the club, particularly given our focus on participation as well as performance as is evidenced by the huge numbers attending training each week at the astroturf.
Leading the way, a magnificent performance from Cathriona Farrell saw her leap 1.65m, 1.70m, 1.73m and 1.77m in quick succession to break the U19 Girls National Indoor record in her final year as a juvenile athlete. With a great display of jumping, Cathriona effortlessly cleared each height and will be confident of making the 1.80m qualification mark for the World Junior Championships later this year.
Tomas Keehan went even higher in the U18 boys’ high jump when he leaped a new PB of 1.80m on his first attempt to take joint 1st and in the process break his own senior club record of 1.75m. Niall Rooney finished 8th in the same event, disappointed on the day but with similar potential in this event as Tomas. The 1.80 jump was a big breakthrough for Tomas and 1.85m looks well within his reach for the outdoors. Tomas is rapidly becoming the club’s most photographed athlete with yet another appearance in the AAI program on the previous weekend – although he may have competition from new recruit and namesake Thomas Porter who is hardly a wet day in the club but yet got his picture up on the AAI website after last week’s 5k series launch in Craughwell!
More club records fell in the middle distance races where Peadar Harvey knocked almost an incredible 11 seconds off his PB in the U18 boys 800m to claim the bronze medal in an exceptional time of 2.02.92 – beating Mark Davis’ old record of 2.08.22 set in 2006. Linda Porter further lowered her own club record in the U17 girls 800m when putting in a huge effort to overtake all bar one of her opponents and claim the silver medal with her trademark finishing kick in another great time of 2.23. Katie O’Donohgue put in a fine performance in the same race to knock 2.5 seconds off her PB from her first indoor 800m in the Connachts and has huge potential for this event when she has more race experience behind her. Katie’s time was 2.34.68.
The success story continued in the race walking events where Emma Byrne competed in her first National finals and took the silver medal in a fantastic time of 5.23.33 in the U14 girls 1000m; Emma’s success was followed by Christopher O’Connor who raced to the bronze medal in the U15 boys 1000m walk in a time of 5.11.74 and by Maeve Curley who claimed the bronze medal in the U19 girls 1500m walk in a time of 7.04.57. Great credit is due to Alison Finn who took on coaching of race walking in the younger ages this year. Alison was fortunate to be able to enlist the assistance of Ann Loughnane on a number of occasions and both Alison and Ann can be proud of the achievements of the race walkers last weekend.
In the U17 boys long jump, David Farrell added a massive 39cm to his PB when finishing 4th – only 6cm away from setting a new club junior record. In fact, only for a break on his 5th jump, David might have finished in the medals as it looked to be a 6m+ jump and 6.01m took the bronze medal. At the same time, Debbie Kenny put in an excellent performance in the U17 girls long jump despite missing a lot of training recently through illness – jumping 4.47m to come within 5cm of her indoor PB and having a slight break on her final jump which was possibly up on a 4.80 or 4.90 jump.
Nicholas Sheehan ran out of track in a highly competitive U15 boys 800m where the leading 3 runners finished in a blanket finish with just 0.12s separating them and Nicholas hot on their heels only a few seconds behind in a time of 2.19.23, Conor Gillen placed 7th in the same event in 2.22.72 – Conor was a little disappointed on the day but it was a very good performance considering possible tiredness from his recent international debut on the Irish Schools cross country team. This race was great experience for both athletes and they will make the National medal podium soon in middle-distance races.
In the relays on the following day, the morning session got underway at 10.30am where Craughwell just had 1 team in action in the uneven ages – the U17 girls 4x200m. The main target for the girls was the 1.56.65 club senior record set in 2006 by Kelly O'Donoghue, Cathriona Farrell, Rachel Finnegan and Rebecca Helebert, with qualification for the final also a goal. The team of Maria McNamara, Katie O’Donoghue, Orla McDaid and Linda Porter ran a blistering race to break the club record in a time of 1.55.35 – perhaps a little unfortunate to be in the same heat as the eventual top 2 Ferrybank and Dooneen who put a sizable gap between them and us as they tore up the track. The girls didn’t make the final but finished in a commendable 6th place overall.
The new club record was short-lived however when the U16 girls team took to the track in the afternoon. With their line-up of Jessica Heneghan, Claire Ryder, Sinead Gaffney and Maria McNamara, the girls ran a very strong race to knock a further 0.7s off the club record when finishing in 1.54.65 and took 6th place overall in their event. That’s an impressive 2 seconds faster than the old 2006 record which had been set by a pretty exceptional team.
The highlight of the relays came earlier in the afternoon session when the U14 boys were our only team on the day to make it to the final 4 – running a time of 1.55.11 in the heat and going nearly 2 seconds faster with 1.53.17 in the final to take the bronze medal in a hotly contested race with their team of Kelvin Olayemi, Conor Duggan, Gavin O’Toole, Aidan Conneely and Damien O’Boyle. Well done to our friends and rivals Nenagh Olympic on winning this relay in an extremely impressive time of 1.50.75. If Sean and Dennis are reading this, we’d like to thank you for your concern about our injuries and all we can say is that we are really looking forward to the outdoors .
The unluckiest result of the day for us came in the U12 boys 4x100m where the team of Brian Loughnane, Daniel Callanan-Forde, Jim Crowley and Isi Richard ran a club U12 record of 58.65s to finish just a fraction of a second away from making the final and having to settle for 5th place. Thanks to Daniel for stepping up from the U11 age group to the team at very short notice due to injuries to both Sam McArdle and Nathan Lynskey.
The U12 girls team finished a narrow 2nd in their 4x100m heat in a time of 63.36 but when the results of the other heats were totted up, the girls were in 9th place overall and didn’t progress to the final. The team was Eimear Loughnane, Emma Gaffney, Shonagh Gilligan, Ashling Keady-Cummins and Derbhla Walsh. The U14 girls ran a strong race in their 4x200m to take 6th place overall in a time of 1.59.38 with their team of Sinead Treacy, Ellen Fitzpatrick, Ellen Treacy, Tara McNally and Siobhan Connolly.