The club’s younger ages groups were in super form yesterday in Tullamore for the U9-13s National Track & Field Championships.
The U11s led the way on this occasion with Conor Mannion and Jack Hibbitt in sparkling form in the U11 paired 600m competition when racing to fantastic times of 1:52.00 for Conor (3rd in his heat) and a 1:54.65 PB for Jack (4th in his heat). The boys combined times took the silver medals in the paired competition just behind Limerick AC, a fantastic achievement and the 3rd time the pair have medaled in this event having taken silver as U10s in 2022 and gold as U9s in 2021. By my reckoning, these are the 1st and 3rd fastest times ever ran by an U11 athlete in the club for the 600m with the previous fastest being Finbarr McFadden’s time of 1:54.23 ran in the National finals in Cork in 2012.
Also in splendid form, Aaron Burke and Sebastian Oancea won a brilliant bronze medal in the U11 Boys Turbo Javelin with Aaron firing the javelin out to a mighty 20.75m to place 5th individually and Sebastian throwing a super 16.52m to seal the bronze for the pair of them.
And in the relays at the end of the day, the U11 Boys came within a whisker of the podium when despite placing 8th, they were only 0.25 of a second away from the bronze spot when racing to a time of 60.64 in their 4x100m relay with Jack Hibbitt, Conor Mannion, Matthew Drysdale, Taylor Flood and sub Dean Fahy.
The relays also saw fantastic excitement for the club in several other races. The U13 Boys placed 2nd in their heat and 5th overall in a time of 56.45 with Ciaran McNena, Ruairi McNena, Lincoln King, Sean Colleran and subs Darragh O’Donnell and Erik Daniels. It was unfortunate that there were no finals in the relays with all decided on the times from the heats – the races were so finely balanced that a second run in a final might have made a big difference to the results and it also took the sense of achievement of qualifying for a final away from the athletes.
The U12 Girls raced to a fantastic PB time of 59.14 in their heat, knocking more than a second off their Connacht time to place 2nd in their heat and 6th overall with Cerys Johnston, Ruby Maher, Laoise Colleran, Lauren Kelly and subs Lola Whitney-Mangan, Maeve Desbonnet and Reailtin Ward.
The U12 Boys also raced to a big PB of almost 3 seconds when placing 3rd in their heat and 12th overall in a time of 59.05 with Jack McNena, Halle Feerick, Conor Mannion, Taylor Flood and subs Erik Daniels and Rian O’Donnell. The final relay action of the day saw the U13 Girls place 12th overall in their relay in a time of 58.07 with Adele Casserly, Faye Whelan , Grace Drysdale, Sophie Meehan, Jessica Madden and Kate O’Leary – knocking an impressive 2 seconds off their Galway and Connacht times.
Earlier in the day, Lauren Kelly raced to a blistering 8.99 PB to dip under the 9 seconds mark for the first time in the U12 Girls 60m when placing 3rd in her heat and went on to place 7th in the final in 9.15. Lincoln King placed 5th in his heat of the U13 80m in a time of 11.08 and when on to place 8th in the final in 11.38.
The high jump saw a brilliant series of jumps from Kate O’Leary in the U13 Girls event, clearing 1.40m on her first attempt to position herself in the top 4 – but having to settle for 4th place on countback due to some knocked bars at earlier heights. Unlucky for Kate but a huge step forwards to be so close to National medals.
Also in fantastic form in the high jump. Reailtin Ward had a super series of jumps to clear 1.05, 1.10, 1.15, 1.20, 1.25 all her in first attempt and 1.30 on her 3rd attempt to take 5th place overall in the U12 Girls high jump and set a new PB. And not far behind at all, Laoise Colleran and Lauren Kelly had also a fantastic series jumps clearing 1.25m to equal their PBs and take 8th and 9th places overall.
In the long jumps, Faye Whelan and Cerys Johnson were in action with Faye leaping a best of 3.95m to take 15th place in the U13 Girls and Cerys leaping 3.46m to place 17th in the U12 Girls, great experience for both girls and fantastic progress to have qualified for the All-Irelands.
And in the throws, the club had its best individual performance of the day with Danny Mitchell firing the turbo javelin out to a huge 20.24m to finish in 3rd place in the U10 Boys events, a fantastic throw for an U10! Partner Noah Fahy also had a huge throw with a 15.85m effort to place 21st. The U11 Girls pairing of Abigail Machaj and Isabel Maher were also in great throwing form with Abigail placing 10th with a best of 16.83m and Isabel 20th with a best of 13.99m. Final individual competitor in action was Sophie Mullane in the U12 Girls Turbo Javelin. Sophie is another athlete who has made wonderful progress this year and was unlucky to have picked up a hand injury the week before the All-Irelands but this teak tough thrower was undeterred and threw a fine 16.17m to place 17th in spite of the injury.
All in all, it was another great day for the club – 2 sets of National medals, several near misses in the relays and several individuals ever so close to the podium. Well done everybody!