Fantastic Performance by Maria McNamara on her Irish Debut

Fantastic Performance by Maria McNamara on her Irish Debut


Maria McNamara became the seventh juvenile athlete from the club to be selected for international duty when chosen to represent Ireland in the Home Countries International Combined Events where she put in an incredible performance at the weekend to produce 6 new personal bests over the 7 events.

The competition was held in Stoke-on-Trent in the UK and Maria was part of a 5-strong Irish women’s team which comprised senior, u23, u20 and u17 athletes. Her selection was based on a fine performance when winning the Irish U17 Heptathlon a few weeks ago. It was a fantastic experience for Maria with such a great performance and the buzz of being part of an international team, not to mention all the Irish gear that she now proudly owns. 

It was the first time in a number of years that Ireland fielded an international multi-events team besides the annual schools team. Maria's fine performances helped Ireland to 3rd place behind England and Scotland and ahead of Wales.

Saturday kicked off with the 80m hurdles….

Maria was the first of the Irish team into action, perhaps adding a little extra nerves to the occasion. With a number of 12.2 athletes in the line-up, it was going to be a difficult battle for her – but she responded magnificently to the challenge when racing to a PB of 13.11 – over a half-second improvement on her National time of 13.68 and a club record for the U17 age group.

Maria followed this up with some superb jumping in the high jump. Entering the competition at 1.38m, Maria recorded 7 clean jumps over 1.38, 1.41, 1.44, 1.47, 1.50, 1.53 and 1.56m – with the latter being an outdoor PB and the highest she has jumped since her indoor PB of 1.60m in March. With the bar at 1.59m, Maria put in 3 excellent attempts to clear it each time but just catch it with her legs on the way down – a height for another day!

The shot putt provided the next PB of the day with a big throw of 7.78m with the 4kg weight. The normal weight for the U17 age group in Ireland is 3.25kg, but the step-up to the heavier weight proved no obstacle – in the process setting a new club record in the event ahead of the old record of 7.44m held by Sarah Finnegan from 2010. Final event of day 1 saw yet another PB, this time in the 200m by the tiniest of margins of one-hundredth of a second when Maria ran 28.92 compared to her 28.91 in the National championships.

So with 4 PBs from day 1, confidence was high of a good overall performance and day 2 did not dissappoint in this regard. First event up was the long jump where Maria commenced with a jump from a safe mark to record 4.36m. For the combined events, its advisable to start behind your mark so as not to break your first jump – as it puts pressure on the 2nd and 3rd jump since you only get 3 attempts and 3 breaks = 0 points! The second effort of 4.66m was probably the best technical jump of the 3 – with Maria taking off from a few cm away from the board. On her final attempt, Maria leaped 4.74m – only 11cm short of her outdoor PB.

Next event up was the javelin where Maria yet again recorded a big PB and in the process set another club record with her 23.98m throw which surpassed the old record of 23.63m set by Kelly O’Donoghue in 2008.The final event and Maria’s favourite (CoolCoolCool) was the 800m. With a 2.44.7 PB from earlier in the year, Maria set out with a target of running sub-40 for each 200m which would bring her under 2.40 for the distance. Running 39.2 in the first quarter, things were looking good. This was followed up with a 41.3 for the next quarter, 41.5 for the third quarter and a strong final quarter of 38.6 to give an excellent improvement of 4 seconds and a PB time of 2.40.66.

These events yielded a total of 3714 points – a huge improvement of 330 points on Maria’s winning score in the Irish National championships. The club are immensely proud of Maria's achievements at the weekend which are a great encouragement for her and very well deserved. Thank you also to the Irish team management of Kieran Stout and Lucy Moore who orchestrated a stress-free weekend for the athletes allowing them to get the best out of themselves over the 2 days.

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