Maria McNamara’s fine form continued at the National finals of the Irish Schools Combined Events recently in Santry, where she qualified for the Irish Schools International in December with a 3rd place finish in the Intermediate Girls grade. Also in fine form, Katie O’Donoghue took the National title in the Senior Girls grade despite being very much under the weather with a bad head cold. Sineád Gaffney added to the fine performances by her Pres Athenry schoolmates when taking 7th place in the Intermediate Girls event, while Damien O’Boyle was also in PB form when placing 10th in the Junior Boys while representing his school Calasantious Oranmore. Read on for details.
Damien racked up an impressive score of 2460 points which included PBs in the high jump 1.55m and long jump 4.71m, along with good performances in the 80m hurdles 14.20, shot putt 7.89m, 200m 27.8 and 800m 2.16.15. The high jump was particularly pleasing for Damien who is showing great potential for this event.
Maria, Sinead and Katie all commenced their day with PBs in the shot putt with Maria throwing 7.91m, Katie 7.62m and Sineád 5.83m. It was followed by the 80m hurdles for Maria and Sineád where they ran 13.5 and 14.9 respectively and by the 100m hurdles for Katie which she completed in a time of 18.8.
The much-anticipated high jump provided yet another set of PBs for the 3 girls. Sineád, who is new to high jump, had a great leap of 1.40m and will go much higher with more practise and confidence. Katie’s bettered her previous PB by 6cm, leaping 1.51m for the first time and in the process becoming the club’s 3rd highest ranked high jumper after Cathriona and Maria – with much more to come from a great athlete. Finally Maria had a superb series of jumps, clearing every height first time through 1.40, 1.45, 1.48, 1.51, 1.54 and 1.57. With 3 big efforts at 1.60m, Mari’s final attempt was considerably over the bar but she just clipped it with her heels at the last minute – fantastic jumping. Next up was the long jump, which was a little more subdued after the ‘highs’ of the high jump with Katie leaping 4.19m, Sineád 4.44m and Maria 4.80m.
Final event for the girls was the 800m. Sineád led the race out at a strong pace running 34 seconds for the first 200m and settling into a lead that she never relinquished for the entire race. Maria and Katie stayed a little further back in the pack, hitting 39/40 seconds for the first 200m – with Katie’s cold not the ideal tonic for a good 800m. Maria was in a comfortable 3rd place overall in the competition at this point and would have had to be beaten by 20 seconds in the 800m by Leinster athlete Amy McTeggart to be dislodged from this position. As the bell sounded for the last lap, Sineád continued to lead at the front with Leinster’s Nessa Millet and Amy McTeggart both edging closer. McTeggart was possibly 40m clear of Maria with 300m to go – but a confident Maria commenced her lap of honour at that point!! With a few waves to her fans as she completed the final 300m, Maria finished just 8 seconds behind her rival to hold onto 3rd position overall – a great result for Maria and very close to her 800m PB in a time of 2.42.86. Meanwhile Sineád had raced to a gutsy 2.33.43 to win the 800m while Katie put in a fine run given her heavy cold with a 2.49.24.
Final scores were 2762 points for Maria to take 3rd place, 2326 for Sineád to take 7th place and 2218 for Katie to take 1st place in the senior girls. A nice finale to the day's events was the article in the Evening Herald the following Thursday where all 3 girls were mentioned.
Maria becomes the second athlete from the club to make the international team in this event, with Cathriona Farrell having made it as a junior in 2006 and an intermediate in 2007. Coincidently, both athletes went to school in Craughwell NS and come from neighbouring townlands – clearly something special in the air around Craughwell!
The club wishes Maria the very best of luck in the international in December.