Some of our athletes after the 800m Finals
John Cormican, Damien O’Boyle, Nicholas Sheehan, Paul Joyce, Keelan Ryan
(many thanks to Mark Davis for the photos in this article!)
It was one of the best weekends in the club’s history
- A bumper crowd at the Craughwell 10 where the ageless Gerry Ryan took bronze in 52:38 and in the process won the Galway 10 Mile road championships.
- Jamie Fallon-Spellman making his Irish debut in Wales where he placed 23rd over the 6000m distance against Ireland’s and Britain’s best.
- Twelve individual medals at the National Juvenile Indoors in Athlone along with countless PBs and a total of 31 top-eight performances.
There were so many highlights in Athlone that it is hard to highlight the best one! So read on for a full report on the weekend highlights in no particular order.
I’ll start with a summary of the medal winning performances. The club really demonstrated its versatility with medals in every one of the athletics disciplines except triple jump. Saturday saw 8 medals in high jump, long jump, shot putt, 60m, 400m, 1500m and race walk while Sunday saw 4 medals in hurdles and 800m – truly great performance for any athletics club.
Neil Greaney and Conor Gillen Observing the Action
The club really came of age in middle distance at the weekend with 4 heart-thumping medal-winning performances in the 1500m and 800m and many other fine performances which on another day would have taken medals.
Finbar McFadden was the first into action on Saturday in the U12 boys 600m where he recorded a fine time of 1.54.41 to place 10th in a high standard race. Damien O’Boyle led the way in the U17 1500m on Saturday. Running a very mature race, Damien avoided giving chase to a runner who opened up a 20m gap on the first lap, opting instead to stay in the pack where he led the way along with North Sligo’s Cian McBride. As the race wound around the track, Damien and Cian started to reel in the leading runner and caught him on the penultimate lap. The Sligo man opened a gap at this point but Damien stuck to his task to take his first National track medal in second place in an exceptional time of 4.12.15 which is also a new club record, eclipsing the old record of 4.12.29 set by Peadar Harvey in 2012.
National U17 Indoor 1500m Silver Medalist 2013
Conor Gillen was unlucky to finish just off the pace when placing 5th in the U18 1500m in a time of 4.18.05 while Neil Greaney placed 9th in a time of 4.17.34 in a high quality U19 1500m race, obtaining a massive 8-second PB for the distance. Ciara Greene wrapped up the 1500m action with an 8th place finish in the U17 1500m in a time of 5.31.57.
Ciara Greene on the start line for the U17 Girls 1500m
The 800m races on Sunday generated huge excitement for the club. In the heats early in the day, Oisin Lyons was first into the fray. This is Oisin’s first track season but one would think he was doing this all his life such was the quality of his performance. Running in the 2nd heat, Oisin knew he had to finish in the top 2 to gain one of the automatic qualifying spots for the final. He maintained his position close to the lead for the first 3 laps and went with the acceleration at the bell. Into the final straight, Oisin and 2 other athletes were almost glued together as they approached the line. Making one last huge effort as he crossed the line, Oisin topped over onto the track behind the finish – but nicked 2nd place on the line in an incredible time of 2.18.19, just 0.10 ahead of 3rd place and 0.11 behind 1st place.
Unfortunately Oisin picked up a strained chest muscle in the exertions of the heats and when the final arrived quite late in the day, Oisin was visibly bothered by it during the race and wasn’t able to find the same burst of speed in the final 200m that had served him so well in the heats. The 2 athletes whom he had tied with in the heats took 2nd and 3rd place – with Oisin finishing in 5th in a time of 2.24.63. Oisin’s heat time was the 3rd fastest of his age group when the times from both the final and the heats are considered so he has the consolation of knowing that he is the 3rd fastest in Ireland and he also set a new club record for this age group.
Next up in the heats, Liam Moran ran a strong race to stay in touch with the U15 leaders for the first half of the race but faded a little in the latter half to record a good time of 2.25.46.
Damien O’Boyle, Silver Medalist in the U17 800m
Damien O’Boyle got the club’s pulse racing when taking silver in the U17 boys final in 2.02.07. Having qualified from his heat comfortably in 2.06.56, Damien ran a tactically perfect race to take his second silver medal of the championships. With Damien on the medal podium, Nicholas Sheehan and John Cormican took to the boards for their final just moments after Damien’s race. With Nicholas winning his heat in 2.03.93 to take one of the automatic qualifying sports and John recording one of the fastest heat times with 2.03.80, it was a proud moment for the club to have 2 men in the 6-man final.
For John, 2 races on the same day proved too much on this occasion and he placed 6th in the final in 2.08.57. Nicholas however was in no mood to finish outside the medals. With a strong initial 400m, Nicholas held his place well in the leading group of 4 despite some shoving on the bends. The placings of the top 4 alternated with different surges over the penultimate lap but Nicholas placed himself firmly in 2nd place at the bell and gave chase to the Trim athlete in the lead. The Trim athlete however was not to be caught and accelerated to a fine time of 1.57.01 to take the gold, with Nicholas second in 1.59.84. While it was absolutely the right choice, one wonders how much more Nicholas would have in the tank had he not spent the previous day in Athlone also when he ran 2 lightening fast 400m races.
Nicholas Sheehan, Silver Medalist in the U18 Boys 800m
Conor Gillen was unlucky not to make the 800m final, finishing 3rd in his heat in 2.04.73 – the 8th fastest time of his age group. Conor would definitely had made the final were it not for the 1500m a day earlier. Our final competitor in the U18 800s, Keelan Ryan knocked a healthy 3 seconds off his PB when racing to a 2.15.08 in his heat. Having been training consistently for the last year and half, Keelan will see a big improvement in his times once he cross the 2 year mark for consistent training.
We had hardly recovered from the excitement of 2 athletes medaling in the 800s in the space of a few minutes when Paul Joyce took to the boards in the final 800m of the day – the U19s. Having won his heat earlier in 2.06.24, Paul was a man on a mission – a sub-2 mission and if someone had put a brick wall in front of him, he’d likely have ran through it in order to achieve his target. A gap opened up early in the 800m final as the eventual winner and 2nd placed athlete slowly pulled away.
As the race progressed, Paul started to chase the top 2 and opened up a gap on the chasing group. With a gap of perhaps 10m at the bell, Paul accelerated some more and as he rounded the final bend, the sub 2 seemed on. Driving down the home straight to the cheers of the watching Craughwell supporters, Paul blasted through the finish line in 1.59.73 to take the bronze medal and becoming the second Craughwell AC athlete to join the exclusive Sub2Club and almost taking Nicholas Sheehan’s 1.59.37 record in the process.
Paul Joyce, Bronze Medalist in the U19 Boys 800m
The table of all-time bests for the 800m makes interesting reading with the majority of the top time set during this indoor season. The outdoor season will provide some interesting battles for the club record.
|1.59.37||Nicholas Sheehan||AAI Open Games||Athlone||27.1.13|
|1.59.73||Paul Joyce||National U19 T&F||Athlone||24.3.13|
|2.01.39||Conor Gillen||AAI Graded Meet||Athlone||23.2.13|
|2.01.88||Damien O’Boyle||National U20 T&F||Athlone||23.2.13|
|2.02.92||Peadar Harvey||National T&F||Nenagh||10.4.10|
|2.03.80||John Cormican||National U18 T&F||Athlone||24.3.13|
|2.05.19||Neil Greaney||AAI Graded Meet||Athlone||23.2.13|
|2.08.22||Mark Davis||Connacht T&F||Nenagh||11.2.06|
|2.11.8||Finn Stoneman||Galway T&F||Nenagh||7.1.12|
|2.14.87||Pádraic Tobin||Connacht T&F||Nenagh||5.3.11|
|2.15.08||Keelan Ryan||National U18 T&F||Athlone||24.3.13|
U12s Lenagh Gilligan and Ryan Gallagher were the stars of the high jump in their first time competing individually on the National stage. Displaying maturity beyond their years both put in excellent performances. Ryan was on first and took a splendid bronze medal with a leap of 1.25m. Ryan sailed over 1.15m, 1.20m and 1.25m on his first attempt each time. It was an unusually high standard of competition for this age group – with 9 boys clearing 1.25m. Ryan made 3 valiant attempts at 1.30m with his last effort being particularly good, just clipping it with his heels to take the bar off. Only 2 of the competitors cleared 1.30m – so Ryan was tied for bronze with 4 others, a fantastic achievement for the young athlete. Alex Evans was competing in the same event but unfortunately struggled on the day and his jumps didn’t go as well as he hoped – but there’s plenty of time to get it right for the outdoors.
Having qualified by the skin of her teeth when taking joint 3rd in the Connacht Indoors with a leap of 1.15m, we all knew that there was more in Lenagh. Clearing 1.05m and 1.10m at her ease, Lenagh got 1.15m at her second attempt. Placed in joint 9th position at that point, Lenagh cleared 1.20m on her second attempt to move up to 6th place and cleared 1.25m on her third attempt to stay in 6th place. With 6 jumpers left at this height, it was a height that would normally have taken a medal in the All-Irelands but not on this occasion. Up the bar went to 1.30m and Lenagh was first to clear it – getting it on her 2nd attempt. With another athlete clearing it on her 2nd attempt and another on her 3rd attempt, Lenagh was now placed 2nd with the bar going up to 1.33m. Having fooled us all up to this point by keeping us on our toes with knocked bars, Lenagh decided enough was enough and sailed over 1.33m on her first attempt to the cheers from the crowd! That put her in 1st place and just one other athlete got the height on her second attempt. Up again to 1.36m, a height which would have set a new Championship record, both athletes failed to clear it – a result which confirmed the gold medal for Lenagh amid wild Ballymana celebrations!
Just a quick note for any reader unfamiliar with high jump scoring – if two jumpers are tied on the same height at the end of the competition, the result is decided on count-back. The judges look at who had the better record at the previous height. In Lenagh’s case, she had cleared it first time and her leading opponent had cleared it on her second attempt. So the victory went to Lenagh. If the jumpers have identical records at the previous height, then the judges count all knocked bars at previous heights and whoever had the fewest wins. In that situation, it doesn’t matter who cleared the most bars – what matters is who knocked the least bars. If the count is the same, it’s a tie – as happened in Ryan’s competition.
Sineád Treacy celebrates after her 5.12m leap in the U17 long jump
and pictured below with her proud parents
Sineád Treacy led the way in the long jump when taking a fine silver medal in the U17 age group. Breaking the 5m barrier for the first time, Sineád leapt an impressive 5.05m twice and her medal-winning 5.12m which is a massive 33cm PB. Matthew McKernan and Jordan Connaghton both broke the 5m barrier for the first time also in the U16 boys long jump with Jordan placing 9th with 5.05m and Matthew jumping an incredible 6 PBs to take 7th place – 5.31, 5.34, 5.15, 4.97, 5.05, 4.97 and 5.07. Matthew’s best jump of 5.34m was an incredible 47cm more than his previous best. Claire Ryder continued to threaten to return to medal-winning ways, leaping a best of 4.77m from behind the board to place 7th in the U18 girls.
Sineád’s performance moves her up to 2nd place on the club’s all-time indoor long jump performances:
|5.25||Cathriona Farrell||Universities T&F||Nenagh||5.2.11|
|5.12||Sineád Treacy||National U17 T&F||Athlone||23.3.13|
|5.06||Maireád McCan||National T&F||Nenagh||31.3.12|
|5.05||Maria McNamara||Connacht T&F||Nenagh||5.3.11|
|5.05||Ashley McDonnell||AAI Games||Nenagh||21.1.12|
|4.89||Claire Ryder||Connacht T&F||Nenagh||5.3.11|
|4.81||Rachel Finnegan||National Junior CE||Nenagh||22.1.11|
|4.77||Rachel Kenny||Connacht T&F||Nenagh||15.3.08|
|4.74||Leah Creaven||National T&F||Nenagh||1.4.06|
|4.67||Sineád Gaffney||Connacht T&F||Claremorris||18.2.12|
While Matthew and Jordan’s move them up to 4th and 7th on the all-time list:-
|6.28||William Finnegan||Indoor Games||Nenagh||15.1.06|
|5.76||David Farrell||National T&F||Nenagh||10.4.10|
|5.38||Tomás Keehan||Indoor Relays||Nenagh||23.1.10|
|5.34||Mathew McKernan||National U16 T&F||Athlone||24.3.13|
|5.26||Peter Treacy||Connacht T&F||Nenagh||5.3.11|
|5.20||Cathal Cronin||Connacht T&F||Nenagh||5.3.11|
|5.05||Jordan Connaughton||National U16 T&F||Athlone||24.3.13|
|5.04||Niall Rooney||Indoor Relays||Nenagh||23.1.10|
|4.99||Darren Kelly||Galway T&F||Nenagh||8.1.11|
|4.85||Cillian Reidy||Connacht T&F||Nenagh||14.2.10|
Aoife Walshe was another to jump a series of 6 PBs when taking 8th place in the U14 long jump. It was great progress for Aoife who made the final 8 for the first time and improved on her 4.01m PB from the Connacht indoors with leaps of 4.16, 4.26, 4.13, 4.15, 4.02 and 4.24. Daniel Callanan-Forde also made the final in the U14 boys, leaping a best of 4.42 to place 7th. Micheál McFadden placed 11th in the U13 boys with 3.91m while Siona Lawless and Alison Leahy placed 10th and 13th in the U13 girls with 3.84m and 3.78m. Alex Evans made his debut in the National long jump finals placing 14th in U12 long jump with a best of 3.55m.
Jerry Keary was unlucky in the U14 boys high jump when he equaled his PB of 1.50m to place 4th overall. Jerry cleared each height on his first attempt and 1.55 would have taken bronze. Sean Delaney cleared 1.40 to place 10th in the same event, things not going as well for Sean as they had in the Connachts.
Aoife Walshe was another to clear every height up to and including a new PB of 1.40m on her first attempt but exited at 1.45. Aoife has great power and technique over the bar and was well clear of 1.40 but tipped it off with her legs. Further improvements will see her edge closer to the podium in the outdoors. Ciana Reidy placed 12th in the same event with 1.25, things not going as well for her either as in the Connachts. Aoife Greene equaled her PB of 1.30m in the U15 girls high jump, showing huge potential for this event, while on Sunday Tara Slattery had an excellent PB of 1.30 to place 9th in the U13 high jump with Claire Broderick also PBing to place 10th with 1.25 and Michael Hand equalling his PB to place 7th in the U13 boys high jump with 1.30m.
800m and cross-country specialist Nicholas Sheehan recently decided to experiment with the 400m sprint and it paid huge dividends for him on Saturday when he raced to a 52.18 in the heats and followed this up with an exceptional 51.14 to take the silver medal in the afternoon final. The finish provided an incredible moment with a blanket 3-man finish resulting in Nicholas hurling himself across the line to finish 0.03 seconds ahead of the bronze medalist and 0.05 seconds behind the gold medalist. Blink and you’d have missed it! This was only his second 400m ever so it was an amazing performance. His time is 1.19s away from the standard of 49.95 for the World Youth championships although Athletics Ireland has set lower standards of 48.15 (A) and 48.65 (B).
Nicholas Sheehan blazing along the boards in the 400m
Sineád Treacy is another to be edging closer to those qualifying marks when she recorded an excellent 25.57s to place 4th in the U17 200m, just missing out on a medal. The World Youth standard is 25.55 but AAI’s A standard is 24.20 and B standard is 24.55. Sineád is also young enough for the European Youth Olympics, where AAI’s standard is 25.30. Her biggest challenge is probably not achieving these times but rather the depth of talent that is in this age group who are all competing for limited places on these international teams. Sineád also placed 5th in the 60m sprint with 7.95 in the final and 7.93 in the heats. Sineád now holds the club’s senior records for both 60m and 200m.
Sineád Treacy leaving the blocks in the 200m final
Tara McNally took a fine bronze medal in the U16 60m final in a time of 8.13 and followed this up with a 6th place finish in the final of the 200m in a time of 26.74. Conor Duggan raced to a new club record in the 60m heats in an impressive time of 7.37 and followed this up with a 6th place finish in the final in a time of 7.41. Conor also recorded a solid 24.17 in the 200m, just shy of the club record of 24.14 that he set in January.
Michelle Duggan had a fantastic time of 8.17 in the heat of the 60m. With the 4th fastest time going into the final, Michelle had ever chance of medaling but unfortunately was DQed for a false start in the finals. There were a huge number of false starts across the sprints in all ages and it’s something that AAI definitely need to look at.
Claire Ryder and Maireád McCan also made a very welcome return to PB-setting in the sprints, with Claire recording 8.37 to improve on her previous best of 8.44 from 2010 and Maireád recording 8.39s when placing 6th in the U19 final, a significant 0.14s improvement on her 8.53 from the 2011 indoor season. The personal bests continued to roll in the sprints with Daniel Callanan-Forde racing to 8.35 in the heats of the U14 boys, Cian Waters sprinting 8.38s in the same heat and Caoimhe O’Donoghue recording an impressive 8.53s in the U14 girls heats.
There is intense competition within the club now for the top female sprinters with 5 of the top-10 best ever sprint times having been recorded in this indoor season as highlighted below:-
|7.93||Sineád Treacy||National U17 T&F||Athlone||23.3.13|
|8.12||Katie O’Donoghue||National U19 T&F||Nenagh||24.3.12|
|8.13||Tara McNally||National U15 T&F||Nenagh||24.3.12|
|8.17||Michelle Duggan||National U15 T&F||Athlone||23.3.13|
|8.36||Jessica Heneghan||National T&F||Nenagh||24.3.12|
|8.37||Claire Ryder||National U18 T&F||Athlone||23.3.13|
|8.39||Maireád McCan||National U19 T&F||Athlone||23.3.13|
|8.50||Cathriona Farrell||Connacht U14 T&F||Nenagh||12.2.05|
|8.53||Caoimhe O’Donoghue||National U14 T&F||Athlone||23.3.13|
|8.89||Rachel Finnegan||AAI Games||Nenagh||21.1.12|
The club continued to pick up medals across the full range of events with Diarmuid Prendergast heaving the shot a huge 11.60m in the U18 grade to take the bronze medal – a fantastic thrown and an event that could be exceptional for Diarmuid in the years ahead. Cian Waters broke the 11m barrier for the first time when taking 5th place in the U14 shot with an impressive 11.15m. Michael Hand placed 6th in U13 shot with a PB of 9.86m, while Sarah McCartin placed 10th in the U12 grade with 5.73m.
Christopher O’Connor wrapped up a super Saturday of action for the club when racing to a time of 7.28.1 to take the silver medal in the U18 1500m race-walk. Christopher’s medal meant that the club had won a medal in every athletics discipline that took place on Saturday, a unique achievement covering the full spectrum of events including sprints, middle-distance, high jump, long jump, shot putt and race walk.
With Sunday’s action incorporating hurdles, 800s and 200s, the hurdles was the only discipline that the club had not won a medal in this weekend but Michelle Duggan put paid to that with a blistering performance in the U15 girls event. Putting the disappointment of her DQ in the sprint on Saturday behind her, Michelle raced to an exceptional silver medal in the hurdles in a time of 9.36. Conor made it a very successful weekend for the Duggan family with a fine 9.22 in the final of the U17 60m hurdles.
Michelle Duggan with her mum and hurdles coach Patricia
Daniel Callanan-Forde suffered a big disappointment in the hurdles when he had to withdraw from the heats due to a hand injury he suffered on his final jump in the U14 long jump. Daniel sprained his wrist in an awkward landing and had to get it bandaged up by the first aid personnel. It was too sore to bear any weight so it would not have been possible for Daniel to use the blocks. Daniel is the reigning National champion in the outdoor hurdles so it was a bit of a blow for him to miss his top event, but the outdoors are not all that far away and he will have the opportunity to show his talent again then.
So that wrapped up an incredibly successful weekend of action with 12 medals and 31 top 8 placings and countless personal best performances. We’ll be sad to see the end of the indoor season – we still have the relays to look forward to in 2 weeks time. We won’t know it before the outdoor season hits us with the season kicking off with the universities track & field in mid-April and the first round of the secondary schools track & field and the end of April.
Full results are on Athletics Ireland website: track field. Incidentally from what I can make out, only 1 other club took a greater number of medals from the championships. Craughwell AC took 12 medals while Kilkenny City Harriers took 13 medals.