Students on fire in IUAA Indoors 2023
The IUAA championships have grown to be one of my favourite days on the athletics calenedar. The atmosphere is chilled out and supportive, the standards are high and you get to watch the best of the next generation of Irish athletes compete for their colleges.
Craughwell AC had a good group competing again this year with 5 on the track and one in the field. The race of the day from a track perspective was the stacked men’s 3000m. Aside from the superstar Darragh McElhinney, there was a good deep field. Paddy Noonan and Sean Cotter lined up for UoG and as is Paddy’s style, they worked their way forward from the back of the field with Sean just ahead and Paddy tracking in his wake. The start was conservative, with a 2:55 first km. Sean kept moving up until he came to Darragh McElhinney “jogging” half way up the field and then thought “there’s no way I’m passing Darragh” and settled there for a while. Another two laps passed and just at the mile-to-go mark, Darragh palmed the lap timer on his watch and hit the turbo for an incredible 4.01-4.02 last mile to win convincingly with a new IUAA record of 8:05. With Darragh out of the way, Sean and Paddy continued to move up until they came to 3rd and 4th place, just behind Eurocross runner and sub-3:50 1500m man Mark Hanrahan. Paddy passed Sean but Sean moved again to pass Hanrahan with 400m to run – fairly sure that Mark would pass him again in the last 200. That’s how it turned out with the classy Hanrahan of UL/Ennis Track taking 2nd in 8:28 and Sean winning Bronze in a club record 8:30.24 and Paddy just behind in 8:31.84. Both lads were under the old Club Record of 8:32 set by William last year.
If the race of the day was the 3000m, perhaps the performance of the day came form Kyle Moorhead in the 800m. Kyle ended up in heat 1 of the semis and qualified for the final comfortably in 1.58 despite it being a little spicier than we would have liked (the other semis were 2.02/2.03). In the final, Kyle was ready to rumble but the field went out in a pretty slow pace of 30s per lap. Hence they were closely bunched together. At the 100m mark, there was some pushing and Kyle had a slight stumble and lost a few places. He eased back into it and looked to have recovered well, but the bunch was still very tight when they went through 400m in 60s.
Then disaster struck – not sure of the exact mechanics but the lads just ahead of Kyle seemed to slow up slightly and he checked his stride, and with the guys packed around him he somehow tripped over the inside rail to make an audible crash. He lay on the ground for about 4 seconds before hauling himself up and deciding to chase to see if he could get close. His speed over the next 300m was absolutely magestic as he regained contact with the back markers and then almost to the main group. In the end he finished 6th in 2.02 low (probably 2.01 as he had shut it down at the end). 2.02 in a race with one stumble, one massive fall, 4s of lie-ing on the ground and hauling himself up to accelerate again, there is little doubt that this was a PB-level performance. It’s alway impossible to predict, but as the race was won in 1.58 you would have to think that Kyle had every chance of being in that mix.
Next up were the 1500m women, which threatened to be a great race with a dozen girls of similar pbs. Sinéad Gaffney representing UL started out with intent, hitting to the front and driving ahead with her competitors lined up behind her. The busy medical student is in good shape but when the surge came and athletes went around her, she found herself unable to respond on this occasion, finishing with 4.50. Sinead has been a fantastic servant for UL, and has another couple of years to give!
Oisín Davis had been ill the last few days but lined up for UoG in the men’s 1500m. Due to the large field, Oisin and Jack Maher of GCH were seeded in the faster heat based on their pbs. After the u23s in which Oisin did the majority of the work, he decided to sit near the back and try to work his way up. The plan didn’t work out very well as he found himself constantly in lane 2 or 3 and having to bridge gaps between groups. In the end, he finished 6th with 4.00.77, a really good result for such a messy race!. Sub 4 should come very soon! Jack Maher also of UoG had a fine run, showing some veteran craft and wide shoulders to command lane 1 and seal a Bronze Medal with a pb of 3.58.
In the women’s triple jump, Laura Cunningham was in fine form, improving on her recent National League jumps by 37cm with an opening 10.02 leap and following it up with 10.04 on her 2nd attempt and 10.11 on her 5th attempt for 4th place in the competition and unlucky to break by a slender margin on her final attempt which looked to be around 10.40 jump.