While our footballers suffered referee induced agony in Croke Park, a small number of Kildare athletes enjoyed mixed fortunes in the Junior and under 23 Championships in a windy Tullamore Stadium at the weekend.
And the wind was a major factor in the outcome of the Under 23 Women’s 100m Hurdles which was regarded as somewhat of a showdown for the post Derval generation, with the three next in line contending to see who can be viewed as rightful 2nd to the exceptional Cork woman.
There was Mairead Murphy from Ferrybank and UCD, who got the nod in the Indoor Championships in Belfast last Spring, just ahead of our own Sandra Lawler Celbridge AC and DCU, while also in the mix was Kalyn Sheehan (also Ferrybank), currently on Scholarship in the States, and home to fly the banner of the American Collegiate system.
From the start the race was dominated by the home based duo who raced side by side for the first 5 barriers, but then Murphy’s superior technique and speed began to tell and she gradually moved away from Sandra to win in 13.50, ahead of the Kill girl’s 13.91, with Kalyn back in third place. Sandra can take some consolation from the time, her first venture under 14 seconds, even though the 3.5 m/sec following wind prevents her from listing it as a PB.
Much better fortune was enjoyed by St Cocas Paul Robinson in the Under 23 1500m in a race that was regarded by some as a formality for Letterkenny’s Darren McBrearty. From the gun the Kilcock man shadowed the favourite deep in the pack as the field lapped slowly in the first half of the race. Indeed with the favourites so far back and seemingly trapped on the inside it screamed out for one of the outsiders in the big field to go hard from the front and see if the big guns could cope with that!
No such thing happened however, and as the race unfolded in the last 500m McBrearty moved to the front with ease, followed by his shadow, Paul. Then with 100m left Paul produced a devastating kick to leave the Donegal man in second place and prove that when it comes to Championship running, Paul has learned his lessons well.
Just back from a training block at the French Olympic training centre in the Pyrenees, Paul has already qualified for the European under 23 Championships and has been approached by a number of American academic institutions to cross the Atlantic, and interestingly by Sonia O’Sullivan’s former Coach and partner, Nick Bidoulph, to go to Australia for a spell. Paul’s association with Coach Robert Denmead of Tullamore has been an outstanding success, and it would seem a pity to break the partnership while it continues to flourish.
There were lessons to be learned by many young athletes during the course of Sunday’s meet, none harder than that meted out to Newbridge’s Sophie Ellis following her qualification for the 100m Junior final as one of the fastest losers in the heats. Feeling that she had a better chance in the 200m, she did not line up for the 100 final, only to learn when she presented herself in the call room for the second event that she was precluded from competing for missing her earlier final. An IAAF rule!
Better news for Crookstown Millview’s Thomas Hickey who took a Silver Medal in the Junior Shot Putt; in fact it was a great weekend for throwers with new Junior records in both Men’s and Women’s Hammer, the former competition featuring three throwers over 60m. This is an event that Ireland once dominated, Irish born throwers winning more than half of the Hammer medals in all Olympics up to 1932 – albeit mostly competing for the USA – so it is great to see this resurgence.
And on the subject of throwing, last Saturday was another great day for Naas man Oliver Jager, competing for Leinster in the schools Interprovincial competition – the Tailteann Games. For the second week in a row Oliver threw the Shot over 15m, huge throwing in the Irish context where anything over 14m is regarded as exceptional. Oliver is a relative novice at the event and we look forward to his progress over the next few years.
Good news also from the International Festival of Walking in Dublin’s Phoenix Park at the weekends, the under 16 International saw Celbridge’s Sinead O’Connor finish an excellent 3rd in her first International, just ahead of training companion Karen Burke (St Cocas). Well done both girls!