St Senan’s athlete Sophie Jackman (bib #1623) on her way to a fourth-place finish in the under-23 800m. Picture: Perri Williams
Athletics fans have been treated to a feast of track and field over the last few days. The World Athletics Championships have begun in Oregon, while racing still continues across Europe.
At home the SIAB Schools International was held in Belfast, while Tullamore was the venue on Saturday for the All-Ireland B and Relays with the Junior and Under-23 All-Irelands being held on Sunday.
At the historic Hayward field in Oregon more than 2000 athletes from over 200 countries have gathered to compete for the prestigious titles on offer. There was delight for Ireland on the opening day as the 4x400m mixed relay team finished second in their heat and qualified for the finals. It was an eighth place finish in the final for the quartet, which included former St Joseph’s athlete Sophie Becker, who qualified for an Olympic final last year and now a World Championship final this year.
Kilkenny had three representatives at the SIAB international in Belfast.
Competing in his first Irish vest Alex Cullen (Kilkenny City Harriers - KCH) finished sixth in the long jump. In doing so, he set a new PB (personal best) of 6.44cm. Alex has taken about 40cm from his PB since last year, quite an achievement!
Billy Coogan (Gowran) finished fourth in the steeplechase. This is Billy’s second appearance at a SIAB international having competed in the steeplechase last year. Billy also set a new PB of 4.22 for the 1,500m event.
There was a big battle for the gold as England’s Sam Reilly and Reiss Marshall (Scotland) battled it out for the final 200m, with both athletes recording 4.18.
Billy is no stranger to the Irish vest as this was his third international appearance in 2022 alone. Back in March he raced in Wales for the SIAB Cross-Country. In June he was on the under-18 track team that competed in France, with Belfast’s SIAB event his third international event of the year.
The final competitor from the county was Andrew Cooper (Gowran). Competing in the shot-put, he finished fourth in 14.52.cm.
The All-Ireland B Championships were held in sun-bathed Tullamore on Saturday.
Finn O’Neill (St Senan’s) earned reward for his efforts when he won gold in the under-14 800m final. A young athlete who turns up to every training session, his coaches looked on with pride as he was presented with his gold medal.
Another athlete who so deserved her gold medal was Grace Delahunty (KCH).
At the Leinster Championships she had a good run in the 200m and qualified for the final where she finished in eighth position. Her 100m did not go too well, but she made up for that race on Saturday by finishing first in the girls’ under-16 100m in a time of 13.33 – almost four seconds faster than her Leinster time, leaving her with plenty to spare over Chloe Reck of St Killian’s AC. Her clubmate Daire O’Flaherty was second in the under-12 600m. A great final 200m run saw Daire move from fourth place into the silver medal spot.
The Kilkenny City Harriers girls’ under-15 relay team who won the All-Ireland B Championships gold in Tullamore
There was more delight for KCH when their girls’ under-15 team of Molly Daly, Aoibhe Quinn, Martha Bergin and Kate Maher took gold in the final of their 4x100m relay. Each athlete played their part with PBs achieved in many of the splits.
There was further joy when the girls’ under-14 team of Kate Maher, Martha Bergin, Emma Hogan and Ellen Daly finished second to the highly experienced Doneen AC of Limerick with Galway’s Craughwell AC in third place. It was medal number two for Martha Bergin and Kate Maher.
Cliodhna Manning, who reduced her 400m PB in the Cork City Sports earlier this month, was in superb form again at the Flanders Cup in Belgium on Friday night. She finished second in the 400m in a time of 52.60, knocking .12 of a second off the PB she set just over a week previous. Manning was gaining on the eventual winner Cynthia Bolingo Mbongo (Belgium) as she came down the home straight, with Mbongo less than a half a second ahead of her.
Unusually, there was a small representation of Kilkenny athletes at this year’s All-Ireland Junior and Under-23 Championships, leading to a smaller medal haul than normal.
Daire Mahon (Gowran) won the junior men’s high jump with a leap of 1.90m for his first junior title. It was silver for Jordan Knight (St Joseph’s) as he jumped a PB of 6.87 in the long jump. Knight achieved no less than four PBs in total in the long jump. The first came in round three when he jumped 6.84cm before, in round five, he jumped 6.87cm.
In what was an eventful competition for the Thomastown native, he also finished third in his heat of the 400m, following this up with a sixth place and great time of 51.36 in the final.
Elsewhere on the day Sophie Jackman (St Senan’s) finished fourth in the under-23 800m. Jackman stayed in the leading group right up to the final 200m, when Lucy Holmes (West Waterford) made her break with Shauna O’Brien (Cork Track Club) chasing hard. This created a small gap, leaving Jackman, Kate Nurse (UCD) and Sarah Clarke (Na Fianna) fighting for bronze.
Jackman passed Nurse with 100m to go and battled all the way to the line with Clarke and was just three-tenths of a second adrift of the third medal.
With two more years still left in this age group she will, no doubt, get that podium position in the years to come.
Cathal O’Reilly (KCH) and Gearoid Long (St Senan’s) were both in the junior men’s 3,000m race. The race was taken out by Ennis duo Dean Casey and Mark Hanarahan, who set a blistering pace. O’Reilly clung to the main group which quickly started to split the field but, by the end of the fourth lap, the pace was proving too much for the KCH man and he started to drift off the main pack.
Meanwhile Gearoid Long, fresh from his brilliant under-18 silver medal last week, was running steadily and managed to pull clear of Sean Lawton (Durrus) over the final 600m. Long finished ninth with O’Reilly in 12th place.
Keelin Duggan (St Senan’s) finished eighth in the junior 3,000m walk, which was won by Mullingar’s Aisling Lane, a recent competitor in the European Under-18 Championships in Jerusalem.
Ross Daly (KCH) competed in the 100m heats and finished fourth in heat four.
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