THE LATEST chapter in the story of Irish athletics has a sidenote of Kilkenny history attached to it.
The new indoor arena in Athlone opened its doors on Saturday, making its competitive debut with the staging of the national indoor combined events championships.
Athletes competed in five events: the 60m hurdles and 800m or 100m on the track, along with the high jump, long jump and shot-put.
Kilkenny City Harriers (KCH) athlete Michael Bowler was a clear winner of the senior event, storming his way to the title with a final tally of 3,431 points.
This gave him the distinction of being the first senior athlete to take the podium for the gold medal presentation in the new arena.
It was a good day for the Harriers, who also had two other medal winners in Jack Manning and Catriona Twomey.
Jack won silver in the boys’ under-16 event, achieving a personal best (PB) of 1.61m in the high jump and another of 11.06m in the shot-put as he finished with a points total of 2,994.
For Catriona, who competed in the junior event, her efforts brought a bronze medal.
Her points tally of 2,597 included a PB of 1.58m in the high jump.
St Joseph’s also had success with silver medals for Shannen Dawkins in the youths’ event (3,207 points) and Verena Fenlon in the women’s over-35 event.
Pat Power finished fourth in the men’s over-50 category, while Sophie Becker was ninth in the youths event’ and Austin Lee sixth overall in the men’s event.
Athlone was also the venue for the AAI games on Sunday, with athletes from home and abroad competing.
There was more success for Kilkenny athletes at this meet, with Sophie Parkinson (Gowran) taking silver in the women’s shot-put (10.79m) and Eoin Everard (KCH) bronze from the men’s 800m with a time of 1.52.28.
Another athlete who competed with distinction was KCH sprinter Louise Holmes, who finished sixth position in both the 60m (7.92 seconds) and the 200m (25.47 seconds) sprints.
Results, national indoor combined events:
Boys’ under-16 - 2 Jack Manning (KCH): 60mH, 9.06secs; HJ, 1.61m; LJ, 5.04m; shot-put, 11.06m; 800m, 2.18.04secs (2,994pts).
Youth girls - 2 Shannen Dawkins (St Joseph’s): 60mH, 8.86secs; HJ, 1.65m; LJ, 4.87m; shot-put, 8.7m; 800m, 2.46.19secs (3,207pts); 9 Sophie Becker (St Joseph’s): 60mH, 11.04secs; HJ, 1.29m; LJ, 4.53m; shot-put, 5.8m; 800m, 2.50.73secs (2,080pts).
Junior women - 3 Catriona Twomey (KCH): 60mH, 10.4secs; LJ, 4.67m; shot-put, 9.22m; HJ, 1.58m; 800m, 2.49.81secs (2,597pts).
Senior men - 1 Michael Bowler (KCH): 60mH, 9.11secs; LJ, 6.71m; shot-put, 11.62m; HJ, 1.88m; 1,000m, 2:57:96 (3,431pts); 6 Austin Lee (St Joseph’s): 60mH, 11.68m; LJ, 4.46m; shot, 9.39m; HJ, 1.46m; 1,000m, 3.54.98 (1,588secs).
Masters women (35+) - 2 Verena Fenlon (St Joseph’s): 60mH, 12.39secs; LJ, 3.50m; shot-put, 8.79m; 800m, 2.52.64; HJ, 1.28m (1,658pts).
Masters men (50+) - Pat Power (St Joseph’s): 60m, 8.13secs; LJ, 4.5m; shot-put, 6.3m; 1,000m, 4.03.08 (1,697pts).
Gowran’s Cormac Buggy was a medal winner in the boys’ intermediate race at the recent DCU secondary schools invitational cross-country.
Crossing the line in third place to secure a bronze medal, Cormac also led his school team from St Kieran’s College to first place and the Niall Moyna Shield, which they won with a total of 43 points.
Meanwhile athletes from the KCH club were very much to the fore at the South Leinster schools cross-country championships, which were held at Clongowes Wood College on Thursday last.
Annie O’Connor finished fourth as top scorer for the Loreto minors who lost out on a place in the Leinster finals on countback.
There was better news for the Loreto juniors, who took first place with Grace Richardson and Jennifer O’Keeffe proving to be the pace-setters for the team.
The school’s intermediate team also finished in first place with the added kudos of having Anna Sheehan and Aoibhe Richardson winning individual gold and silver respectively.
The other team members were Nicola Murphy and Margaret Caldbeck.
In the boys’ races St Kieran’s College showed up well, with many KCH athletes in their ranks.
The Kieran’s junior team, which featured Luke Fitzpatrick, Eamon Fennelly, Bill Cody, John Nolan and Jack Manning won silver.
In the Intermediate race the college team won gold with Cormac Buggy (Gowran) winning individual gold and Peter Lynch (KCH) taking the silver. Michael Ryan and Patrick Maher were the team’s other scorers.
Harriers Conor Mahon, Conor Quinlan and Cormac Everard provided the backbone of the St Kieran’s senior squad which finished in second place.
All these athletes will now go forward to the Leinster finals, which will be held in Santry on Wednesday week.
On the road
Brian Maher (KCH) finished in third place in the Raheny 5 on Sunday, crossing the line in a time of 25 minutes.
Tommy Evans (Gowran) was also in action on the road, coming home eighth in the Dungarvan 10 mile with a time of 54.20.
Saturday: Leinster Indoor Championships (day one), AIT Arena, Athlone. Juvenile relays begin at 10.30am with the junior, senior and masters track and field championships starting at 1.30pm.
Sunday: AAI intermediate, masters and juvenile development cross-country championships, Derry.
Wednesday, February 6: Leinster Schools cross-country championships, Santry.
Saturday, February 9: AAI Masters indoor championships, AIT Arena.
Sunday, February 10: AAI junior and under-23 indoor championships, AIT Arena.
Sunday, February 17: County intermediate cross-country and juvenile cross-country relays, Gowran 11am.