ATHLETES, together with their mentors and families, gathered in the restaurant at Gowran Park Racecourse on Friday night to celebrate the achievements and successes of the 2012 season.
Rewards were presented to a number of athletes in recognition of their achievements at county, provincial, national and, for some, international level. Looking at the achievements of these athletes alone it certainly was a remarkable year for the county.
The Masters Award for 2012 went to Pat Power (St Joseph’s). In the county track & field championships Pat won gold medals in the masters 100m and long jump, while also finishing second and third in the senior 200m and 100m. At the Leinster Indoors he was second in the 60m, first in the long jump and second in the high jump.
Further success followed at the national indoors, where Pat won gold and silver in the 60m and 200m. In the national outdoor championships he was second and third in the long and high jumps respectively, while he also won a silver medal in the masters combined national championships.
Sophie Parkinson (Gowran) was the worthy winner of the Junior Award. Her county championships ended with treble gold in the senior ladies javelin, shot and discus and a bronze medal in the long jump. Parkinson was also a gold medal winner in the indoor and outdoor Leinster shot-put, and captured discus gold with a championship best performance (CBP) of 41.92m.
At national level the Gowran athlete won gold in the indoor shot and outdoor discus and a bronze medal in the shot. She also won the shot-put gold in the AAI games.
The Juvenile Track & Field Award went to Ciara Deely from Kilkenny City Harriers (KCH). Her successful season included a golden treble in the Leinster indoor track & field championships, where she won gold in the 60m hurdles, long jump and the high jump, where she also set a new CBP of 1.42m. She repeated that feat in the outdoors championship, winning all three events again and setting a CBP of 1.5m in the high jump.
At county level Deely won gold in the high jump, 200m and 500m and a silver medal in the 80m event. Nationally she finished first in the long jump and 60m hurdles and was third in the high jump indoors, winning all three events in the outdoor categories.
A series of strong finishes throughout 2012 saw Ciara O’Keeffe (Thomastown) earn the Juvenile Cross-Country Award.
She won gold medals in the girls’ under-11 and under-12 events in the county cross-country championships, finishing third and eighth respectively at Leinster level, where she also won a team bronze. At national level Ciara was sixth overall in the under-11 race, a performance which saw her land a silver medal with the Leinster team and a bronze medal with her club team.
The Senior Cross-Country Award went to Brian Maher (KCH). In 2012 he won the county cross-country title for the eighth year in a row, setting a new record.
In the national inter-counties cross-country championship Maher finished fourth overall, a result which earned him a spot on the Irish team which competed at the European Championships in Budapest. He was also the national 10k track champion and finished first in the 5k race in the final of the National League.
Another Harrier, Michael Bowler, was honoured with the Senior Track & Field Award for 2012. Bowler was a double gold medal winner at the Leinster indoor championships, finishing first in the long jump and 60m hurdles, as well as taking silver in the high jump. At national indoors level he was second in the high jump.
On the county scene Bowler won gold in the 800m final. He was also among the medals in the Leinster outdoor track & field championships, winning bronze in the javelin, discus and combined events. At national outdoors level he earned a silver medal in the high jump and finished fourth in the long jump. In the national under-23 championships he won bronze in both the long jump and high jump.
Isabel Morgan (St Senan’s) walked away with the Race Walking Award on the night. She was a gold medal winner in the Leinster indoor championships at under-14 level, then secured silver national level. She also scored a gold medal in county track & field championships and picked up gold medals at both the Leinster and national track & field championships in her age category.
Ann-Marie O’Grady continued a great night for KCH when she landed the Road Racing Award.
Third in the county 8k championships, O’Grady came home ninth in the Leinster road novice championships, leading club and county to team silver medals.
In the national marathon (Dublin marathon), she was the first Kilkenny female finisher, crossing the line in a time of 3 hours and 16 minutes to lead KCH to fifth place in the team competition.
The International Award went to Joanne Cuddihy (KCH).
Cuddihy’s competitive year began in the Southern Hemisphere, where she won the 400m title in Melbourne in March. A month later she won the 400m at the Australian Open track & field championships. Moving on to Japan in May she won the 400m in Shizurka and placed second in Kawasaki. In June she was a member of the Irish 4x400m relay team which competed in Poland and also qualified for the European track & field championships in Helsinki.
In July she won the national senior 200m and 400m titles in Santry. The top highlight of her year was qualifying for the Olympic Games. Cuddihy celebrated that feat by making the 400m semi-finals in London in August, where she was also a member of the 4x400m Irish relay team.
The KCH junior women’s team finished fifth in the national inter-club cross-country championships in Tullamore on Sunday.
Anna Sheehan continued her good form with an 11th place finish while Aoibhe Richardson ran well to come home in 15th place. Annie Condren (25) and Nicola Murphy (28) completed the scoring.
The Thomastown junior squad finished just behind them in sixth place. They were led home by Maeve O’Connor in 23rd position closely followed by Sinead Whelan (24), Niamh O’Shea (27) and Laura Walpole (31).
In the men’s junior race Thomastown’s Sean Power finished in 18th place.
There was some medal success for Kilkenny in the inter-county juvenile cross-country relays. The KCH team of Rebecca Keane, Ella Richardson, Leah Raggett and Martyna Balcer represented the county in the girls’ under-14 4x250m, finishing with bronze medals as a reward for their good performance.
In the girls’ under-12 relay race Kilkenny were represented by Thomastown. In a very close contest they finished in seventh position. Ciara O’Keeffe, Emily Taylor, Sinead and Orla O’Keeffe made up the Thomastown squad.
Sunday: Country short course cross-country men (4k), women (3k), juvenile cross-country relays for boys and girls (U-11 and U-13 3x250m, U-15 and U-17 3x500m), Freshford 11am.
March 9/10: Leinster Juvenile Indoors, AIT Arena Athlone.