Ciara Deely (Kilkenny City Harriers) in action in the junior women's 400m Picture: Sam Barnes, Sportsfile
A sharp and icy wind may have blown across the country at the weekend, but Kilkenny athletes caused temperatures to rise with some hot performances.
January is often a time of year when athletes are in preparation for a second season of cross country or doing some preliminary work for Track and Field.
However, changes to athletics has led to a fixtures-packed calendar, with the national junior and under-23 indoor championships leaping forward into January.
In what was a frenzy of activity, Sunday’s events in Athlone delivered thrilling competition. There were record breaking performances, nail-bitingly close competitions and a great day to celebrate the athleticism of Irish youth.
Kilkenny athletes were well represented at the AIT Arena and took home eight national medals - four were gold.
Pride of place went to Sophie Becker (St Joseph’s) who was a surprise winner in the under-23 60m. A few hours later she completed the double, winning the under-23 200m final.
Sophie is a 400m specialist who chose to drop down in distance for these indoors championships, using the events to build up her pre-season power and speed. Last summer Sophie finished second in the national senior 400m and was part of the Irish 4x400m relay team that took part in the World Championships.
With two indoor titles under her belt all in Kilkenny athletics look forward to seeing her in action in the national senior indoors in a few weeks’ time.
Four for Brow
Brow Rangers of Coon know how to win medals. Not only did they make up the other two gold medals won by Kilkenny athletes, but their athletes accounted for half of the total medals won across the weekend.
John Joe Kelly who recently won the Leinster Star award for best senior athlete, was in action in the under-23s.
The UCD engineering student took a break from studies this weekend to focus on his sporting commitments. The decision proved worthwhile as he won the shot-put and was third in the weight for distance.
The Brow run continued when Kelly’s club-mate Patrick Darcy took gold in the under-23 weight for distance. He was in hard luck in the shot-put, missing out on the bronze medal by just 2cm. Ciara Coady was fifth in the weight for distance while, in the junior weight for distance, Andrew Buggy was third. Buggy was also fifth in the shot-put.
Emma Kelly was another of the fourth-placed athletes, narrowly missing out on the bronze in the junior women’s weight throw. She was also fifth in the shot-put.
With Sophie Becker securing two gold medals, Kilkenny’s other competing athletes were determined to leave Athlone with some honours of their own.
Shane Power (St Joseph’s), who thrives in his specialist event the pole vault, cleared 4m 10cm to finish in second place in the under-23 competition. Shane is son of national jumps coach Pat Power, a familiar face in Irish athletics in the 1980s.
Later in the afternoon Ciara Deely (Kilkenny City Harriers - KCH) capped a fine weekend for the county when finishing second in the junior 400m.
Ciara represented Ireland at the World Juniors last year. This event heralded her bid to get the qualifying time for this year’s European Juniors.
Jordan Knight also represented St Joseph’s and Kilkenny in Athlone. Jordan is under-17 and still has three more years as a junior. He finished seventh in the long jump with a leap of 5.83m – a great early season jump from the 16-year-old. Jordan also ran in the 400m. He was second in the heats but did not progress to the finals.
Jack Manning and Callan Byrnes (KCH) were fourth and eighth respectively in the under-23 60m while in the women’s junior 60m Linda Lawlor (St Joseph’s) was sixth in the 60m heats.
The second annual Kilkenny Sports Hall athletics were held at the Watershed on Saturday. This event is aimed at children in the under-8 to under-11 age bracket to give them a flavour of the activities held at athletics competitions.
Long jump is defined as the standing jump, the ball throwing competition is the precursor to the shot-put while the turbo javelin is a starting step to the javelin itself.
Aside from jumps and throws, athletes took part in running over low hurdles while the main attraction of the day was the obstacle course.
Similar to last year, a large crowd participated with great representation from all clubs across Kilkenny. It is hoped to see many of these budding athletes in action next month in the county cross-country relays and open races in Tullaroan.
Several athletes from the St Joseph’s and St Senan’s clubs were in action at the Waterford Schools cross-country championships, which were held in Dungarvan last week.
The Abbey CC, although in Co Kilkenny, takes part with Waterford and Munster in the schools competition. Caoimhe Phelan, competing for the Abbey, was second in the minor girls competition. She led her team of four Senan’s athletes to first place in the team competition.
The minor boys’ competition saw St Senan’s athletes take the top three positions. The winner was Naoise Gilmartin (Abbey CC), who battled it out with St Senan’s team-mates Ben Wallis (Waterpark), who finished second, and Gearoid Long (Abbey CC) who came home third. The Abbey were third in the team rankings.
The Abbey also took home the shield for the best school overall.
Thursday, January 31 - South Leinster schools cross-country, Carlow. East Munster schools, Carriagnore Waterford.
Sunday, February 3 - National Intermediate, Masters and Juvenile B All-Irelands, Dundalk.
February 9/10 - Leinster Juvenile Indoors, Athlone.
February 13 - Leinster schools cross-country, Santry.
February 15 - Munster schools cross-country, Cork
Feb 16/17 National Senior Indoors Abbotstown.
Kilkenny results, national indoor junior and under-23 championships:
Women’s under-23 60m: 1 Sophie Becker (St Joseph’s).
Women’s under-23 200m: 1 Sophie Becker (St Joseph’s).
Men’s under-23 shot: 1 John Joe Kelly (Brow Rangers), 4 Patrick Darcy (Brow Rangers).
Men’s under-23 weight for distance: 1 Patrick Darcy (Brow Rangers), 3 John Joe Kelly (Brow Rangers), 5 Ciaran Coady (Brow Rangers).
Men’s under-23 pole vault: 2 Shane Power (St Joseph’s).
Men’s under-23 60m: 4 Callan Byrne (KCH), 8 Jack Manning (KCH).
Junior women’s 400m: 2 Ciara Deeley (KCH).
Junior women’s shot: 5 Emma Kelly (Brow Rangers).
Junior women’s weight for distance: 4 Emma Kelly (Brow Rangers).
Junior men’s weight for distance: 3 Andrew Buggy (Brow Rangers).
Junior men’s shot: 5 Andrew Buggy (Brow Rangers).
Junior men’s long jump: 7 Jordan Knight (St Joseph’s).
Junior men’s 400m: Heat - 2 Jordan Knight (St Joseph’s).
Kilkenny results, Waterford schools cross-country:
Minor Girls: 2 Caoimhe Phelan (Abbey Community School). Team: 1 Abbey.
Minor Boys: 1 Naoise Gilmartin (Abbey CC), 2 Ben Wallis (Newtown), 3 Gearoid Long (Abbey CC). Teams: 3 Abbey CC.
For more on Kilkenny People sport read here.