Hard going weekend for athletics, but winning medals made it a good one for Kilkenny

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Hard going weekend for athletics, but winning medals made it a good one for Kilkenny

Thomastown’s Fiona Dillon leads the way in the girls’ under-16 1,500m race at the Leinster Indoor Championships

It was a long and exhausting weekend of athletics, but ultimately it proved to be a rewarding one for the Kilkenny contingent who travelled to Athlone for the Leinster Juvenile Indoor Championships.
Despite the 6am starts for some clubs the two long days produced some stunning performances. Pride of place goes to Fiona Dillon (Thomastown AC) and Jordan Knight (St Joseph’s), who set new Leinster indoor records in their respective events.
Dillon was a star in the girls’ under-16 1,500m event. The favourite to land the gold medal after setting two Leinster records last summer (800m and 1,500m) she made the race her from the gun.
The Thomastown athlete led the field after 100m, and although she was pushed all the way by Gowran’s Hannah Kehoe, Dillon looked relaxed and strong.
With 300m to go, she moved up a gear and left the rest of the field in her wake. Crossing the line with a time of 4.47 she set a new Leinster record and had over 10 seconds to spare from Hannah Kehoe.
The following day Dillon won the 800m.
Again she crossed the line with a comfortable margin, but was just outside record pace.
Jordan Knight was seen as often on the podium over the weekend as he was in the arena seats. On Saturday he contested the 400m, a new event for him, and easily won his heat – setting a new Leinster record in the process.
Later that day he won the final, breaking his own Leinster record in the process, as he set the new mark at 52.27. He finished 200ths of a second ahead of Jed Walsh (Rathoath AC).
As exhausted as Knight was, he then proceeded to the long jump where he was again victorious. On Sunday the 200m beckoned the young athlete, where he had the challenge of a tough opponent in the form of Charles Okafor (Mullingar Harriers).
Okafor seemed to have the edge on Knight entering the bend after 100m, but it looked like the Kilkenny athlete was closing the gap. Digging deep he managed to claw back the deficit in the home straight, but Okafor was just too strong for him and held on for the win.
Despite that, two gold medals and a silver wasn’t a bad haul for a weekend’s work.
Seven golds
St Senan’s AC had a phenomenal championships at the Leinster indoors. While it is club policy not to specifically train for indoors, the few weeks of technical work delivered a great return as the club brought so many medals back to Kilmacow.
The club won seven gold medals in all, with Tadgh Connolly taking three from the boys’ under-16 shot, race-walking and 800m. Tadgh had some outstanding performances over both days and with a limit of three events per athlete, one would wonder could he have also won the 1,500m.
Another gold was secured when Aoife Allen delivered a top class performance in the girls’ under-19 1,500m race.
Although she lay in fifth place for much of the race, Allen produced a storming last lap and the kick of a lifetime going down the finishing straight to emerge victorious.
Signs of sheer shock were written all over her face in the aftermath of her victory, with words of “how did that happen?” being uttered several times over.
On Sunday morning two of St Senan’s youngest competitors were in action bright and early. Eve Dunphy competed in the girls’ under-13 high jump while Isaac Carew entered the boys’ under-13 high jump. Both athletes claimed victory with new personal bests (PBs), with Isaac just missing out on a new Leinster record.
Keelin Duggan claimed her first ever Leinster medal in the girls’ under-14 walk when she raced home to claim bronze. Also claiming their first ever indoor medals were Joe Roche in the under-16 shot and Clodagh Monahan in the under-17 800m.
Kerr Impresses
Sophia Kerr may not race often but when she does she always manages to impress. She turned heads at the county indoors when she won many of running events by an impressive margin.
In Athlone she surprised many of her competitors in the girls’ under-15 60m, taking silver in a very competitive field. Clocking 8.19 is, by anyone’s standard, a fast time.
The 60m race is a very short and powerful event, where the start means everything. If you do not react immediately to the starting gun then the race can often be over.
Kerr was the first out of the blocks and was slightly ahead of the eventual race winner Laura Bolster (Cushinstown) for most of the race. In the end the more experienced Bolster powered over the finish line, beating Kerr by a meagre .14 of a second.
Thomastown triumph
They may have travelled in small numbers, but Thomastown’s athletes delivered quality in large doses.
With Fiona Dillon rewriting the record books in the girls’ under-16 1,500m race, Aine Kirwan and Hannah O’Keeffe were next to deliver top class performances in the under-17 event.
Both girls were up against the pre-race favourite Ava O’Connor (Tullamore Harriers). O’Connor, who finished second in the National Junior 1,500m a few weeks earlier, was in flying form and led the field for the first four laps, looking comfortable with the pace.
Starting out on the fifth lap Hannah O’Keeffe mounted a challenge. The Thomastown girl found the early pace a little slow and wanted to speed things up.
Over the next 100m a gap emerged between both girls and Aine Kirwan. With a lap to go it looked like the battle was between Hannah and Ava for first place but, back in third, Aine Kirwan was starting to gather momentum. She produced a storming last 150m to win the race by five seconds from her clubmate O’Keeffe. Ava O’Connor finished third.
Thomastown came to the championships with just six athletes and yet managed to bring home three gold medals and a silver. They may have been small in numbers, but they certainly had athletic prowess.
Steger Success
Aibhe Steger was perhaps the most impressive of Gowran’s large contingent at these championships. The young under-12 athlete, naturally tall for her age, chose to compete in the high jump.
When the bar was raised to 1m 28cm there were two athletes left in the competition - Steger and Lianh Grogan (Dunboyne AC). Lianh cleared 1.28 on her first attempt, placing pressure on Aibhe to match the performance. However the Gowran athlete knocked the bar on her first jump, being a little too far away from the mat on take-off. She cleared 1.28 the next time around.
To the surprise of many she easily sailed over 1.31 on her first attempt. Grogan failed to clear this height - Steger had won the girls’ under-12 high jump with a new PB.
As if that was not enough she also managed to come third in the long jump also with a new PB of 3.69. The last event of the day, the hurdles, saw Steger in action again. This time it was another bronze medal, with Ruth Crowley (Kilkenny City Harriers - KCH) beating her by the narrowest of margins for the silver.
Rachel Gardiner had a great win in the under-14 shot-put while Liam O’Dwyer proved true to form when winning the boys’ under-13 hurdles. Gowran had a total of 10 medals over the two days, three of these gold.
Dozen for Harriers
Kilkenny City Harriers managed to pick up 12 medals over the weekend, with Mateaus Balcer leading the way in the boys’ under-16 high jump.
Mateaus produced a lifetime best of 1m 75cm, improving his PB by over 10cm.
Molly Daly looks all set to emulate the footsteps of mother Fiona when she took home two silver medals in the girls’ under-12 60m and 600m. Equally as impressive was Alex Cullen who got a PB of 1m 40cm to clinch third spot. Alex was third in the high jump, fourth in the long jump and hurdles.
With some of the older athletes choosing not to take part due to the schools cross-country on Wednesday, the older ages were somewhat lacking KCH presence. Despite this, with quite a young bunch of athletes the future looks bright for KCH.
Evan O’Toole was third in the boys’ under-16 high jump. He struggled somewhat with his marker and failed the first two jumps. This often produces nerves in the competition. He finished one place behind Mikey Raggett (KCH) to take fourth spot.
All eyes for the coming week will be focused on the Leinster schools cross-country and the county star awards night in Langton’s Set Theatre.
RESULTS
Kilkenny results, Leinster Juvenile Indoor Championships (club code: CC = Castlecomer, G = Gowran, KCH = Kilkenny City Harriers, SJ = St Joseph’s, SS = St Senan’s, TT = Thomastown:)
Girls’ U-12 60m: 2 Molly Daly (KCH). Girls’ U-15 60m: 2 Sophia Kerr (CC).
Boys’ U-12 60m: 4 Oisin Henderson (KCH).
Girls’ U-12 600m: 2 Molly Daly (KCH).
Girls’ U-16 800m: 1 Fiona Dillon (TT). Girls’ U-17 800m: 3 Clodagh Monahan (SS). Girls’ U-18 800m: 2 Sophie Jackman (SS).
Boys’ U-15 800m: 4 David Williams (SS). Boys’ U-16 800m: 1 Tadgh Connolly (SS).
Girls’ U-16 1,500m: 1 Fiona Dillon (TT), 2 Hannah Kehoe (G). Girls’ U-17 1,500m: 1 Aine Kirwan (TT), 2 Hannah O’Keeffe (TT). Girls’ U-19 1,500m: 1 Aoife Allen (SS).
Girls’ U-14 Walk: 3 Keelin Duggan (SS). Girls’ U-15 Walk: 4 Sophie Monahan (SS).
Boys’ U-14 Walk: 1 Ben Wallis (SS). Boys’ U-15 Walk: 2 David Williams (SS). Boys’ U-16 Walk: 1 Tadgh Connolly (SS).
Girls’ U-16 200m: 4 Katie Taylor (SJ).
Boys’ U-17 200m: 2 Jordan Knight (SJ).
Girls’ U-17 400m: 4 Clodagh Monahan (SS). Girls’ U-18 400m: 4 Sophie Jackman (SS).
Boys’ U-17 400m: 1 Jordan Knight (SJ).
Girls’ U-12 shot: 3 Orla Brennan (G). Girls’ U-13 shot: 1 Rachel Gardiner (G).
Boys’ U-12 shot: 3 Aidan Keating (G). Boys’ U-16 shot: 1 Tadgh Connolly (SS), 2 Joe Roche (SS).
Girls’ U-12 high jump: 1 Aibhe Steiger (G). Girls’ U-13 high jump: 1 Eve Dunphy (SS), 3 Chloe Lynch (G). Girls’ U-16 high jump: 2 Rose Sheridan (SS).
Boys’ U-12 high jump: 2 Oisin Henderson (KCH). Boys’ U-13 high jump: 1 Isaac Carew (SS). Boys’ U-14 high jump: 3 Alex Cullen (KCH). Boys’ U-15 high jump: 3 Keelin Roche (SS). Boys’ U-16 high jump: 1 Mateaus Balcer, 3 Evan O’Toole (SJ).
Girls’ U-12 long jump: 3 Aibhe Steiger (G). Girls’ U-16 long jump: 4 Katie Taylor (SJ).
Boys’ U-12 long jump: 4 Aidan Keating (G). Boys’ U-13 long jump: 3 Louis Raggett (KCH). Boys’ U-14 long jump: 3 Eoin Aylward (SS), 4 Alex Cullen (KCH). Boys’ U-16 long jump: 1 Jordan Knight (SJ), 3 Mikey Raggett (KCH).
Girls’ U-12 hurdles: 2 Ruth Crowley (KCH), 3 Aibhe Steiger (G). Girls’ U-15 hurdles: 4 Orla Kenny (KCH). Girls’ U-16 hurdles: 3 Rachel Leahy (KCH). Girls’ U-18 hurdles: 2 Jennifer Leahy (KCH).
Boys’ U-13 hurdles: 1 Liam O’Dwyer (G), 4 Evan Cullen (KCH). Boys’ U-14 hurdles: 2 Daniel Ring (KCH), 4 Alex Cullen. Boys’ U-15 hurdles: 4 Keelin Roche (SS).

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