The St Kieran's college team that won the junior boys 3,000m at the Irish Life Health Leinster cc championships
A fantastic year was reviewed as athletes from several clubs across Kilkenny were honoured at the county awards night for their 2018 achievements.
Eight championship best performances were set by athletes, including a double by Fiona Dillon (Thomastown) who set new championship best performances for both the 800m and 1,500m at the Leinster under-15 track and field.
Hundreds of Leinster and national medals were won by locals, while six county teams were among the honours in the national cross-country, including the women’s novice team.
This is the first time in many decades that the senior ladies emerged on the national front. With some fantastic girls now aged 17 to 19, it appears that the senior women’s section of Kilkenny athletics will be getting stronger and stronger.
The cross-country and juvenile track and field shields went to Gowran and Kilkenny City Harriers (KCH) respectively while St Senan’s and KCH retained their senior women and men’s shield titles respectively.
Tadgh Connolly (St Senan’s) won the award for best juvenile cross-country athlete.
As one of the county’s most diverse athletes it was his first place finish in the national under-15 cross-country that most people will remember him for. Tadgh was also fourth in the national under-16 cross-country championships and a double winner in Leinster (under-15 and 16).
What is amazing about his 2018 county performance is that his double win at under-15 and under-16 saw him win his first ever individual cross-country medals.
Tadgh also earned his first international vest when he was selected for the Celtic International cross-country championships.
In what was a superb year, the young athlete was also second in the national under-15 discus and third in the shot-put. He also won a bronze in the indoor shot-put and silver in the indoor walk.
Fiona Dillon (Thomastown) had a record-breaking year. She smashed both the 800m and 1,500m records at the Leinster track and field championships. She then went on to win the 1,500m at the Nationals and was third in the 800m.
Dillon, no stranger to winning national titles, won the national under-12 and under-13 cross-country titles but injury set her back for most of her under-14 cross country and track season.
She worked hard to recuperate from her injury and, at the start of the track and field season, knew she was in good shape.
Dillon’s double Leinster record came as no surprise to many as within the county she was going from strength to strength. While the award was for her track and field exertions she also finished seventh in the national under-15 cross-country championships.
Lauren Dermody (Castlecomer AC) was the recipient of the senior cross-country award. A well-known distance athlete who excels at cross-country she won the 2018 Leinster senior cross-country title in fine style.
Dermody also won the county senior cross country and was selected on the Irish team to compete in the under-23 Celtic International. Lauren was fourth in the national intermediate championships in 2018 and eighth in the national under-23 cross-country.
Her successful transition from juvenile into the senior domain will be an inspiration for many of the young girls who are emerging as national medallist hopefuls at cross-country in Kilkenny.
John Joe Kelly (Brow Rangers) won the award for the best senior track and field athlete. John Joe is a member of the famous Kelly family who have been successful throwers at national level for decades.
Son on John and grandson of the famous Joe Kelly, who won many an international vest in his day, John Joe is keeping a proud family tradition going.
Kelly, who also won the Leinster award for best senior athlete, was first in the Leinster indoor shot and second in the weight for distance in 2018. At the national indoors he was second in the under-23 shot and weight throw. In the outdoor under-23 nationals he was first in the shot, second in the discus and weight throw and third in the senior weight throw.
Patrick Darcy, another Brow Rangers athlete, won the best junior award for 2018. A familiar face in county athletics, he is another athlete who has made the successful transition from juvenile to junior.
In 2018 Patrick was third in the national indoor junior shot and first in the weight for distance. At the outdoor track and field he was second in the weight for distance.
Race-walking has always been strong in Kilkenny. With pioneers like John Mackey from the 1970s and Perri Williams being the first Irish female to compete in the Olympic Games in this event – a strong precedent has been set.
The country’s masters athletes are currently flying the Irish flag, with St Joseph’s duo John Joe Lawlor and Brid Lawlor right there with them. Both athletes won their age category at both indoor and outdoor Leinster and national championships - there wasn’t a race they didn’t win in 2018.
Sally Forristal (St Joseph’s) was the recipient for the 2018 road racing award. She was second in the senior women’s national half-marathon championships as well as performing well in her debut marathon in Berlin.
Forristal was a successful race walker as a juvenile and it was while at college she rekindled her love of running. Since then she has not looked back, competing on roads and cross-country. She was third in the Leinster senior cross-country championships.
The masters award went to Padraig Crawford (Gowran AC). An over-35 masters athlete, Crawford was second in the masters over-35 hurdles in the national indoors.
He also won the 110m over-35 hurdles in the outdoor nationals and finished second in the high jump. He also won numerous county and Leinster titles.
The final individual category award was the international award which was jointly won by KCH athletes Ciara Deely and Brian Maher.
Brian is well known on the Irish circuit, having competed for Ireland at the World and European cross-country championships and numerous road races.
Since moving into masters athletics just over a year ago Maher has won acclaim in his new found age grouping. In 2018 he competed in the 10km road race as part of the Irish team.
Ciara Deely had a very successful 2018 on the track at her specialist event, the 400m. Not only did Ciara compete in the World Juniors in Helsinki, she also travelled to the European Senior Championships in Berlin as part of the Irish 4x400m relay team.
Still a junior in 2019, expect to hear more of her on the international scene.
The award winners were:
Juvenile Cross-Country - Tadgh Connolly (St Senan’s)
Juvenile Track & Field - Jordan Knight (St Joseph’s)
Senior Cross-Country - Lauren Dermody (Castlecomer)
Senior Track & Field - John Joe Kelly (Brow Rangers)
Walks - John Joe Lawlor & Brid Lawlor (St Joseph’s)
Junior - Patrick Darcy (Brow Rangers)
Road - Sally Forristal (St Joseph’s)
Masters - Padraig Crawford (Gowran)
International - Ciara Deely & Brian Maher (Kilkenny City Harriers)
The awards season has been a busy time for Jordan Knight. Following on from his Leinster Juvenile award which he won in January he took county honours for the best juvenile track and field award on Friday night.
On Saturday it was on to Tullamore, where Knight was named the best athlete in county Kilkenny.
The awards capped a tremendous year for Knight, who won medals both indoors and outdoors in combined events, long jump, 200m and hurdles.
He has already made a great start to 2019 where he has already set a new championship best at the Leinster Indoor 400m and came away as Leinster indoor champion in 400m, long jump and runner-up in the 200m.
The Leinster and Munster schools championships saw some of Kilkenny’s juvenile athletes take centre stage during the week.
At the Leinster schools cross-country in Santry St Kieran’s College won the cup for the best overall school. The Loreto Kilkenny won the intermediate girls title.
In the minor boys race Billy Coogan (CBS Kilkenny) was first with the St Kieran’s team third.
The St Kieran’s junior boys won their minor event last year and went on to finish second in the All-Irelands. Retaining their first place this year in the junior category, they were led home by Tom Lodge in third with David Williams close behind in fifth place.
The St Kieran’s intermediate and senior boys’ teams were placed second with Shay McEvoy second individual in the senior boys.
Hannah Kehoe (Loreto Kilkenny) was a clear winner in the junior girls’ race. Her Loreto intermediate colleagues won the intermediate team event with Hannah O’Keeffe second, Aine Kirwan fifth and Fiona Dillon sixth.
Elsewhere the Munster schools cross-country were held in Waterford. Running for the Abbey CC in the minor girls Caoimhe Phelan finished 10th and secured individual qualification.
In the minor boys’ race Naoise Gilmartin (Abbey CC) was eighth while Ben Wallis (Newtown School) was 10th - both boys are now through to the All-Ireland schools finals.
Tadgh Connolly (Abbey CC) was a clear winner of the junior boys’ race with Aoife Allen (Mercy Waterford) second in the senior girls’ race. Tara Ramasawmy (Ursuline Waterford) was sixth in the same race.
Kilkenny results, schools cross-country
Leinster Schools Santry
Minor Boys: 1 Billy Coogan (CBS Kilkenny). Team: 3 St Kieran’s College.
Junior Boys: 3 Tom Lodge (St Kieran’s College), 5 David Williams (St Kieran’s). Team: 1 St Kieran’s.
Intermediate Boys: Team 2 St Kieran’s.
Senior Boys: 2 Shay McEvoy (St Kieran’s). Team: 2 St Kieran’s.
Junior Girls: 1 Hannah Kehoe (Loreto).
Inter Girls: 2 Hannah O’Keeffe (Loreto), 5 Aine Kirwan (Loreto), 6 Fiona Dillon (Loreto). Team: 1 Loreto Kilkenny.
Munster Schools Waterford
Minor Boys: 8 Naoise Gilmartin (Abbey CC), 10 Ben Wallis (Newtown School).
Junior Boys: 1 Tadgh Connolly (Abbey CC).
Minor Girls: 10 Caoimhe Phelan (Abbey CC). Team: 4 Abbey CC.
Senior Girls: 2 Aoife Allen (Mercy Waterford), 6 Tara Ramasawmy (Ursuline Waterford).
The National Senior Indoor Championships were held in Abbotstown last weekend.
Once again there was an impressive performance from Sophie Becker (St Joseph’s).
With the 400m featuring the ever-improving Phil Healy, Sophie was at best attempting to get closer to her. Starting conservatively, Becker moved into second position as the race reached the half-way stage.
As the athletes rounded the final bend into the home straight, Becker had gained some ground but not enough to beat Healy. She finished a very credible second in a time of 53 seconds.
In the men’s 1,500m Eoin Everard (KCH) finished second in a time of 3.55. In a close race - the outcome wasn’t clear, even with 60m to go - the winner was Eoin Pearse of Clonliffe.
Sunday, February 24: County intermediate and juvenile relays, Tullaroan 11am.
March 9: Schools All-Ireland cross-country, Clongowes Woods, Kildare.
For more on Kilkenny People sport read here.