Sophie Becker in action in Glasgow
A busy weekend of athletics action took on an indoors focus, with local athletes involved in a series of diverse events.
From the European indoor championships in Glasgow to the Leinster junior, seniors and masters championships in Abbotstown, not to mention the juvenile relays and field events, there was plenty for the indoor athletics enthusiast.
The European Indoors produced mixed results for the young Irish team. While the experience of Ciara Mageean and Mark English saw Ireland come home with two bronze medals the championships were new ground for a bunch of athletes aged between 18 and 21.
At 21 years of age Sophie Becker (St Joseph’s) was appearing in her first individual major senior championship. She qualified for this event having run 53 seconds at the national under-23 indoors. Since then she also ran 53 seconds at the national senior indoors.
To reach the qualifying time twice within one month is incredible, but to also perform equally as well in your major championship debut is something inspirational. Competing in heat four of the 400m Sophie finished fifth in 53.99.
Sophie has now set herself the inevitable task of achieving the qualification times for the European under-23 championships, which will be held in Sweden in July, as well as the world senior championships in Doha in September and the World University Games which are scheduled for Italy in May.
It is going to be a busy summer for Becker!
Brow Rangers managed to wow everyone again with some more superb performances at the Leinster senior, masters and junior indoor championships in Abbotstown on Saturday.
Between them the Coon club’s contingent took home 11 Leinster medals, all of them in the throwing events.
The name Kelly of course featured strongly amongst the medals, ranging from 18-year-old Emma Kelly, who finished third in the junior ladies weight throw, to the 74-years-young Murty Kelly. He won the shot and was second in the weight throw, both in the masters over-70 category.
There was a stunning performance by Mary Breen (St Joseph’s) in the ladies over-55 category, where she not only won her weight for distance but also set a new championship best performance.
If Brow Rangers were the hot take for the throwing events then the name Verena Fenlon (St Joseph’s) was on everyone’s mind in the ladies over-45 masters category.
Competing in the shot, weight for distance, high jump, long jump and 60m hurdles, Verena won three gold medals, a silver and a bronze. Her winning performances were in the shot, weight for distance and the high jump.
Verena is an athlete who has come all the way through from the juvenile ranks of St Joseph’s. She competed from under-11 to under-19, junior and then into seniors before reaching masters level.
Fellow St Joseph’s athlete Shane Power won the pole vault in the senior men’s competition.
St Joseph’s have always been renowned for their cross-country and race walking feats - former great John Mackey is a nationally recognised figure - and the race walking tradition is currently being kept alive by athletes such as Maggie Helen O’Connor, John Joe and Brid Lawlor.
Brid and John Joe Lawlor and Tracey Malone kept the flag flying in Abbotstown, all winning their respective events as the club brought home 13 medals, nine of them gold.
Gowran had two athletes competing, both winning two medals apiece. Catriona Corr was second in the over-40 60m and 200m while John Leamy was third in the over-45 60m and second in the long jump.
St Senan’s had their first indoor senior athlete in many decades at the event. Jonathan Crowley was fifth in the senior men’s 1,500m.
It was back to Abbotstown for the Leinster juvenile relays and older age group field events on Sunday were held in Abbotstown.
Kilkenny City Harriers (KCH) made an indelible impact into the total medal haul, collecting eight relay team medals - one gold, three silver and four bronze.
Their star team, the girls’ under-15 team who won both the indoors and outdoors as an under-14 side last year, won their heat in fine style.
Orla Kenny, Blaithin Holden, Ella Delahunty and Amelie Foley lined up for the final as favourites. The final was a very closely-fought contest between Ratoath and KCH with the Co Meath club beating the Harriers by a quarter of a second in a new championship best.
The KCH girls’ under-12 team of Molly Daly, Ruth Crowley, Laura Leahy and Clodagh O’Callaghan seems to have started the relay racing path all over again when they had a great win. Beating the much fancied Ratoath and Dunboyne AC teams, they had a narrow margin of half a second to spare. This team will now go into the All-Irelands in April with much more confidence.
Thomastown’s best performance came when their under-18 girls’ team came second in the 4x200m relay.
The team of Aine Kirwan, Orla O’Keeffe, Ciara O’Keeffe and Ellen Ryan pushed the winners, St Laurence O’Toole of Carlow, all the way as they were pipped by one second. KCH were third in the same race.
St Joseph’s had two podium relay teams. Their girls’ under-17s were third while the boys’ under-17 team finished second. The boys had a close battle with St Laurence O’Toole of Carlow and were one-tenth of a second away from victory.
The finish was so close that a photo finish had to be called for to determine the final placings. The team was Jordan Knight, Cathal Beirne, Danny Glennon and Eoin Kennedy.
For girls and boys competing at under-17, 18 and 19 levels the Leinster pole vault, triple jump, shot-put and high jump competitions were also held.
The triple jump seemed to have taken Kilkenny by storm when the county as a whole amassed nine medals, including two gold. Evan O’Toole (St Joseph’s) won the boys’ under-16 competition while Harry Boyle (KCH) won the boys’ under-15 event.
Peter Dunne of Gowran made a welcome return to competition when he won the boys’ under-18 with 1m 85cm. He will now hope to build upon this for the nationals at the end of the month.
The All-Ireland schools cross-country championships will be held in Kildare on Saturday and will feature plenty of Kilkenny interest.
St Kieran’s College were crowned the best school in Leinster and have team representation in every race, with some individuals who are expected to make the top 10.
Loreto College have the Intermediate girls team, which should produce some performances that will enable some of their members to make the Irish team for the impending Irish schools international in Dublin on March 16.
Abbey CC in Ferrybank have no teams, but do have some individual runners who will be pre-race favourites to make a podium appearance while the CBS Kilkenny will also be hoping for a look in on the medal front.
It will be an exciting day of racing to mark the end of the national cross-country season.
Kilkenny results, senior and masters Leinster indoors (club code: BR = Brow Rangers, G = Gowran, SJ = St Joseph’s, SS = St Senan’s):
Senior men’s shot: 3 Patrick Darcy (BR), 4 Adam Kelly (BR).
Senior men’s weight throw: 2 Sean Maher (BR), 3 Patrick Darcy (BR), 4 Ciaran Coady (BR).
Senior men’s pole vault: 1 Shane Power (SJ).
Senior men’s 1,500m: 6 Jonathan Crowley (SS).
Junior men’s shot: 2 Andrew Buggy (BR).
Junior men’s weight throw: 2 Andrew Buggy (BR).
Senior women’s weight throw: 3 Emma Fenlon (SJ), 4 Aoife Coady (BR).
Junior women’s shot: 3 Emma Kelly (BR).
Masters men over-35 shot: 1 Kieran Kelly (BR), 2 Austin Lee (SJ).
Masters men over-35 weight for distance: 1 Austin Lee (SJ).
Masters men over-45 60m: 3 John Leamy (G).
Masters men over-45 long jump: 2 John Leamy (G).
Masters men over-50 shot: 2 Joe Kelly (BR).
Masters men over-50 weight throw: 2 Joe Kelly (BR).
Masters men over-50 walk: 1 John Joe Lawlor.
Masters men over-70 shot: 1 Murty Kelly (BR).
Masters men over-70 weight throw: 2 Murty Kelly (BR).
Masters women’s over-40 60m: 2 Catriona Corr (G).
Masters women’s over-40 walk: 1 Tracey Malone (SJ).
Masters women’s over-40 200m: 2 Catriona Corr (G).
Masters women’s over-40 45 shot: 1 Verena Fenlon (SJ).
Masters women’s over-45 weight for distance: 1 Verena Fenlon (SJ).
Masters women’s over-45 high jump: 1 Verena Fenlon (SJ).
Masters women’s over-45 long jump: 3 Verena Fenlon (SJ).
Masters women’s over-45 60m hurdles: 2 Verena Fenlon (SJ).
Masters women’s over-55 walk: 1 Brid Lawlor (SJ).
Masters women’s over-55 shot: 1 Mary Breen (SJ).
Masters women’s over-55 weight for distance: 1 Mary Breen (SJ - CBP).
Results, Leinster juvenile relays and field events
Girls’ Under-12 relay: 1 KCH.
Girls’ Under-15 relay: 2 KCH.
Girls’ Under-16 relay: 3 KCH.
Girls’ Under-17 relay: 3 St Joseph’s, 4 Thomastown.
Girls’ Under-18 relay: 2 Thomastown, 3 KCH.
Boys’ Under-12 relay: 3 KCH.
Boys’ Under-13 relay: 3 KCH.
Boys’ Under-14 relay: 2 KCH.
Boys’ Under-15 relay: 2 KCH.
Boys’ Under-17 relay: 2 St Joseph’s.
Boys’ Under-18 high jump: 1 Peter Dunne (G).
Girls’ Under-17 high jump: 2 Isabelle Ryan (TT).
Girls’ Under-18 high jump: 2 Jennifer Leahy.
Boys’ Under-15 triple jump: 1 Harry Boyle (KCH), 2 Conor Byrne (KCH), 3 Kealan Grey (KCH).
Boys’ Under-16 triple jump: 1 Evan O’Toole (SJ).
Girls’ Under-15 triple jump: 2 Abbie O’Brien (KCH), 3 Orla Kenny (KCH).
Girls’ Under-16 triple jump: Erin Foley (SJ).
Girls’ Under-17 triple jump: 3 Niamh O’Connor (SJ).
Girls’ Under-18 triple jump: 2 Sophie Jackman (SS).
For more on Kilkenny People sport read here.
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