Kilkenny athletes Sophie Becker (St Joseph's, left) and Cliodhna Manning (KCH)
It turned out to be quite a busy weekend for athletes across Kilkenny.
Maynooth was the venue for the National University Track and Field Championships on Friday. Abbotstown was the port of call for the National Juvenile relays and some older age field events on Saturday, while the national spring throws were held in Athlone on Sunday.
The women’s 400m final drew most of the local attention from Friday’s action, with Sophie Becker (St Joseph’s) going up against Cliodhna Manning (Kilkenny City Harriers - KCH).
Becker has had a fantastic year, qualifying for the World Championships as part of the 4x400m in Berlin last August before, in March, making her first appearance at the European Indoors. Manning had to bow out of last year’s National Championships due to an injury, but she was back in full form on Friday when she faced a head to head with Becker.
Competing for IT Carlow, Manning made a cautious start and was marginally behind Becker (DCU) who usually starts very fast. By the 150m mark it was Manning who took the lead and maintained it all the way to the line, finishing first with Becker second.
Both athletes will be hoping to feature at the World Championships in Doha this September, where they could be joined by Ciara Deeley.
St Joseph’s athlete Shane Power (DCU) won the pole vault after some hair raising moments at 3.60m – a height he normally scales with ease. In the end he cleared all the remaining heights and saw off Conor Birmingham (Trinity College). Power has now completed the university pole vault double, winning both the indoor and outdoor events, in 2019.
John Joe Kelly of Brow Rangers was third in the discus. Competing for UCD he also had two fourth place finishes in the shot-put and weight for distance. His first cousin Emma Kelly, competing for UL, was seventh in discus and sixth in the weight for distance.
David Murphy (Gowran) won the 100m heat and semi-final for IT Carlow, crossing the line with lots to spare, but injury meant he was unable to compete in the final.
A trio of KCH athletes were among the medals - Jack Manning (KCH) was part of the DCU team that won the 4x400m relay, Callum Byrne was second in the 4x100m relay for CIT while Louise Holmes won bronze on the AIT 4x100m relay team.
Fellow Harrier Grace Richardson (UCC) made a welcome return to competition when she competed in the 3000m, finishing ninth.
Many of these athletes will be hoping to continue their collegiate form into the summer, with a view to competing at the World University Games in Naples.
KCH and St Joseph’s helped themselves to a golden haul at the National Juvenile Relays in Abbotstown. The KCH girls’ under-15 team have always been a jewel in the club’s crown but this year it was the girls’ under-12 team who stole the show.
On the back of their win at the Leinster relays the team of Ruth Crowley, Laura Leahy, Clodagh O’Callaghan and Molly Daly, with sub Aoibhe Quinn, lined up for the inaugural 4x200m relay.
There were three heats, with the championships decided by means of a time trial rather than heats and finals. KCH won their heat in a new championship best performance with Ratoath second.
The only other relay medal on the day came from the KCH girls’ under-15 team. The team of Abbie O’Brien, Amelie Foley, Blaithin Holden, Ella Delahunty and Orla Kenny won silver, finishing second to Doonen AC of Limerick, but with a personal best time.
There were a few fourth place finishes, some so close that it was painful to separate the teams. In the girls’ under-18 4x200m race the Thomastown team of Aine Kirwan, Ciara O’Keeffe, Ellen Ryan and Orla O’Keeffe were a meagre 0.4 of a second behind bronze medal winners St Laurence O’Tooles.
Another team to finish fourth was the St Joseph’s boys’ under-17 team of Cathal Beirne, Danny Glennon, Eoin Kennedy and Evan O’Toole, who once again fell victim to St Laurence O’Tooles. Just like Thomastown they went close to the medals, with 0.6 seconds separating them from the bronze medals.
In the boys’ under-17 long jump, Kilkenny’s specialist Jordan Knight recorded a new personal best of 6m 23cm to beat long time rival Mark Carroll (Templemore AC) by 34cm.
In an unusual last place after the initial round, and with one jump to go, Knight delivered when it mattered - he jumped 6.23, a new personal best and some 52cm ahead of Carroll. Making the final eight Knight was entitled to jump three more rounds - he failed one jump while his other two were also over 6m.
St Senan’s led the way for Kilkenny at this year’s national spring throws competition in Athlone.
Competing in the boys’ under-16 javelin Peter MacDonald made history for the Saints as the club’s first participant in the national spring throwing event. Peter faced last year’s javelin winner Jack Cullen (Bandon AC) and finished second with a new PB.
The big surprise at this year’s spring throw was the large number of female athletes who participated from under-16 to under-19. Women’s throwing events are on the rise again in Ireland, harking back to the days when Kilkenny’s Eileen O’Keeffe dominated the events more than a decade ago.
National Spring Throws
Boys’ Under-16 javelin: 2 Peter MacDonald (St Senan’s).
Irish University Championships
Girls’ 400m: 1 Cliodhna Manning (IT Carlow, KCH), 2 Sophie Becker (DCU, St Joseph’s). Discus: 7 Emma Kelly (UL, Brow Rangers). Weight for distance: 6 Emma Joe Kelly (UL). Girls’ 3,000m: 9 Grace Richardson (UCC, KCH).
Boys’ 100m: 6 David Murphy (IT Carlow, Gowran). Pole Vault: 1 Shane Power (DCU, St Joseph’s). Discus: 3 John Joe Kelly (UCD, Brow Rangers). Shot: 4 John Joe Kelly (UCD). Weight for distance: 4 John Joe Kelly (UCD).
National Relays and Juvenile Field Events
Boys’ Under-17 long jump: 1 Jordan Knight (St Joseph’s). Boys’ Under-16 long jump: 11 Evan O’Toole (St Joseph’s).
Relays 4 x 200m
Girls’ Under-12: 1 KCH. Girls’ Under-15: 2 KCH. Girls’ Under-18: 4 Thomastown.
Boys’ Under-17: 4 St Joseph’s. Boys’ Under-12: 5 KCH. Boys’ Under-14: 5 KCH.
April 18 - Streets of Kilkenny 5K.
April 22 - St Senan’s AC Open Track and Field, Kilmacow 1pm.
April 26 - South Leinster Schools, Waterford.
May 5 - County Juvenile Championships (day one), Scanlon Park.
May 6 - Leinster Road Novice, Gowran.
May 12 - County Juvenile Championships (day two), Scanlon Park.
For more on Kilkenny People sport read here.