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24 May 2022

Athletics- Saints star Caoimhe claims All-Ireland glory in Cork

Athletics- Saints star Caoimhe claims All-Ireland glory in Cork

It was victory for Caoimhe Phelan at the National B All Ireland Cross Country held in Castlelyons Cork on Sunday while in Abbotstown on Saturday Kilkenny athletes raced for fast times in the National Indoor Games.

All Ireland B and Intermediate Cross Country, Cork

St Senans AC Caoimhe Phelan stole the show at the All-Ireland B Cross Country at Castlelyons, Cork when she outsprinted Niamh McDonald (St Coca’s) to claim victory in the girls u17 3,500m event.

No race was harder fought than this race as McDonald and Phelan engaged in a ding dong battle for the entire race.
Caoimhe was strong on the hills but Niamh fought back each time to regain the lead. Never one to give up, Caoimhe worked hard to stay with the Kildare girl each time.

The sticky underfoot conditions were neither an advantage or disadvantage for either athlete. Each coping equally well. “Each time I took the lead on the hills, she just fought back and caught me, it made the race really tough” said Phelan.

The two girls were level as they rounded the final bend with a 300m slightly uphill run into the finish.

With the finish in sight, Caoimhe dug deep and started to sprint hard, hoping to shake off her opponent with one final effort.

It worked as the tough St Senans athlete crossed the line in first place. “I just put every ounce of energy I had left into the final sprint and hoped it was good enough and it was” said a delighted Phelan.

This was an excellent effort from Phelan who just five months ago saw her season cut short as she had to undergo surgery.

This was only her second race since she resumed training in January.

Emily O'Keeffe (Gowran) bronze u11

There were several other individual medals on the day with bronze medals being won by Gearoid Long (St Senans) in the boys u17 3,500m and Emily O’Keeffe (Gowran) in the girls u11.

For Gearoid Long, this was his first ever individual All-Ireland medal. The St Senans athlete has shown great improvement in the past few years, cumulating at the end of 2021 with a top 12 place finish in the Leinster u17 cross country championships.

Kilkenny finished 2nd in the county section with Thomastown a surprise 2nd in the club section.

Emily O’Keeffe, a young athlete has plenty of racing opportunities ahead of her and a selection of events that she has yet to try.

A lady to watch out for in the future no doubt. Emily led the Kilkenny team home to silver medals.

There was further good news, when her club Gowran AC finished in 3rd place.

Eve Dunphy (St Senans) 4th u15

Eve Dunphy (St Senans) was without her usual St Senans team mates on this occasion. She lay in the top 10 for most of the 2,500m race and with 300m to go she started to sprint hard.

Her speed took her from 10th to 4th as she was within 1 second of catching the 3rd place girl. “If I had only started to sprint earlier, I could have caught her” said Eve after the race.

She led the Kilkenny team to silver county medals.

There were three Kilkenny ladies in the top 12 in the girls u13 as Thomastown’s Katie O’Shea led the contingent home in 10th place.

Just one place behind her was Amy Walsh (St Josephs) with Amy O’Shea (Thomastown) in 12th. These girls set the county up for prime medal positions as Holly Ryan (Thomastown) 33rd, Grace Gilmartin (St Senans) and Moya O’Shea (Thomastown) filed into the finishing tunnel, to see Kilkenny finish 2nd.

Thomastown secured 2nd club as they were narrowly beaten by St Coca’s. A meagre three points separated the two teams.

In the boys u11 MJ Carroll (Gowran) finished in 9th place with Kilkenny finishing in 3rd place in the county section.

In total Kilkenny took home eight individual medals and seven sets of county medals out of a possible eight in the county section. Thomastown had two club teams with Gowran one.

The All Ireland B championships are a significant developmental race on the juvenile athletics calendar. These B championships give the athletes confidence to believe in their abilities and tackle stronger opponents in subsequent cross country races later in the year with many young athletes going on to do extremely well in the next cross country season.

This stems from the shorter distances, the elimination of those who had secured medals in the previous all Irelands and the friendly motivating atmosphere created by the organisers.

They are a must for any club who wants to develop their young teams.

James Kelly (Castlecomer)

The Men’s Intermediate team secured 3rd county. Led by James Kelly (Castlecomer) in 13th place, Dean Rowe (Gowran) followed closely behind in 18th place with Eamonn O’Connor (KCH) in 23rd.

This was a good end of season reward for the Kilkenny team, despite missing some of their key athletes.

Athletics Ireland Indoor Games

From the chilly winter fields of cross country to the warmth of the indoor track in Abbotstown, a number of Kilkenny athletes competed in the Athletics Ireland Indoor games.

There was an exciting day of competition that saw the Mid-Ulster AC’s 17-year-old sensation Nicholas Griggs smash the Irish Junior record to win the Senior 3,000m event in 7.57.

As last year’s European Junior Champion Griggs has now secured not only the World Junior qualification time, but also has the fastest junior time in the world this year for 3,000m.

Griggs took control of the race from the early stages, leaving the main race to the chasing pack, which consisted of Eoin Everard (KCH).

After dropping Jamie Battle (Mullingar) and Daniel Stone (Raheny) with 400m to go, Everard along with Mitchell Byrne (Rathfarmham) and Efrem Gidey (Clonliffe) fought it out for the silver and bronze medals.

With 200m to go Gidey pulled ahead as the athletes took the bend with Byrne on his shoulder. Up the back straight these two athletes pulled marginally away with Everard fighting hard to stay in contact.

Around the final bend Byrne climbed into lane two and passed Gidey as they entered the home straight. It was silver for Byrne, bronze for Gidey and Eoin Everard had to settle for 4th place.

In the elite 400m race, Bandon AC’s Phil Healy had a sensational run of 51.74 to edge closer to Karen Shenkin’s 20-year-old national record. Phil has already dipped under 52 seconds twice this season.

National Indoors

With the National Indoors in two weeks’ time, she will be chasing down that record.

Competing in the same race as Phil, was Cliodhna Manning of KCH. This is Cliodhna’s opening race of the season and she finished 3rd in a time of 55.49, a time she will be hoping to improve upon at the nationals in two weeks’ time.

Her brother Jack competed in the men’s 400m with a seasons opener of 49.91. The fastest time of the day was recorded by Cillian Green of Galway City Harriers in 46.94.

Elsewhere St Senans AC had two athletes in the 800m, Sophie Jackman and Clodagh Monahan. Jackman shaved three seconds off seasons best as she finished 3rd in her heat.

Jonathan Crowley (St Senans) competed in the men’s 800m and secured a PB. Shane Power (St Josephs) took part in the pole vault, with no medal on this occasion.

There were two Kilkenny athletes in the 60m. Shane Webb (Gowran) raced in heat 6 finishing in 7.52 with KCH’s Ross Daly competing in heat 3 and finishing in 7.43.

For many of these athletes, their next competition will be the National Senior Indoors in two weeks’ time.

McEvoy and Lynch gain PB’s

Continuing their indoor season, this week Shay McEvoy raced in the Gately Park meet in Chicago, while competing in the colours of the University of Tulsa.

McEvoy, edged out Purdue's Curtis Eckstein by less than a second to secure victory in the 3,000m in a time of 7.56. This is a new facility record.

The time is an improvement of 4 seconds from Shay’s last race two weeks ago at the Westbourne open in Kansas.

Shay McEvoy of Tulsa in action during the Gately Park meeting in Chicago

Meanwhile in Iowa, Peter Lynch raced over the longer distance of 5,000m. Competing in the Iowa State Classic Peter finished 5th in a time of 14.09,edging closer to a sub 14 all the time.

Shay and Peter will finish their indoor regular season on Friday,  at the Arkansas Qualifier before the Conference Indoor Championships on February 25-26.

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