02 Oct 2022

Athletics-Kilkenny’s Euro success in Braga

Athletics-Kilkenny’s Euro success in Braga

There was a great gathering of support for St Joseph’s athlete Maggie O’Connor as people travelled from home to cheer her on at the European Masters in Braga. She won a bronze in the 5km women’s walk

Two Kilkenny athletes tasted European success when competing in the European Masters Championships in Braga last week.

Competing in his first ever Masters competition, Kilkenny City Harriers (KCH) athlete Eoin Everard was crowned the over-35 European Masters 3,000m champion.

Aware of the form of some of the athletes, Everard knew the race was going to be tough. Championship running is all about strategy and with the over-35s being the first masters category, many of the athletes were keen to run a very strategic race.

The first 1km was slow. The pace quickened over the next 1km before undertaking a blistering pace for the final kilometre - it was a race that would favour those with a little speed. Eoin sat behind the Spaniard Pedro Javier Vega Ballesteros for most of the race. At the bell, Everard kicked into another gear and took the lead. He continued to work hard on the final 100m to claim victory in 8.35 with two seconds to spare over the Spaniard.

It was touch and go whether St Joseph’s AC athlete Maggie O’Connor would be able to compete, as a knee stress fracture had sidelined her for six weeks. Some light training earlier in the week signalled the all-clear for participation in the ladies 5km race-walking event.

While her preparation was not ideal, the final time of 28.25 was superb given the circumstances. O’Connor finished in fifth place with Team Ireland securing the bronze team medal. This was a second European Masters medal for O’Connor, who secured a silver medal back in 2018.

St Senan’s athlete Sophie Jackman set a new personal best in the women’s 800m event at the National Senior Indoor Championships

It was an exciting weekend of indoor competition at Abbotstown for the National Senior Indoors. There was a small representation from the county - Shane Power (St Joseph’s) in the pole vault and Eoin Everard in the 3,000m, while St Senan’s athlete Sophie Jackman ran in the 800m.

The 800m event has become something of an Irish event over the past year, starting when Ciara Mageean broke the two-minute barrier back in 2020 followed by a rapid onslaught of girls clocking 2.03 or faster. Among those leading 800m athletes in the country at the moment is Claire Mooney (Naas), who came into Sunday’s 800m final with the fastest time in the heats.

Jackman equalled her personal best (PB) in the heats on Saturday to secure a place in the final.

Starting from lane five, this was Jackman’s first national senior final appearance. She stayed with the main bunch of athletes, with Olympian Louise Shanahan (Leevale AC) and Mooney at the helm. Working hard between 400m and 600m Jackman was already on target for a new personal best. With 400m to go, Claire Mooney injected some pace and pulled slightly away from Shanahan. It looked like victory would be hers, but on the back straight Shanahan fought hard and drew level, passing Mooney on the bend before clinching victory. Jackman finished seventh in a new PB of 2.13.

The men’s 3,000m final witnessed the thrilling showdown between Nicholas Griggs, the mid-Ulster teen sensation and Darragh McIlhenny (UCD), the runner-up in the recent under-23 European Cross-Country. The much anticipated 3,000m race also included Eoin Everard (KCH) who rushed back from Braga to take part. Thomas Moran (Dunshaughlin) took the lead and stretched his advantage for the next four laps. The peloton reeled him in with seven and a half laps to go.

With six laps to go it was Keelin Kilrehill (Moy Valley) who took over the lead from Moran. Kilrehill led for the next 400m until both McIlhenny and Griggs decided to inject some pace into the race. McIlhenny and Griggs dominated the field for the final five laps with McIlhenny stretching his lead in the final 400m to take the victory in 8.02 with three seconds to spare over Griggs.

Behind them there was an exciting race taking place between the tiring Kilrehill and Eoin Everard. Just as he had done in Braga, Everard produced a kick with 200m to go and mounted a serious challenge along the back straight. Kilrehill managed to withhold Everard’s challenge and edge him out of the medals to take third place in 8.12, less than a second ahead of Everard who finished fourth. The early leader, Moran, was fifth in 8.21.

The women’s 3,000m saw Sarah Healy (UCD) set a new championship record of 8.53 as she easily beat Michelle Finn (Leevale). Healy beat the 18 year old record set by Maria McCambridge back in 2004 by three seconds.

Shane Power (St Joseph’s) had yet another competitive pole vault competition. Conor Callinan (Leevale) and Matthew Callinan Keenan (SLOT) tied for first place after both cleared 4.60m. Michael Bowler (Enniscorthy) finished third with 4.50m while Power was fourth with 4.40m.

With Cliodhna Manning (KCH) out of action due to a wrist injury, all eyes rested on Phil Healy (Bandon) in the 400m. She set a new championship record, while former St Joseph’s AC athlete, Sophie Becker, finished second.

All eyes were on Molly Scott (SLOT) as the women lined up for the 60m sprint. She didn’t disappoint, as her usual explosive start saw her win in a 7.19 - a new Irish Indoor record.

News from Tulsa

There was exciting news from the AAC Indoor Championships in Cincinnati as Shay McEvoy was part of the Tulsa quartet that set a meet record in the distance medley relay. In doing so, they set the third fastest time in the school’s history.

Kilkenny City Harriers athlete Shay McEvoy in action for the University of Tulsa

In the 5,000m it was a Tulsa clean sweep as Peter Lynch (KCH and Tulsa) finished third in 14.18, just three seconds behind fellow Irishman Cormac Dalton. Lynch then went on the next day to finish fifth in the 3,000m in 8.05. McEvoy was one place behind in sixth in a time of 8.06. He also competed in the one mile race, finishing fourth in 4.06

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