Monday 25 September 2017

Irish vest icing on the cake

BOYNE AC's success in breeding talented young athletes is well known, and the latest star in the making to come off the conveyor belt is Sacred Heart School second-year student Niamh Kelly.

And a fantastic year in track & field will be crowned next Saturday when she travels to Glasgow to represent her country for the first time in the Combined Events Schools International.

Niamh who is almost 14, has been involved in athletics for many years and has of late proven that she is an athlete strong enough to compete on the international stage.

After a downturn in performance in 2011, an intense training plan was devised, and under the expert guidance of coach Johnny McCabe she returned to full fitness and trained vigorously alongside teammate and cousin Amy McTeggart, with both girls set to compete across the water in the green singlet next weekend.

It has been a fantastic year for Niamh at competitive level, one that began with a silver medal win in the pentathlon at the All Ireland Combined Events in Nenagh last January. She then went on to win gold in the high jump - one of her speciality events - at the Ulster Indoors in Belfast in February.

Also in February, she competed in the Leinster Indoor competition in Nenagh, achieving a new personal best in the High Jump of 1.52m, followed by a gold medal win in the All-Ireland Indoors in March.

May saw a great run of form for Niamh as she racked up the points in the Louth Championships, with gold in both the high jump and hurdles, silver in the long jump and bronze in the 100m sprint. A bronze medal finish in the high jump at the Leinster Outdoor event in Tullamore in June, was followed by a silver medal in the All-Ireland outdoor event held in July, when she was also part of the highly successful intercounty relay team who took home silver from Tullamore.

Selection for the Irish team was a tough journey, with Niamh clinching the gold medal in the pentathlon event in the Leinster Schools Combined Events, held last August in Santry.

Having beaten Elizabeth Morland from Cushinstown AC on that occasion Niamh then conceded gold to her in the All-Ireland Schools competition in September, taking home the silver medal by only the narrowest of margins, but her performance was still enough to earn her that coveted place on the Irish team alongside Amy and Munster pair Laura Cussen and Vicky Cusack, and Boyne AC wish her well on her big day next Saturday.