D&D young guns shine in Tullamore
The future of any club depends on its ability to recruit and retain young members and Drogheda & District AC's decision to expand its juvenile section clearly bore fruit at last weekend's Leinster Juvenile Track & Field Championships in Tullamore.
These championships are a real hotbed for emerging talent and the medals never come easy at this level, yet the red vests of D&D were to the fore in quite a few of the events.
The run of the day belonged to young Tadhg Everitt Thompson who held his nerve when the pressure was on and kept good form, kicking off the last bend to win a highly competitive Boys Under-19 3K in 9:32.52.
Thompson has been a real find for D&D and isn't afraid of the hard work needed to succeed in athletics.
In the Boys Under-15 300m, which is a new event for these championships, Harry Delaney had a terrific run to get up for the silver medal in an eye-opening 41:36.
Just missing out on a medal, finishing fourth in the Boys Under-18 400m, was Tom Cummins who was pipped on the line by a mere two-tenths of a second despite running a fast 53:84 on his debut over this distance.
Also finishing fourth was Abigail Tegart who delivered a strong run in the Girls Under-18 3K in a solid 11:00.04.
Young Liam Mulligan continues to impress and his PB run of 9:43.81 placed him fifth in the Boys Under-18 3K.
Cormac Canning placed fifth in his Boys Under-19 800m in 2:11.16 in what turned out to be a tactical race, while in the Boys Under-18 800m Sean Toner was sixth in 2:11.45, with Harry Caffrey seventh in 2:16.10.
Anastasia Drakoulaki helping the Louth team to claim silver in the 4x100m relay, Lily Cummins repeated that feat in the Under-17 4x100m relay for girls while Moya McCabe and Abigail Tegart helped Louth to win bronze in the Under-19 4x100m.
Earlier in the week, at the Dublin Athletic Board Graded Series meeting in Santry Stadium, Brian Pentony gave a magnificent display of running when winning his 400m C1 race in a great time of 56:61.
Pentony is a late-comer to athletics, after having a successful career in Gaelic football, and just like fine wine he continues to improve with age. If he can stay injury-free he'll be in the mix for a medal when the National Masters Track Championships take place later in the season.
Also running in the same race was club coach Gerry O'Connor who placed fifth in 61:57.
Running in the Men's 1500m C1 race were Cillian Dyas - who ran well to finish second in 4:41.44 - and Robert Maher who was fourth in 4:44.69.
Elsewhere, Shane Larkin won his category at the National 5 Miles Road Championships, held in conjunction with the Irish Runner 5 Mile Road Race in Phoenix Park last Saturday.
Larkin has the heart of a lion when it comes to racing. Once he gets the smell of a medal there's no shaking him and his aggressive running saw him take the gold medal in a lively 27:43 in his M45 section.
Also competing were Brian Martin, who ran a useful 28:11 on the challenging course, and John Reilly who finished in 30:31 and will go quicker with some more races in his legs. Mike Staunton also ran and finished in 39:44.
The previous Wednesday evening, the BHAA OPW 5K took place in Phoenix Park where Paul McDonnell was D&D's first finisher in 33rd place in 20:06 - good running given the blustery conditions. Conor Cooney was 52nd in 21:37, followed by Gerry Mullins - 80th in 23:19 - and Nuala Reilly who was 83rd in 23:31.
Over in Trim, at last Friday's Braveheart 5K, there were some good performances from D&D members, with Pat O'Grady winning his category in 18:52 when finishing 21st overall.
Robbie Maher was third in category when finishing 47th overall in 19:36, while Conor Cooney was second in category in 22:27.
Prolific racer Nuala Reilly duly won her category in 24:12, while Mairead O'Connell finished in 33:24 and Geraldine Reilly ran 36:47 for this undulating course.
Donal Branigan clocked 34:00, Valerie Campbell 36:51 and Carol Mallon 38:44.
Meanwhile, Stephen Kelly continued his dominance of the weekly Oldbridge parkrun when he romped home a clear winner of the challenging 5K run in 17:14. Rodney Thornton was third overall in 18:25, Paul Reilly seventh in 19:53 and Francis Murray eighth in 20:03.
For the ladies, first across the line in 48th place was Michele McCullough in 25:28, while Mary Mulligan was 113th in 35:22 and Sinead McGuinness 123rd in 52:07.