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Silver lining for Tadhg in Santry

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Tadgh Donnelly of Drogheda & District AC leads the field during the Junior Men’s 1500m event during the Irish Life Health National Junior Track & Field Championships at Morton Stadium. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Tadgh Donnelly of Drogheda & District AC leads the field during the Junior Men’s 1500m event during the Irish Life Health National Junior Track & Field Championships at Morton Stadium. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Tadgh Donnelly of Drogheda & District AC leads the field during the Junior Men’s 1500m event during the Irish Life Health National Junior Track & Field Championships at Morton Stadium. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Tadhg Donnelly's runner-up finish was the highlight for the Drogheda & District club as the National Junior Track and Field Championships took place at a wet and windswept Morton Stadium in Santry last weekend.

This really is the hotbed of Irish athletics, with many of the rising stars hoping to catch the eye of visiting coaches and secure a scholarship place in America in the near future.

Donnelly, fresh from his magnificent sixth place finish at the Senior Championships a fortnight earlier, was lining up in Heat 2 of the 1500m, which was seeded on the basis of recent performances over this distance.

With Heat 1 having been won in 4:07, it was clear that the medal winners were going to come from this race and the starter's gun couldn't come soon enough for this bunch of talented athletes.

When the pistol sounded, Donnelly took charge of affairs and led the field through the first lap in 66 seconds, with the whole field intact.

Passing through 800m in 2:13 meant that the next 700m was going to be a big wind-up of the pace, leading into a sprint finish, and that's exactly how things panned out.

With the third lap taking just over 60 seconds, Donnelly stretched out the pack and it was now down to himself and Sean Donoghue from DCH AC for the coveted gold medal.

Coming off the final bend, Donoghue had a little bit of daylight on Donnelly, who looked like he might overhaul his opponent in the last 50m, but on this occasion Donoghue proved to be too strong and took the gold medal in 3:58:55, with Donnelly second in 3:59:20.

Donnelly won't rest on his laurels as he's in action in the 3K and 800m this coming weekend on day two of these championships.

Also running the 1500m, but this time in Heat 1, was Sean Toner who's developing into a fine athlete, and he showed good tactical awareness by taking up a good running line in the early stages.

Toner put the work in over the tough middle laps and finished strongly to take eighth place in 4:20, a new PB time by four seconds which is a big margin over this distance, and his future in athletics looks bright.

In the 400m, run over a single lap of the track, Cormac Canning held good form to finish 4th in Heat 3 in a solid 54:06. This was useful running by Canning who was really up against it as the winner of the final won in a sub 49 seconds time.

The following day it was the turn of D&D's Masters athletes to toe the line at the National Masters Track and Field Championships at the same venue and things went very well from a local perspective.

Jenny Gregory got things off to a great start by taking the W35 200m title with her run of 32:08 and it's clear to see that she had the work done and was in great shape going into the race.

Training partner Barbara O'Donnell also ran well to claim the bronze medal in her W40 200m in a useful 33:43.

Frank Cruise went close in his M55 200m when finishing second in 29:60 against some good opposition. Also running the 200m, but this time in the M45, was Karl Carton who just missed out on a medal, finishing fourth in 27:07.

Next up was club coach Gerry O'Connor who had the run of the day in his M55 400m when storming down the back straight to gain an unassailable lead which he held all the way to the line in a lively 1:01:99.

This was a fine performance from O'Connor who had a bad lane draw on the outside and so had no one to work off over the tough second half of the race.

O'Connor had just missed out on a few medals at provincial level, so gaining the National title was just rewards for his efforts in training.

Also running in the 400m, but this time in the M35 race, was Paul Stuart who held good form on his way to National bronze with a fine run of 58:41.

World Masters champion Mark O'Shea had a good day at the office, winning his M45 800m in some style in 2:02:25, and he could go sub two minutes on this form.

The W45 3K saw Mary Leech take the National title with a sparkling run and her time of 10:27 left many of her younger rivals in the shade.

Running in the same race was club captain Yasmin Canning who finished eighth in 11:43, which was solid running over this difficult to judge distance.

The last event of the day saw Colin Leonard and Rodney Thornton both racing in the M35 5,000m. Leonard had a gutsy run to finish eighth in 16:31, while Thornton ran well to finish 14th in 17:00.

Elsewhere, Anastasia Drakoulaki had a terrific run to win her Under-16 Girls 100m at the 'Morton Live' event last Friday evening in Santry Stadium.

Drogheda Independent