An array of medals
Wexford youngsters shine in Athlone
The Irish Life Health National Juvenile indoor championships took place in the state-of-the-art A.I.T. international arena, Athlone, last weekend.
Wexford's clubs were well represented with an array of medal prospects, who were aiming for the podium. The athletes went home with multiple medals and many left with confidence-boosting performances ahead of the busy outdoor season to come.
Aisling Kelly was without doubt one of the stand-out performers of the weekend. The Taghmon athlete is full of potential and ability and has had a superb indoor season.
Going into the weekend she would have had her focus firmly on making the podium twice in the girls' Under-17 60m and the 200m.
Saturday saw the 60m races. Aisling first had to contend with a stacked heat, featuring many medal rivals. While only coming third in her heat, her time of 7.80s was so impressive that she made it into the final.
However, after failing to finish in the automatic qualifying positions, Aisling was left with the difficult task of running from lane one in the final. Not ideal circumstances.
However, in the final she was like lightning out of the blocks and produced the race of her life to claim a bronze in a P.B. of 7.75s.
Day two saw Aisling back on track for the 200m. Cruising into the final, Aisling she stiff competition. Once again, Aisling produced another stunning performance to win yet another bronze medal. What a weekend and what an indoor season for the girl from Taghmon.
Another athlete who claimed double bronze was the talented Maeve Hayes of St. Paul's. In the girls' Under-18 long jump, Maeve put together a consistent series of jumps, with her best of 5.29m ensuring that she won the bronze medal by the narrowest margins on countback, proving that consistency is key.
In the high jump, Maeve was comfortably ahead of the fourth-placed finisher, with a best leap of 1.63m.
Myles Hewlett is arguably the most talented middle distance athlete to come out of Wexford in years. The United Striders man represented Ireland in the S.I.A.B. international schools cross-country in Santry and was now stepping down in distance and indoors to conclude his busy season.
Having ran 2:08 to win the Leinster Under-15 800m, Myles was tipped by many to medal. He did exactly what many thought and had a strong race to win the bronze in 2:09.
Also in the 800m, Danika Gilshinan (St. Paul's) finished sixth in the Under-17 race in 2:24:22. In the boys' Under-17 800m, Adam O'Connor (United Striders) was desperately unlucky not to make the final, finishing fourth in his heat.
The walks provided plenty of Wexford silverware on Saturday. The girls' Under-15 1,000m had no less than three competitors from Wexford.
Isabel Bawden of United Striders came home sixth. Craanford Harriers' Brídín Doyle was a clear winner by some 16 seconds. She was followed by Adamstown's Ciara Mooney, who took home a well-earned silver.
It was also a Wexford one-two in the boys' Under-18 1,500m walk. Taghmon's James Hanlon claimed victory. He was hotly pursued by United Striders man Ryan Kielty who won the silver.
In the boys' Under-16 1,500m, Darragh Flannelly of United Striders had a cracking race. In a close finish with less than two seconds separating Darragh from a medal, he finished sixth. Yet more impressive was his time, a ten-second PB of 4:25. Darragh can now look forward to the Outdoor season.
Kevin O'Mahony won an excellent bronze medal in the Under-13 long jump, only missing out on silver on countback. He jumped a great 4.66m. Not bad for an eleven-year-old!
He returned in the afternoon for the 60m and was unlucky not to make the final, placing fifth in his very fast heat.
On Sunday, he raced the 600m. This was probably a small step too far for Kevin and perhaps tiredness was an issue, but he still gave a good account of himself and finished 13th in 1:52s.
Wexford had a number of athletes competing in the shot putt. D.M.P's Shannon Codd was the winner of a bronze medal in the Under-13, throwing a best of 10.23m.
Macamores' Eva Casey finished sixth in the girls' Under-15 competition. Multi-eventer Saidhbhe Byrne was in action in the girls' Under-16 shot and finished sixth.
It was a busy weekend for Saidhbhe, who competed in the high jump also and finished a fine sixth.
On Sunday she was on track for the 60m hurdles. She was joined by D.M.P's Jane Sinnott. In a tough heat, Saidhbhe finished fifth with Jane sixth.
Dara Casey of Bree produced the performance of his life, winning the Under-17 boys' 60m hurdles in fine style and in the process coming away with a new P.B. of 8.65s.
In the same race, Jack Forde of St. Killian's finished fifth. Forde had been on the podium earlier in the day when he won the Under-17 high jump. Jack was the only athlete in the field to clear 1.80m.
Ruby Reynolds was hotly tipped for success in the Under-14 girls' 60m hurdles. Having only started the sport last year, her rise has been outstanding.
On Sunday, she ran a time of 9.38s, securing a national bronze medal. It was a busy weekend for Ruby who had come tenth in the long jump the previous day.
Emma McCarthy of St. Killian's was one of the youngest participants from the county. Still only Under-12, she was fancied for a medal in the 600m race, and duly won the bronze in a time of 1:52:20.
Michael Kent was another athlete looking for a medal in the boys' Under-13 high jump, holding onto the bronze on countback with a best jump of 1.40m. His clubmate, Darragh Stone, competed in the boys' Under-12 high jump, finishing 15th with a best of 1.15m.
Also winning a high jump medal was Orlaith Deegan of S.B.R. in the girls' Under-15 competition, securing bronze medal by jumping 1.50m.
Cian Bates of Kilmore finished a fine fifth in the Under-19 boys' long jump. This was a great achievement for someone who is only one year back in athletics, and to add to that his best jump of 5.91m was a P.B.
Kara Morrissey of Menapians and Layla Stafford of D.M.P. were both in action in the girls' Under-13 long jump. Morrissey finished 14th with Stafford 16th.