Young Ruby a force of nature
Under-age scene is vibrant and competitive in Wexford
The second day of the Mr Oil Wexford Juvenile track and field championships drew massive crowds to the Enniscorthy Sports Hub.
As the early heavy rain and mist gave way to glorious afternoon sunshine, the audience was treated to a feast of exciting and hard-fought athletics action.
An enjoyable feature of the county championships is that athletes move beyond the comfort zone offered by their main event and try their hand at other events.
The number of multiple medal winners mentioned in this report gives some indication as to just how popular this approach is and, equally, how strong many of our athletes are across a range of events requiring quite different strengths and skills.
They don't come more multi-faceted than Ruby Reynolds. This young lady is a force of nature.
Despite the fact that she is still in her first year of competitive athletics, she already has an All-Ireland indoor gold medal in sprint hurdles.
The Menapians athlete, competing Under-13, showed just what a phenomenal and untried talent she is as she powered her way to victory in three events: 60m, 60m hurdles and high jump.
In the two sprints there was plenty of daylight between her and her closest pursuer. In the high jump, while she called a halt having cleared 1.25m, she looked to be clearing a height well in excess of that. She was definitely a candidate for athlete of the meet.
Having said that, there were others who would be challenging for that title.
Jack Forde (St. Killian's), having won All-Ireland gold the previous day at the combined events, won the Under-16 high jump (1.60m), the triple jump (12.05m), and the shot putt (10.98m), the latter ahead of another multiple medal winner, Nathan Murphy (Menapians).
Jack also took silver in the 200m, with Bree's Darra Casey taking the win in a last desperate dip for the line.
No less versatile than Jack is Aisling Kelly of Taghmon. She won the Under-16 shot putt (8.06m), triple jump (9.29m) and 200m. She was also a member of the winning Taghmon relay team.
Saidhbhe Byrne of Enniscorthy, another athlete who made the podium at the All-Ireland combined events, won the Under-15 80m hurdles, shot putt and, towards the end of the day and following a terrific tussle with Rachel Gregg, high jump. Saidhbhe's temperament and general approach to the sport is exemplary.
Cosmo Hewlett (U.S.A.C.) looked hugely impressive in the Under-14 javelin, winning with a best effort of 36.14m, almost twelve metres clear of the field.
He also won the 80m and 200m, was second, behind his brother, Myles, in the 800m, and helped his relay team nab the runner-up spot behind Bree.
With his winning mix of strength, speed and endurance, Cosmo might consider trying his hand at combined events. At the very least he can allow himself the luxury of keeping his options open for the next few years.
Another classy looking all-rounder is Ben Wall of Adamstown who won the Under-15 high jump, 200m and 800m.
There were more golds for Adamstown, with Tara Doyle winning the Under-18 200m and long jump, and Stephen Power taking the Under-12 shot putt gold.
S.B.R's multi-talented Orlaith Deegan won the Under-14 long jump with a best of 4.02m. She also won the 75m hurdles and was a close second in both the 200m, behind Menapians' Ailbhe White, and the 800m behind another Menapian, Sinéad O'Reilly. Sinéad's win gave her the middle distance double as she won the 1,500m two weeks previously.
Ailbhe White (Menapians) has a killer stride and an abundance of fast twitch muscles to push it along as she showed in winning the 80m and 200m (Under-14).
Kevin O'Mahony (D.M.P.) would appear to be blessed with fast and slow twitch fibres in equal measure. Having already proved himself as a force to be reckoned with on the country over the winter, he showed great explosive power in taking a pair of Under-12 golds in long jump and 60m.
Indeed, D.M.P's strength at under-age track running continues to grow with a 1-2 in Under-9 60m for Judy Sinnott and Saoirse Flanagan, followed by a gold in 300m for Saoirse; and Cora Kelly's win in the Under-13 600m.
Cian Donovan (Menapians) had a track double, winning the Under-11 60m and 600m in impressive style.
Oisín Rochford of Bree won the Under-13 60m hurdles and placed second in 80m.
There was further sprint glory for the club with Darra Casey taking both the 100m hurdles and, as mentioned above, 200m titles (Under-16), and Olivia Howe winning the Under-19 200m.
There were sprint hurdling golds also for: fellow Bree athlete Oisín Rochford (Under-13); Striders duo Eoin Hannon (Under-12) and Eoin Shannon (Under-14); Adamstown's Robert Wall (Under-15); St. Killian's Sonya Milburn (Under-16); and Paul Gately of D.M.P. (Under-18).
David Obasohan (Enniscorthy) won the Under-18 long jump and 200m and was second, behind Kilmore's Jack Roche-Doyle, in shot putt. Indeed, the latter was well ahead of David with a best effort, and a new P.B., of 10.65m.
Sammy Delaney (St. Paul's) looked majestic in winning the Under-19 long jump and 200m. Enniscorthy's Jacob English was second in both cases while also taking gold in the shot putt.
Conor Brennan (D.M.P.) won the Under-17 sprint hurdles race, placed second in both shot and 200m, and was third in long jump.
Malachy Cathcart (Enniscorthy) won the Under-14 long jump and placed second in 80m.
Blánaid Fogarty (Enniscorthy) won the Under-17 200m, placed second in shot, and was third in both 800m and 100m hurdles.
The latter was one of the best and most competitive hurdles races of the day, with Bree's Sophie Codd taking the win and Liadh Dwyer of Menapians second.
Rachel Power (Adamstown) won the Under-17 shot putt and placed second in both 200m, behind Blánaid, and 800m. Rachel's positive can-do attitude and cheerful disposition are two assets every young athlete might strive towards.
Aaron Browne (U.S.A.C.) showed that he has speed endurance as well as speed when he won both the Under-17 200m and 800m.
Rob Sterling, competing Under-13, was one of St. Paul's most successful performers at the championships with wins in the 600m and high jump and bronze in 80m.
The ever-improving Eimear Fortune (Kilmore) held off a tough counter-attack by Ciara Martin of St. Paul's to take the gold in a thrilling Under-15 800m. Eimear also placed fourth in the 200m.
Myles Hewlett (U.S.A.C.) is a natural born running machine. He took off like a rocket in his Under-14 800m and kept his foot on the gas all the way to the finish line. As mentioned above, his brother, Cosmo, won the race for the silver. Myles also picked up a bronze in the relay.
Nathan Murphy of Menapians is developing into a fine middle distance runner as evidenced by his winning run in the Under-16 800m (2.08 minutes P.B.). There was also a silver medal for Nathan as he placed a good second, behind Jack Forde, in the shot putt (10.37m).
Nathan's clubmate, Jack Halpin, was a very convincing winner in the Under-13 javelin (17.02m).
Aedan Rogers (U.S.A.C.) is already a fine distance runner and he gave a classy display from gun-to-tape in winning the Under-19 800m.
There was also middle distance success for the U.S.A.C. ladies with wins for Louise Doyle (Under-16), Aisling Power (Under-17) and Rebecca Bawden (Under-18).
Emma McCarthy (St. Killian's) won the Under-11 600m and Cara Kelly (D.M.P.) won the Under-13 300m. Paul Freeman (St. Killian's) won the Under-18 800m.
Ciara Mooney (Adamstown) held off the challenge of Grace O'Keefe (Macamores) to win the Under-14 javelin in 21.39m. Bree's Grace Donohoe won the Under-13 javelin by a street with her final throw (22.16m).
Gergely Pap (St. Paul's), competing Under-17, showed wonderful technique as he launched the shot out to 12.00m, well clear of the field. He will be a force to be reckoned with when he eventually moves into the Senior ranks.
Shannon Codd (D.M.P.) was a runaway winner in the Under-12 shot putt with a best of 7.26m. Clubmate Grant Palmer won the Under-15 shot (11.41m).
There was nothing between Shannon's clubmate Layla Stafford and Katelyn Doran-Farrell (Enniscorthy) in the Under-12 long jump, with both getting out to 3.89m. Layla was adjudged the winner on countback.
There were also long jump golds for Enniscorthy's Tomás Brennan (Under-10), Striders athlete Patrick Doyle (Under-17), Taghmon's Hannah Roche-Kelly (Under-17), and Tara Doyle of Adamstown (Under-18).
Bree's Shane Laffan, having won the Under-9 60m, went on to win the 300m race, in the process holding off clubmate Billy Doyle.
There were two Under-10 sprint golds for Bree by way of Leah Bolger and Jayden Kenny. Both also helped their relay teams to gold. Meanwhile, Kara Morrissey brought a rare sprint gold to St. Killian's in the Under-12 60m.
The girls' Under-11 60m gave Bree a 1-2-3 with Ciara Laffan winning, Keira Wilson second, and Maura Doyle third.
It was a day with many tight finishes across all events. One of these was the gold medal-winning jump by Lucy McCormack of Menapians which, at 3.03m, was just two cms. clear of Nessa Long's best effort.
Taghmon's Dearbhla O'Hanlon won gold in the Under-16 high jump and took silver in the 80m hurdles. Clubmate Hannah Roche-Kelly picked up a bronze in the Under-17 200m to go with her gold in the long jump.
Earlier in the day the club's Ben O'Toole was a comfortable winner of the Under-13 80m, while his sister, Chloe, won the Under-15 200m. Ben also picked up a silver in the 600m.
There were race walking golds for Craanford's Brídín Doyle (Under-14), Tríona Mooney (Adamstown, Under-19) and Striders athletes Aidan Kehoe (Under-14), Eve Byrne (Under-16) and Ryan Kielthy (Under-18).
It was a great day for Bree in the relays with gold for the Under-10 girls, gold and silver for the Under-10 boys, gold for the Under-12 girls, and gold for the Under-14 boys.
The Striders Under-18 boys' team worked well together to take the gold ahead of D.M.P.
Space does not permit this report to cover the many heroic duels that took place, in all age categories, on both track and field. Hopefully, however, it serves to convey the strongly vibrant and competitive nature of the under-age athletics scene in Co. Wexford today.