Athletics: Masters have plenty left in the tank

Hugh Gallagher

Lindie Naughton

Over 500 athletes aged from 35 to 85 competed in the Glo Health National Masters Track and Field Championships held in Tullamore.

They ranged from former international athletes, such as Kelly Neely of City of Lisburn, to fresh newcomers who have come to realise that there’s more to athletics than marathon running and that track and field can be both challenging and fun.

Neely was the outstanding favourite to win the women’s 800m after clocking a season’s best of 2:20.25 at the Le Cheile IMC Meet in Leixlip  last month. She didn’t have it all her own way  in Tullamore – although she came out on top and was first W35 in 2:20.28, less than half a second behind in  2:20.66 was Niamh Fitzgerald  of Lucan, who was first W40.

In the sprints, Moira Peppard of Trim successfully  defended her W50 100m and 200m titles. Fastest woman on the day was Mary Devlin of City of Derry who won the W40 100m in 13.17.

Of the men, Ger Cremin made it a treble – he won the men’s M35 100m in a good time of 11.59 secs, the 200m in 24.03 and the 110m hurdles in 17.01 secs. Later in the afternoon, he contributed to the Riocht club’s domination of the men’s relays.

Second fastest over 100m  on the day was David Hayde of St LOT, who was first M45 in 11.65; Hayde also won the 200m in 24.35. Oldest sprinter in action was Nenagh’s Pat Naughton born 1932, who won the M80 100m. He later  impressed in his favourite high jump and also won the shot.

Over 5000m, Stuart Moloney of Mooreabbey Milers was first home and first M35 in 15:33.17. Donore’s John Dunne was less than five seconds behind for second, with Paul Fleming of Rathfarnham WSAF first M40 in 15:39.72.

Seán Breathnach from Galway, who has six national senior shot titles to his credit, was expected to dominate the throws and he didn’t disappoint. His 45.72m in the discus put him 12 metres ahead of the field. He also won the shot with a heave of 16.99m and the M35 javelin with a throw of 44.27m. Breathnach rounded off his day with a spectacular effort of 16.99m for victory in the weight for distance.


With the World Masters taking place in Lyon, France next week, many were using the competition as a test of their fitness. Among them was world indoor record holder Joe Gough of West Waterford, who won the M60 800m in 2:18.14.

The 3000m produced a good battle with Maria McCarthy of Kerry  beating Paula Grant of Portlaoise by less than two seconds.

Oldest competitor on the day was 91-year-old Hugh Gallagher from Donegal. He won the M90 shot, beating Denis Howard. Long may they all flourish!