WITH 11 new records and many thrilling contests, last Saturday's Aviva All-Ireland Schools Track and Field Championships in Tullamore can lay some claim to being the best ever.
Sprinters got much of the attention and with some justification. Star of the meet was CBS Carlow's Marcus Lawler, whose time of 20.87 secs in the senior 200m not only broke the 30-year-old schools record but was an Irish junior record. For Lawler, it was also his first time below 21 seconds.
About 75 minutes before this epic run, Lawler smashed the 43-year-old 100m record when he ran 10.59. He completed a memorable day by helping CBS Carlow to 4x100m relay victory.
Over the longer distances, Coláiste íosagáin's Síofra Cléirigh Buttner ran a time of 2:03.81 for the senior 800m, knocking almost seven seconds off the previous best. Cléirigh Buttner's time was fractions outside Ciara Mageean's Irish junior record of 2:03.07. Last year, Cléirigh Buttner ran 2:10.27 to win the inter title, so Elizabeth McWilliams' senior record of 2:10.7 was always under threat.
Still, who would have thought that Cléirigh Buttner, The Herald Schools Sports Star of the Year, would demolish it so thoroughly? Or that second-placed Aislinn Crossey of Sacred Heart Newry would also go under the old mark with a time of 2:07.87?
Back with the sprints, Phil Healy of Coláiste na Toibhirte in Bandon was another double winner and record breaker. She ran 11.83 for the 100m, and then 23.98 for 200m – the first sub-24 second time at schools level.
A third sprint double was recorded by Zak Irwin of Sligo Grammar, who won the inter 100m and then shaved half a second off the 200m mark with victory in 21.75 secs.
Again in the middle distances, Seán Tobin of High School Clonmel set a new senior 800m record of 1:50.65. A close second was Cillian Kirwan of St Fintan's in 1:51.5. Tobin then won the 1500m, beating Andrew Coscoran of St Mary's Drogheda.
Producing another record was the W16 mile, won by Ballinrobe's Aisling Joyce in 5:16.87.
Double winners included Molly Scott of Coláiste Chonglais, who won both the junior 100m and the 75m hurdles. Brothers Kevin and Brian McGrath of St Pat's Navan made it a family double when Kevin took junior gold and Brian claimed intermediate gold in the 800m.
Taking the senior girls' 3000m in 10:25.24 was Sarah Ní Mhaolmhuire of Coláiste íosagáin, who also finished second in the 1500m.
In the day's last individual track race, Ian Guiden of St Aidan's took the senior 5000m in a time of 15 mins 15.60 secs. It was his first All-Ireland Schools title in his last ever schools race.
In the field, records fell to Daniel Ryan of CBS Thurles – 6.67m in the boys' junior long jump, Arlene Crossan of Loreto Letterkenny – 5.58m in the girls' junior long jump, and Darren Proud of Pres Ballingarry – 14.04m in the inter triple jump.
Other senior Leinster winners included Nessa Cooper Millett of Kilkenny College in the 400m hurdles, Sophie Parkinson Brown, also Kilkenny College, in the discus, Jamie Murtagh of Ashbourne CC in the high jump, Harry Purcell of Castleknock College in the 400m, Belvedere's Ryan Cleary in the walk, Peter O'Brien of St Fintan's in the pole vault, Michael Hanlon of Belvedere in the hammer, Stephen Rice of Wesley in the javelin and the Loreto Kilkenny relay team.