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Versatile Saidhbhe shines at track and field championships in Enniscorthy

Menapians duo Halpin and White also catch the eye


Enniscorthy’s winning relay team of Elizabeth Gahan, Emily Waldron, Saidhbhe Byrne, Maggie O’Connor.

Enniscorthy’s winning relay team of Elizabeth Gahan, Emily Waldron, Saidhbhe Byrne, Maggie O’Connor.

Top three in the Senior 3,000m (from left): Róisín O’Reilly (second), Ciara Wilson (first), Clare Barrett (third).

Top three in the Senior 3,000m (from left): Róisín O’Reilly (second), Ciara Wilson (first), Clare Barrett (third).

The Menapians relay team of Catherine O’Connor, Elaine McMahon, Ilze Bedrite and Paula Gondard.

The Menapians relay team of Catherine O’Connor, Elaine McMahon, Ilze Bedrite and Paula Gondard.


Enniscorthy’s winning relay team of Elizabeth Gahan, Emily Waldron, Saidhbhe Byrne, Maggie O’Connor.


THE FIRST of two days of the Mr Oil Wexford track and field championships took place at Enniscorthy Sports Hub on Wednesday. Featuring Wexford’s top Seniors, Masters and older Juveniles (Under-18, Under-19), conditions for the meet were perfect with little wind, no rain and temperatures which, while not quite balmy, were not cold.

The most impressive of the younger athletes in action were Saidhbhe Byrne and the Menapians duo, Eimear Halpin and Ailbhe White.

Saidhbhe, a talented multi-eventer, has been a strong contender in the throws events this year at regional and national level. Following on from her javelin PB the previous week at the national Senior championships, she won the shot easily with a best effort of 9.61 metres ahead of Áine Cullen (United Striders) in second place.

Saidhbhe also won Under-19 and Senior 100m hurdles, was second in Under-19 100m, and was on the winning 4 x 400m team.

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Eimear won the Under-19 100m and 400m and was on the silver medal-winning relay team. Ailbhe won Under-18 100m and shot. Emma Hannon of United Striders looked silky smooth in taking the Under-18 1,500m title.

Enniscorthy athlete Elizabeth Gahan is a joy to watch over both long and short distances. She tore around the bend in the Senior 200 metres and, flying up the straight, looked to have the gold in the bag.

Had she sensed that Menapians speedster Clodagh Dunbar was closing fast? Is that why she stumbled in the final ten metres and tumbled across the line just as her rival drew level

It is never a pleasant experience to hit the deck in a race, especially when the deck is made of an unforgiving rubber substance. It is no less pleasant to see gold snatched from your grasp at the death! Or to put it another way: Clodagh ran the perfect race.

The experienced Kilmore coach, mentor and former national champion Fiona Kehoe ran away from the field in the 800 metres, with just Ciara Wilson (DMP) and the aforementioned Elizabeth Gahan prepared to give chase, albeit at a distance.

Fiona’s unrelenting pace meant that she was never going to be challenged. While Ciara and Elizabeth were still together at the bell, the former’s greater experience and deeper reserves came into play as she pulled away to take the silver, with Elizabeth staying on to take bronze.

Ciara was under the weather at the recent national championships where she finished well off the pace in the 5,000 metres. While the 800 metres run showed that the pep was back in her step, her performance, subsequently, in the 3,000 metres left one in no doubt that her poor showing at the nationals represented a temporary deviation from the mean.

Clubmate, and former Wexford Novice and Inter cross-country champion, Clare Barrett, stayed with her for the early part of the race. It is good to see Clare, whose form over the past year has been a little up and down, rediscovering her mojo.

She could not be faulted for falling off the pace as Ciara’s metronomic stride pattern showed no sign of slackening. A strong Róisín O’Reilly (Menapians), just back from a long injury break and looking full of running, moved past Clare to take on the role of chief pursuer.

And that is how it stayed, with the three crossing the line in that order. Kate Reidy (United Striders) took the Novice title.

United Striders Masters athlete Joe Lillis took the endurance theme to extremes as he won the 1,500m and 5,000m and placed second in 800m. He was also part of the winning 4 x 400m team, along with Dave Larkin, John McGrath and Tomás Harrington.

Adding a little celebrity gold dust to proceedings was national pole vault medalist and top decathlete Michael Bowler. The Enniscorthy man, the distinctive and knowledgable online voice of Athletics Ireland, has endeared himself to the Irish athletics fraternity with his brilliant commentary.

In the absence of DMP’s Pádraig Hore and St. Killian’s star Jack Forde, it was left to Bowler and Menapians veteran Michael Halpin to do battle in the shot, albeit with that time-honoured sense of camaraderie for which throwers are renowned.

Bowler, using the traditional glide technique, won easily with a throw of 12.07 metres. Halpin, coming from a fine family tradition of discus and shot putting, used a variety of techniques (standing, glide and rotation) to place second.

In doing so, both Michaels gave the other competitors the opportunity to learn some of the finer aspects of shot putting.

A contingent of Slaney Olympic’s strongmen took the opportunity to work on technique, including Jessie O’Connor who, showing he has shot putting skills to match his marathon running exploits, took the bronze.

John O’Connor (Enniscorthy) was crowned Over-50 champion, while Michael Halpin added the Over-35 title to his Senior silver.

Maggie O’Connor of Enniscorthy AC relishes meets such as this, especially when they are on home turf. She made the podium in both Senior and Over-35 shot, in both cases finishing just behind experienced thrower Áine Cullen (United Striders).

She was a 100 metres silver medalist behind clubmate Emily Waldron and, at the end of the evening, she, along with Emily, Saidhbhe Byrne and Elizabeth Gahan, helped Enniscorthy to relay gold.

With the much-coveted Brother Egan Cup going to the best overall club, expect a big turn-out at the second and final day of the championships this Wednesday.

Women Senior 3,000m walk: 1, Sabina Sweeney (SO); 2, Esther O’Leary (SO).

Men Senior 3,000m walk: 1, John Egan (St. Killian’s); 2, Enda Waters (SO).

Women Under-19/Senior 100m hurdles: 1, Saidhbhe Byrne (EAC).

Women 100m – Under-18: 1, Ailbhe White (Menapians); Under-19: 1, Eimear Halpin (Menapians); 2, Saidhbhe Byrne (EAC); Over-35: 1, Emily Waldron (EAC); 2, Maggie O’Connor (EAC); 3, Ilze Bedrite (Menapians); Over-50: 1, Angela Butler (Taghmon); 2, Deirdre Bowers-Kavanagh (EAC); 3, Paula Gondard (Menapians).

Men 100m - Over-35: 1, Enda Waters (SO); 2, Paul Browne (SO); Over-50: 1, John O’Connor (EAC); 2, Seán Doyle (Kilmore); 3, Alan Ronan (SO).

Women Senior 200m: 1, Clodagh Dunbar (Menapians); 2, Elizabeth Gahan (EAC); 3, Kate Reidy (US).

Men Senior 200m: 1, Dave Larkin (US); 2, Tomás Harrington (US); 3, Robert Casey (Menapians).

Women 400m – Under-19: 1, Eimear Halpin (Menapians); Over-35: 1, Sonya Byrne (US); Over-50: 1, Angela Butler (Taghmon); 2, Paula Gondard (Menapians); 3, Sabina Sweeney (SO).

Men 400m – Senior: 1, Tony Harpur (Menapians); 2, Paul Browne (SO); 3, Enda Waters (SO); Over-50: 1, John O’Connor (EAC); 2, Seán Doyle (Kilmore); 3, Alan Ronan (SO).

Women Senior 800m: 1, Fiona Kehoe (Kilmore); 2, Ciara Wilson (DMP); 3, Elizabeth Gahan (EAC).

Men Senior 800m: 1, Tomás Harrington (US); 2, Dave Larkin (US); 3, Joe Lillis (US).

Women 1,500m – Under-18: 1, Emma Hannon (US); Over-35: 1, Esther O’Leary (SO); 2, Ilza Bedrite (Menapians); 3, Áne Cullen (US); Over-50: 1, Catherine O’Connor (Menapians); 2, Sabina Sweeney (SO); 3, Angela Butler (Taghmon).

Men 1,500m – Over-35: 1, Joe Lillis (US); 2, John McGrath (US); 3, Tony Harpur (Menapians); Over-50: 1, Pat O’Callaghan (US); 2 Seán Doyle (Kilmore); 3, Michael Quigley (SO).

Women 3,000m – Senior: 1, Ciara Wilson (DMP); 2, Róisín O’Reilly (Menapians); 3, Clare Barrett (DMP); Novice: 1, Kate Reidy (US); 2, Kate Jackman (Adamstown); 3, Jelena McNamara (EAC).

Men Senior 5,000m: 1, Joe Lillis (US); 2, Tomás Harrington (US); 3, John McGrath (US).

Women shot put – Under-18: 1, Ailbhe White (Menapians), 5.98m; Under-19: 1, Saidhbhe Byrne (EAC), 9.61m; 2, Eimear Halpin (Menapians), 7.56m; Senior: 1, Saidhbhe Byrne (EAC), 9.00m; 2, Áine Cullen (US), 7.75m; 3, Maggie O’Connor (EAC), 7.00m; Over-35: 1, Áine Cullen (US), 7.65m; 2, Maggie O’Connor (EAC), 7.01m; 3, Esther O’Leary (SO), 4.75m; Over-50: 1, Deirdre Bowers-Kavanagh (EAC), 5.82m.

Men shot put – Senior: 1, Michael Bowler (EAC), 12.06m; 2, Michael Halpin (Menapians), 9.23m; 3, Jessie O’Connor (SO), 7.85m; Over-35: 1, Michael Halpin (Menapians), 9.32m; 2, Jessie O’Connor (SO), 8.03m; 3, Paul Browne (EAC), 6.49m; Over-50: 1, John O’Connor (EAC), 8.40m; 2, Alan Ronan (SO), 6.75m; 3, John Bowler (EAC), 5.97m.

4 x 400m Senior relays – women: 1, Enniscorthy (Saidhbhe Byrne, Emily Waldron, Maggie O’Connor, Elizabeth Gahan); 2, Menapians (Róisín O’Reilly, Clodagh Dunbar, Eimear Halpin, Ciara Dolan); 3, United Striders (Sonya Byrne, Kate Reidy, Sandra Young, Emma Hannon); men: 1, United Striders (Joe Lillis, Dave Larkin, John McGrath, Tomás Harrington); 2, Menapians (Tony Harpur, Mick Halpin, Rob Casey, Nathan Murphy); 3, Slaney Olympic (Paul Browne, Enda Waters, Paul Murphy, Alan Ronan).