Healy the star performer as records fall in Tullamore
At an event that produced myriad magnificent performances, one really stood out - that of 17-year-old Sarah Healy, whose stunning display of middle-distance running proved the highlight of the Irish Schools Championships in Tullamore on Saturday.
Never before had one so young produced a performance of this calibre here, the Holy Child Killiney student setting off alone and breaking Ciara Mageean's senior girls' 1500m record of 4:19.00, clocking 4:18.32.
But away from that, it was clear the talent pipeline flows strongest in the sprints, where Ciara Neville and Aaron Sexton starred. Neville capped off an unbeaten schools career with victory in the senior girls' 100m in 11.62, 200m in 23.79, then again anchoring Castletroy College to victory in the 4x100m.
"This is my favourite track and one of my favourite events, so I'll be sad leaving this," said Neville.
Sexton, meanwhile, removed any doubt that he's the fastest underage rugby international Ireland has ever produced, clocking a record of 10.52 to edge David McDonald in the senior boys' 100m and winning the 200m in 21.12.
Terenure student Rhasidat Adeleke was peerless in the intermediate sprints, taking the 100m/200m double in 11.68 and 24.05, while in the field events Nelvin Appiah of Moyne Longford set an intermediate boys' high jump record with 2.02m.
The senior boys' 1500m produced the best head-to-head clash, where Charlie O'Donovan of Coláiste Chríost Rí out-kicked his Cork rival Darragh McElhinney after a gruelling race, one in which McElhinney clocked a blazing mid-race 800m of 1:59.
Cian McPhillips was a class apart in the intermediate boys' 1500m, the Longford student coasting a 55-second final lap to take gold. Davicia Patterson of Hunterhouse edged a high-calibre senior girls' 400m, setting a championship best of 53.90 to beat Kilkenny student Ciara Deely (54.33).
Jack Mitchell completed a gruelling day's work by winning triple gold in the 400m (49.23), 400m hurdles (54.71) and anchoring Presentation Carlow to victory in the 4x400m.
Sommer Lecky continued her winning ways in the senior girls' high jump, the Strabane student clearing a best of 1.79m, while Sophie Meredith of Newcastle West was impressive in winning the senior girls' long jump with 5.93m.
Meanwhile at the Cork Marathon, Gary O'Hanlon set a course record of 2:21:10 to take victory just six weeks after running the London Marathon. Zola Flynn took the women's title in 2:58:55. Rio Olympian Lizzie Lee was best in the Women's Mini Marathon, clocking 34:18.