Aoife secures a trio of golds
Young guns out in force
The county's younger athletes were out in force last weekend at the Leinster indoors in Athlone. There were so many impressive performances that it is difficult to know where to start.
In terms of medal haul, there is no doubt that top billing must go to Bree's Aoife Cloke-Rochford with her three sprint golds. However, that should not blind us to the many heroic efforts put in by our athletes both on track and field.
Let's start with Jack Forde of St. Killian's who struck gold in the Under-15 high jump and again in the shot putt.
Maeve Hayes of St Paul's was an impressive winner of the Under-16 high jump achieving, en route, a new P.B. of 1.58m. She also won gold in the long jump.
Indeed, St. Paul's had a fine weekend in the field events with Sammy Delaney first in Under-18 long jump and the powerful Gergely Pap taking the Under-16 shot putt title. Gergely's team-mate and fellow shot-putter, Milan Kovacs, was just out of the medals in fourth.
It was a good day for Taghmon with a trio of gold medal winners. Joseph Hanlon took the Under-18 1,500m title while his brother, James, won the Under-16 1,500m.
Talented multi-eventer Aisling Kelly of Taghmon took gold in the Under-15 hurdles. She also placed third in the 60m. Her team-mate, Hannah Roche-Kelly, was fourth in the Under-16 60m while Muireann Hore placed fourth in Under-16 shot putt.
The sprinters of Menapians once again showed their class with Leinster titles going to Ciarán Maher, Aaron Tierney-Smith and Sam O'Neill. Ciarán took the win in the Under-19 200m, running an impressive P.B. of 22.85 to take his first Leinster title. Training partners Aaron and Sam took titles in the 60m hurdles also.
Luke O'Neill took bronze in the 60m behind Ciarán in second, with both running P.B's en route. Aaron also placed third in the flat 60m race, running a P.B. These talented young men will be joined by their clubmate, David McDonald, next week as they look to impress at the national Senior indoors.
April Keeling of Menapians was unlucky to be disqualified in the 60m where she looked to be hot favourite for the win. However, she put that disappointment behind her to jump a new best in the long jump, just missing out on a medal.
Bree also excelled on the track with golden girl Aoife Cloke-Rochford taking, not one, but three golds Under-19 in 60m, 60m hurdles and 200m, a stunning performance.
Aoife's younger team-mates, Abbie Doyle and Gracie Kehoe, took gold and bronze respectively in Under-12 60m. Abbie and Gracie went on to take gold and silver respectively in the 60m hurdles. Gracie also won the Under-12 high jump and, in clearing 136cm, smashed the old record (129cm). Brilliant.
Olivia Howe lost out on a photo finish for a medal in the Under-18 60m sprint. On the boys' side, the club's Darra Casey took the Under-15 60m hurdles title, shaving 0.32 seconds off his P.B.
Seán Rowley took silver in the Under-13 60m with Shane Doran, recovering from injury, just behind in a good fifth place. Seán went one better to take gold in the 60m hurdles. Oisín Rochford placed fifth in the Under-12 60m hurdles final. Oran French, competing at his first indoor championships, was rewarded with a new P.B. over 60m.
In the boys' Under-14 800m, Aidan Shannon of United Striders and Conor Doyle (Bree) produced one of the most exciting races of the weekend. Taking control early on, Aidan looked much the stronger in the early part of the race.
However, Conor turned it on to draw level with him on the back straight. In the helter-skelter sprint to the line, Aidan got his nose in front to take gold. Well done to both athletes. It was great to see Conor back to full fitness following a cracked kneecap (ouch!).
Conn Mernagh of D.M.P. had a courageous run in the boys' Under-12 600m. His decision to follow the early pace of the leader looked like it might back-fire. However, he had enough in the tank to clinch the silver medal position.
Staying with middle-distance, Ciara Martin (St. Paul's) won her heat in the Under-14 800m and, while she gave it her all in the final, she finished outside the medals. Sinéad O'Reilly (Menapians) had an excellent fifth place finish in the 600m, running strong off the back of her cross-country training.
Kilmore Senior athlete Fiona Kehoe took advantage of an open 800m race on the programme to test her leg-speed. Fiona looked very strong throughout, winning the race in a P.B. of 2.06.
Saidhbhe Byrne of Enniscorthy was second in both long jump and hurdles (Under-14). There was bronze for both Dannan Long in Under-13 high jump (P.B. 1.30m) and Jacob English in Under-18 long jump. Enniscorthy's Ross Daly impressed with silver Under-18 in both 60m and 200m.
Conor Brennan (D.M.P.) placed second in Under-16 high jump (1.63m) with Adam Leahy of Menapians fourth.
Triona Mooney of Adamstown placed third in Under-18 walk with team-mate Aoibhinn Crean fifth in the Under-15 walk.