High achievers are recognised
The athletics Leinster Star Awards took place in the Seven Oaks Hotel, Carlow, on Saturday, with five awards in total going to Wexford.
The first award went to Sophie McCabe from Bree who was Wexford's top performing Juvenile girl during 2015. On the back of superb 400m and triple jump performances at provincial level, Sophie went on to national and international success, winning gold at the Celtic Games in the triple jump in late July.
The top performing Juvenile boy to receive his Leinster Star was Ryan Carthy-Walsh of Adamstown after winning numerous Leinster titles at Under-17 and Junior level in the high jump, triple jump and sprint hurdles; setting championship best performances at Leinster and national level, and topping this with two international high jump medals - the first a gold at the schools international in Scotland and his silver medal-winning jump of 2.09m in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Wexford's Senior Star was St. Paul's thrower, Emma Owens, who had an excellent season in the cage at both Leinster and national level. Emma, who is coached by her father, Eamonn, continues to excel with personal bests in the discus.
The Leinster shield for best club in the province in the Under-9 to -11 category went to Bree for their outstanding performances in the Leinster pairs competitions, going on to medal at All-Ireland level. Former Bree Chairman, Pat O'Leary, accepted the prestigious shield on behalf of his club.
For outstanding commitment to the sport of athletics, Nicky Cowman of St. Killian's was presented with a special award from Athletics Leinster. Nicky is known in athletics circles the length and breadth of Ireland. It has been part of his life since his first taste of athletics at his primary school sports, where he finished second on three occasions.
As a teenager he went on to run cross-country and was on the Wexford Senior team, running his first Leinster championships in Fairyhouse as a member of D.M.P. He also played hurling around this time, in the hey-day of Wexford hurling in the 1950s.
In the early 1980s Nicky took up coaching with Bree, inspired by his daughter, Fiona, who specialised in hurdles.
Fast becoming a much sought-after hurdles coach, he branched out into high jump coaching and while these two events remain a speciality, he has coached all disciplines for almost 40 years now.
His generosity with his time and expert knowledge knows no bounds and to this day he has never been known to decline an opportunity to coach or advise an athlete, regardless of which club or county they are from.
His dedication to the sport is not confined to the fields, tracks and indoor halls of Co. Wexford, and over the years he was instrumental in the setting up of the senior Enniscorthy area club, Slaney Olympic, of which he is a life member. He also was a founding member of St. Killian's in 2006, of which he is also a coach, President and life member.
On the wider organisational front, Nicky was the Chairman of the County Board for a number of years and he is currently Vice-President of Athletics Wexford. He served a full term as Chairman of Athletics Leinster and until recently sat on the National Juvenile committee.
With his extensive technical knowledge, Nicky is a regular track or field referee - or both, at county, Leinster and national competitions. He is a true diplomat when dealing with a question or a complaint and rarely has to refer to the rule book, as he knows it off by heart.
Nicky says the high-point of his athletics career was when Ryan Carthy-Walsh, who he has coached for the last seven years, won silver in the high jump at the European Youth Olympics last summer.
All in Wexford congratulate Nicky on this award, well and truly deserved and earned by a man that has shaped the sport in Co. Wexford and will continue to do so for many years to come.