Large haul of medals from Leinster schools
Wexford athletes travelled in large numbers to the Leinster Schools track and field championships over two days last week, following a very successful qualification campaign out of the South Leinsters held in Kilkenny.
Taking in the very strong Dublin region, the Leinster Schools is one of the toughest competitions a young athlete competes in, with the prize being a chance to make qualification for the All-Ireland Schools, the Tailteann Games interprovincial and the Celtic Games international.
With these kind of prizes up for grabs, a reduced number of age groups and big fields of emerging talent in all events, a medal at the Leinster Schools is one of the hardest fought for prizes in the athletics calendar.
The first day of competition took place on Wednesday in Morton Stadium, Santry with the majority of competitors being from the Minor and Junior age grades, with some Under-16 events.
The throws saw the first medals come Wexford's way when Marguerite Furlong (St. Mary's, New Ross and Adamstown) took the Leinster title in the Junior shot putt, throwing 11.66m and following up with a very clear first place in the Junior discus with 35.35m.
In the same shot competition her clubmate, Zara Power (Loreto Wexford and Adamstown) was third in the Junior with 9.57m. Also winning a Leinster title was Bronagh O'Hanlon (Presentation Wexford and Taghmon) who was first in the Junior hammer with a throw of 34.41m.
Also in the field events, representing St. Peter's College, Jack Hayden (Menapians) took a silver in the Under-16 long jump with a leap of 5.51m. In the Junior boys' long jump, Sammy Delaney (Bridgetown V.C. and St. Paul's) took a bronze medal home with a jump of 5.36m.
Over on the track, sprinter Ciarán Maher (Enniscorthy C.B.S. and Menapians) had an excellent race to win the Under-16 200m and was closely followed by Ross Daly (Kilkenny College and E.A.C.) who got silver in the same race, proving real Wexford dominance at this distance.
In the few Senior events held on day one, Enda Cloake (St. Peter's College and Menapians) got silver in the Senior steeplechase and Tim Bowler (Enniscorthy C.B.S. and E.A.C.) was third in the Senior boys' 110m hurdles in a time of 15.27 in a fast race that saw a new record set.
The second day of competition on Saturday saw the older athletes at Intermediate and Senior grades compete, also in Santry, but without the bonus of the day off school.
Once again there were fine performances in the throws events with much success for Wexford schools. Katie Young (Presentation and Menapians) threw 37.80m to earn silver in the Senior hammer, over 15m clear of her nearest rival.
Kathlyn Furlong (Coláiste Abbáin and D.M.P.) was second in the Intermediate shot putt with 10.47m in a competition that saw a new record set.
Pádraig Hore, representing New Ross C.B.S. (Taghmon) was second also in the Intermediate shot with a throw of 13.37m, and Peter O'Shea (St. Peter's and D.M.P.) took yet another silver in the throws, with 45.82m in the Inter boys' javelin.
Of the three golds that came back to Wexford on day two, Ryan Carthy-Walsh's in the Intermediate boys' high jump was the crowning glory of the performances. Representing Good Counsel College (New Ross), the Adamstown athlete was not only a clear Leinster Schools champion, but with a jump of 2.03m, he achieved the standard set for qualification to represent Ireland in the European Youth Olympics.
This remarkable achievement by the 15-year-old Junior Cert. student has now made him eligible for selection to Team Ireland for the competition in Tbilisi, Georgia next July.
Fellow Good Counsel student and also Adamstown clubman Joe Mooney took another gold in the Senior boys' 3,000m walk, having to produce almost a sprint finish to take the Leinster title in a very close competition. Mean Scoil Gharman, Enniscorthy took the third gold for Wexford when Sophie McCabe (Bree) put in a great hop, skip and jump to win the Intermediate girls' triple jump title.
Also in the jumps, Mikey Cullen (St. Peter's and Menapians) was third in the Senior boys' long jump with 6.54m in a very closely-fought competition. His clubmate, Jane Shovlin, representing Loreto, Wexford, was also third in the Senior girls' long jump, recording a best of 5.04m.
On the track the first medal went to Chloe Whelan (Mean Scoil Gharman and Menapians) in the Intermediate girls' 300m hurdles where she won the silver. Ryan Murray (Bree), representing Enniscorthy C.B.S., won two more silver medals in the sprints, in both the Inter 100m and 200m.
In the Inter girls' 2,000m walk, Triona Mooney (St. Mary's and Adamstown) won the bronze medal, with over half a minute to spare on her nearest rival.
In the finale, the traditional dominance of Menapians in the relays transferred to the Wexford C.B.S. team of Sam O'Neill, David McDonald, Luke O'Neill and Aaron Smith who were third in the 4 x 100m relay.
These athletes will now prepare for the upcoming All-Ireland schools championships which will be held in Tullamore on May 30. Many more will be representing Leinster at the Tailteann Interprovincial Games on June 20.
All eyes will be set on achieving good performance standards at the All-Irelands to earn a place on the Irish team at the schools international, the Celtic Games, which will be held in Scotland in July.