Sports Hub buzzing
Senior and Juvenile 'B' events held
The first evening of the Mr Oil Senior track and field championships took place at Enniscorthy Sports Hub on Wednesday. This is the second year that the Seniors took to the tartan to compete for county titles, and the impact of the new facility was evident with a marked increase in standards across all events with some particularly notable performances in the field events.
Athletes from twelve clubs competed in an extensive programme of events from long hurdles, walks, sprints to 3,000m races, long jump, triple jump and high jump. The Senior and Novice events were dominated by a crop of extremely talented athletes who are still competing at Juvenile level, with the Under-17s eligible to vie for Senior honours for their first time.
It was evident that this year's Under-17, Under-18 and Under-19 athletes are amongst the strongest, both in numbers and talent, that Wexford has seen for many years and none showed any hesitation in stepping up to the top grade.
The Senior high jump competition saw standards that have not been witnessed on Wexford soil for many, many years, if ever, with Ryan Carthy-Walsh from Adamstown winning his first Senior title, over the bar easily at 1.85m. In second place was D.M.P's Shane Parle, a newcomer at Under-18 level to the event, with a personal best of 1.80m.
The highlight of the evening was the first jump over seven metres at the long jump pit. Since the removal of walls that were originally constructed at the pits, athletes are now able to achieve more accurate take-offs and the remedial works paid off when Tony Stafford of Menapians hit a new personal best of 7.07m in the Senior men's competition. The Senior women's long jump title went to Bree's Sophie McCabe.
The quality of the Senior women's sprints events was outstanding with the national 100m Senior joint champion, Phil Healy of Bandon (Cork), competing as a guest. Fresh from the European Team Championships, where she competed for the highest placed ever Irish team, Phil competed in both the 100m and the 200m and gave the Wexford ladies a run they could be proud of.
Winning both events, she was ahead of Menapians' Chloe Whelan and Adamstown's Shannon Wall , followed by Jane Shovlin from Menapians in the 100m. In the 200m, Bree's Sophie McCabe, Kilmore's Katie Daly and Shannon Wall, were all pushed into medal position in fast races led out by Phil, who is coached by Menapians' Shane McCormack.
In the men's sprints, two Under-17s dominated with Menapians' David McDonald coming through from the four heats to take the final in supreme style, winning his first Senior county title.
The Novice 200m title went to David's training partner, Ciarán Maher, not yet 16 years old. These young talents are consistently pushing up their standards with every race and brought fresh excitement to the county sprints competitions.
Similar to the women's sprints was the men's 400m where Michael Bowler was competing as a guest, pushing up the standards. Michael, one of Ireland's premier combined events athletes, was competing in his D.C.U. vest and was ahead of Menapians duo Barry Upton and Shaun Donohoe, with bronze going to Enniscorthy's Chris St. Claire Johnston.
The long hurdles were dominated by Juvenile athletes, with Mairéad Fortune from Enniscorthy winning the Senior title and Conor Gaffney from Menapians taking honours in the men's event.
In the Novice 800m there was tremendous competition as Slaney Olympic's Ger Forde pushed out from the first lap, with United Striders' Paul Doran in strong pursuit, making for a thrilling two-lap race.
The promising talent of Enniscorthy's Under-17, Liam Butler, took the bronze and is sure to be a major contender of the future over this distance. John McGrath of United Striders won the Masters 800m with a superb performance.
In the Senior 1,500m, once again Ger Forde showed his strength at middle distance by being crowned county champion, with S.B.R's Myles Gibbons taking silver ahead of John McGrath. Myles went on to win the Masters 3,000m later in the evening.
The women's distance events saw D.M.P's Ciara Wilson in form, taking the 1,500m title ahead of the Menapians duo of Lorraine McMahon and Catherine O'Connor. Jackie Carthy of Kilmore was once again dominant over the longer distances with a win in the Masters 3,000m, with the Novice title going to Lorraine McMahon. Slaney Olympic's Emily O'Connor and Croghan's Mary Kennedy were also in the medals.
The walks were dominated by Adamstown's Mooney family, with Joe taking the men's Senior title and his mother, Marie , taking the women's Senior title. Lar Doyle from Slaney Olympic was comfortable taking the Over-50 title.
The evening ended with the excitement of the 4 x 100m relays where the local club won the Senior men's event to the delight of the large crowd of Enniscorthy spectators.
With the first evening under wraps, the second evening of competition will start at 7 p.m. sharp on Wednesday, July 1. Field events will include the Senior shot putt and triple jump, including Juvenile triple jump competitions.
The rejuvenated Senior track and field championships is now a hotly-contested competition with a number of clubs in the running for the Brother Egan Cup, awarded to the best Senior track and field club from the county championships. Menapians are the 2014 holders, but with the 2013 holders, Enniscorthy, performing very strongly, this year's cup competition is still open.
Future contenders must also include United Striders and Adamstown who are building in strength and starting to make an impact across a range of events at Senior level in track and field. The 2012 champions, D.M.P., also have clocked up a very respectable number of Senior medals this year.
Full results of the championships are available on the Athletics Wexford website. The County Board would like to extend an invitation to all club Juveniles to attend as spectators, with no charge, at this week's culmination of the local track and field season.
All the Juvenile clubs in Wexford were out in force for the Mr Oil county 'B' track and field championships, held at Enniscorthy Sports Hub on Friday.
With events for athletes aged from Under-9 to Under-13, every medal was hard fought for in a range of events including sprints, 300m, turbo javelin and long jump, and a series of mixed relays for each age group. Athletes that had won an individual medal in the 'A' championships in May were ineligible to take part, allowing emerging talent to compete for medals.
Most of the clubs were represented on the podium at the end of almost three hours of competition on the track, with no club being obviously dominant in any event.
County track and field Secretary Linda Rogers commented that 'the 'B's are an opportunity to expose young athletes to competition in a more fun and participative environment. The emphasis is on getting involved and the mixed relays provide a great chance for children from different clubs to work together, fostering great inter-club relationships from a young age'.
With the Juvenile track and field season in Co. Wexford now complete, the attention turns next weekend to the Juvenile and Junior national championships which will see our more elite young athletes make another journey to Athlone to take their shot at All-Ireland honours. The Juveniles will start competing on Saturday, while the Juniors and Under-23s will be in action on Sunday, all in Tullamore, with some exciting performances predicted.
A number of teams from United Striders, Adamstown, Menapians, Bree and Macamores qualified at Leinster level for the All-Ireland pairs competition for Under-9s to Under-11s.
These teams were eager to demonstrate their skills on the national stage in Tullamore on Saturday.
The medals went to Gracie Kehoe and Grace Donohue who won silver in the Under-10 turbo javelin; Abbie Doyle and Gracie Kehoe who came third in the Under-10 60m sprint; Seán Rowley and Shane Doran, also third in the Under-11 60m sprint, and Rhyan Whelan and Seán Rowley, winning bronze in the Under-11 long jump.
All of these young athletes were competing for Bree and performed to the best of their ability to take home medals from the highest grade in Ireland.