Juveniles among medals at national indoor finals
The pinnacle of the indoor athletics calendar for Wexford's rising stars took place in the International Arena in Athlone last weekend, with the National indoor championships being held over two days.
The Wexford medal haul from the four days of Leinster championships was quite significant, with three athletes surpassing championship best performances and multiple podium positions for the county. Juveniles aged from Under-12 to Under-19 travelled to the midlands stadium once again in the hope of All-Ireland glory.
On Saturday, there was early glory for Wexford. Ryan Carthy-Walsh of Adamstown was showing great form coming into the championships, with a good string of personal bests in the high jump since the start of the indoor season in January. Coupled with a Leinster championship best performance earlier in the month, the 15-year-old was always going to be a major contender in the boys' Under-17 age group, having already won a bronze in the National Junior championships.
Easing over a starting jump of 1.80m, he immediately bagged the national title without difficulty, but proceeded to jump for the national record. Soaring impressively over 1.98m on his first attempt, he marked his name in the Irish record books.
Ryan then went on to attempt the 2.03m standard for qualification to the European Youth Olympic Festival, which will take place in Tbilisi, Georgia, next summer. With his final attempt barely rocking the bar from its place, he was happy to head back to Wexford with the All-Ireland gold and the Irish record in the bag, with plenty more opportunities for greater heights ahead of him over the coming months.
Also at Under-17 level, the Menapians boys' 4 x 200m relay team sailed safely through to the final with an automatic qualification spot earned in their heat.
The great depth this team has is clear considering two of their members; anchorman David McDonald and John Murphy, had to sit out the indoor season due to injury.
In the final the four boys - Sam O'Neill, Jack Hayden, Luke O'Neill and anchor Ciarán Maher - made no mistake in taking a set of national bronze medals in a time of 1.35.38, just a fraction of a second off the silver.
The main body of Wexford athletes were competing on the Sunday and once again our young guns proved their consistency and their ability to adapt to the highest of standards on the national stage.
Adamstown's Marguerite Furlong has been to the forefront in her age group at the shot putt for a number of years and was attempting a four-in-a-row of national titles, having set the national record in 2013. Competing in the girls' Under-16, she threw well under her own P.B. to take the national title with 11.66m and win her fourth gold indoors.
With numerous 60m qualifiers from the Leinster championships, there was huge Wexford interest in the sprints. At Under-13 level, Sabia Doyle (Menapians) and Katie Whelan (Bree) showed outstanding talent and composure for ones so young.
Sabia's 8.08 seconds C.B.P. from Leinster stood to her as both girls manoeuvred through the heats into the final.
A blistering heat time of 8.02 seconds saw Sabia equal the national record for her age group. She went on to record a time of 8.04 in the final to become the national champion, well clear of her nearest rival.
These are outstanding sprint times and demonstrate a level of consistency to rival the most experienced of athletes.
Another national sprint medal was coming Wexford's way when Ryan Murray of Bree competed in the first of his three events from the Leinsters. In the final of the boys' Under-18 60m., once again Ryan took the gold with a new P.B. of 7.13 seconds.
With two more events to go next weekend, sprint hurdles and 200m, the possibilities for this young shining star to win multiple medals are strong.
Another member of the Nicky Cowman high jumping squad was in action in the boys' Under-13 and once again Nicky's charge became the national champion. Jack Forde of St. Killian's has been making steady progress through the heights, training with Ryan Carthy-Walsh weekly, and confident on the back of a win at Leinster. Jack jumped an outstanding 1.45m, a new P.B., to tie, on countback, for the gold in a very hard-fought competition.
At the long jumps, Taghmon's Aisling Kelly was in great form as reigning Leinster champion. With a best jump of 4.48m in the girls' Under-13, Aisling earned a bronze medal place on the podium.
It was bronze also for another Leinster champion, competing in his first indoor All-Ireland. United Striders' Aidan Shannon knocked over 2.5 seconds off his P.B. in a very fast-paced boys' Under-12 600m, crossing the line in third after three laps of the boards.
In the girls' Under-18 triple jump, Sophie McCabe from Bree reached the 10.89m mark on her fifth jump to take a silver in the event, half a metre ahead of her nearest rival and only nine cm. off the gold.
Back on the track the walks saw more gold for Wexford. First on the podium was James Hanlon from Taghmon, competing in his first All-Ireland.
James became national champion in a time of five minutes and 22 seconds for the one km. event at Under-14 level. Joe Mooney of Adamstown has been the reigning champion at his age level since 2010 and did not disappoint when he defended his national title for the current year.
Other walks medals were won at Under-16 level by Joseph Hanlon of Taghmon, who took silver, and his training partner, Triona Mooney of Adamstown, who fought over every inch of a very hard 1.5k in a large field to take a bronze medal at the finish.
This first weekend of the National indoor championships proved very successful for the Wexford Juveniles with some outstanding performances across all disciplines.
The remaining competitors who qualified from Leinster will travel to Athone next weekend, taking inspiration from those who have already made the podium on the national stage.