Wexford to fore in all areas
Forde causes stir in weekend full of star performances
The Leinster Under-12 to Under-19 track and field championships took place in Tullamore recently.
As last year, Wexford athletes were very much to the fore in all areas, with many making the podium and others (fourth place finishers) qualifying, along with medal winners, for All-Irelands.
For athletes, coaches, officials and parents, this weekend is as much a feat of endurance as it is a feast of athletics action such is the number of events to get through.
Even before a medical emergency on Saturday caused proceedings to grind to a halt, the start times on the programme were beginning to appear meaningless. Pity those who had to stay for the relays at the end of the day as these were running two hours late.
Errant time-keeping aside, the Leinster championships can always be relied upon to provide high class entertainment of the competitive kind. For athletes up to and including Under-16, this is a necessary step to qualifying for nationals with the top four going through (Under-17 and up may enter directly).
Wexford had a number of star performers over the weekend, all of whom will now be hoping to make an impact on the national stage in a couple of weeks' time.
The St. Killian's phenomenon that is Jack Forde caused quite a stir in the stadium with his record-breaking antics.
On Saturday he won the Under-16 shot putt with a P.B. of 13.41m, more than two metres clear of second.
On Sunday, just as he was warming up for the high jump he was called to the triple jump. He trotted across to the pit, found his mark and with his first effort set a new championship best performance of 12.42m, beating the previous record from 2006 by three cms.
Back then to the high jump where he cleared 1.83m. Another C.B.P., and a good day's work completed? Not quite.
With Jack the only one left in the competition, the bar was raised to 1.86m. He sailed over first time - another P.B. and a new C.B.P. He then returned to the triple jump and completed his series of jumps.
He did not match the distance achieved in his first inspired jump. Nor, however, did anyone else do so, not to mind getting within a metre of it. Three golds, two C.B.P's, and one happy Jack.
For Striders, and for Wexford, one of the stars of the weekend was Myles Hewlett. On Saturday he lined out in his first race, the Under-14 1,500m.
Settling in behind the leaders for the first couple of laps, he made his move at the mid-point, opening up a comfortable lead and going on to record an impressive win (4.41 minutes). Fellow Strider Finbarr Kelly was eleventh.
In the 800m the following day there was no settling in for Myles as he set off at a scorching pace which none of his fellow competitors was willing or able to match. He kept the tempo up on the second lap and, by the finish, had an unassailable lead on the field.
His winning time of 2.11.11 minutes bettered the previous C.B.P. of 2.12.59. Clubmate Aidan Kehoe was tenth in the same race.
Menapians rookie, Ruby Reynolds, has been impressing all and sundry since her breakthrough at the national indoors earlier in the year. Her performances at the Leinsters garnered further praise.
She effortlessly won her heat of the Under-13 60m hurdles (9.78s) before going on to run even faster in the final (9.54s), winning from Abbie Doyle of Bree in second place.
Later in the day in the long jump competition, Ruby put together a brilliant series of jumps, the best of which was a gold medal-winning 4.74m, one centimetre off the C.B.P.
Darra Casey of Bree provided Wexford with yet another double gold. On the first day he won the boys' Under-16 100m hurdles, his 14.49s being over 0.5s clear of his nearest pursuer. The following day he won the 250m hurdles (35.31s).
Aaron Tierney-Smith (Menapians) also had more than 0.5s to spare in winning the Under-19 110m hurdles in a P.B. of 15.11s, just 0.01s outside the record.
In the 400m, Aaron was in front at 300m, was passed in the home straight, but finished strongly to take the silver in 51.68s, another P.B.
Aisling Kelly (Taghmon) did just enough to qualify for the final of the girls' Under-16 200m. She upped the tempo in the final to take the silver in a time of 26.27s.
Aisling also finished third in the triple jump (9.43m). On the following day she won her 100m heat to make the final. She went on to crown her weekend by winning the gold in 12.56s.
Orlaith Byrne (S.B.R.) had a good win, with plenty in hand, in the Under-14 75m hurdles (13.21s). The following day she lined out in the 80m, winning her heat and placing second in the final (10.90s).
Saidhbhe Byrne of Enniscorthy A.C. easily won her heat of the Under-15 80m hurdles (13.06s). She then went on to win the final in 12.88s.
Saidhbhe was second in the javelin (400 gm.) with a best effort of 38.61m. She also placed sixth in the high jump with 1.45m, the same height as was cleared by the four athletes in front of her. Countback is merciless! D.M.P's Rachel Gregg was just behind Saidhbhe on 1.40m.
Bree's Olivia Howe caused quite a scare with the unorthodox approach she took in winning the Under-19 100m. In the final few metres, and with a finger-tips victory just about in her grasp, such was her determination to get her dip in first that she crashed to the ground as she crossed the line…head first!
Recognising the seriousness of the situation, the medical people moved very quickly and ensured Olivia received textbook treatment. The Bree girl was taken to the local hospital and kept in for observation overnight.
She was given the all-clear the following day and released. That last desperate dip gave her the win in a time of 13.62s, her margin 0.03 seconds.
In the 2k walk, girls Under-14, Under-15 and Under-16 were sent off together. Craanford's Brídín Doyle, competing at Under-14, caused a sensation by winning, not just her own category, but the race outright in a time of 11.22.19 minutes.
Isabel Bawden (United Striders) took the Under-14 silver, Ciara Mooney (Adamstown) was fifth, and Grace Byrne (S.B.R.) came sixth. Ciara Murphy (U.S.) took the Under-15 bronze.
There was also Under-16 bronze for clubmate Eve Byrne, with Aoibhinn Crean (Adamstown) one place behind her.
Triona Mooney (Adamstown) was third in the Under-19 3k walk. Jack Byrne (S.B.R.) won the Under-15 2k walk (13.59.22 minutes). Ryan Kielthy (U.S.) won the Under-17 3k walk (17.18.66 minutes).
In the boys' Under-17 discus (1.5 kg.), Gergely Pap (St. Paul's) produced an impressive series of throws, his best effort of 35.48m, over 1.5 metres clear of the field, being more than enough to take the win.
In the shot putt, Gergely's first effort was 13m, or would have been had he not fouled it. At the second time of asking he got the sphere out to 12.96m. That proved to be the best of his series and sufficient to take a second win. Clubmate Milan Kovacs was sixth.
Taghmon's Pádraig Hore was, notwithstanding three no-throws, no less convincing than Gergely in the manner in which he took the Under-19 discus (1.75 kg.) title. He won with 42.08m.
On a bit of a roll, he went on to win the Junior shot putt (13.02m). The following day Pádraig was second in the Junior discus, this time, however, having to be content with a distance of 33.22m. Blame weary arms and a swirling wind. He also picked up an Under-19 silver in the six kg. hammer (33.19m).
Wexford women cleaned up in the throws. Adamstown had a 1-2 in the girls' Under-19 shot (four kg.), with victory going to Marguerite Furlong (9.85m) and Zara Power taking the runner-up spot (8.18m).
Lystus Ebosele (D.M.P.) was a comfortable winner of the girls' Under-18 shot putt (three kg.) with her penultimate effort, 13.18m, the best of a consistent series.
Adamstown's Éadaoin Stafford was third on 10.84m and Claire O'Brien (D.M.P.) was fifth.
Lystus also took the Junior discus title, her best throw being 34.54m, just ahead of Marguerite on 33.89m. The athletes finished the other way around in the All-Ireland schools earlier in the month.
The following day saw Lystus moving up a gear as she won the Under-18 discus with a best throw of 39.97m. Éadaoin Stafford was third.
In the Under-19 discus, Marguerite also improved on her top throw of the previous day, taking the gold with a series best of 34.73m. Amy Forde (St. Killian's) was second (27.15m).
The previous day Amy won the Junior hammer (four kg.), her longest throw, 31.65m, giving her a winning margin in excess of 3.5m! Amy then went on to win the Under-19 hammer (four kg.) with plenty to spare (34.52m). Marguerite Furlong took the bronze.
Talk about a medal rush! Yet, there was more, much more, to come.
Bronagh O'Hanlon (Taghmon) won the Under-18 girls' hammer (three kg.) with a throw of 32.80m.
Elaine Oladiran (Enniscorthy) won the Under-15 hammer (2.5 kg.), achieving a best distance of 29.38m, ahead of D.M.P's Aisling O'Brien (26.73m). Elaine also won the shot putt (11.32m).
In the girls' Under-17 javelin, two Adamstown athletes made the podium, with Kate Jackman taking gold (29.94m) and Rachel Power bronze (26.31m). The club's Sonia Mooney was third in the Under-18 javelin (26.58m), with Regina Rochford of Kilmore in fifth.
Maeve Hayes (St. Paul's), still getting back to full fitness following an ankle injury, won the Under-17 long jump with a best effort of 5.00m. Maeve also picked up a medal in the high jump, coming second, on countback, with a clearance of 1.53m.
Rachel Power (Adamstown) was third on 1.50m. Rachel also won bronze in the triple jump (9.56m).
The Striders camp were delighted with Patrick Doyle's win in the Under-17 triple jump (11.07m). Patrick, having placed second at the Leinster indoors, has been improving steadily ever since. He also placed third in the long jump (5.38m).
Joshua Hewlett (U.S.), a winner last year, won again this time around in the Under-18 javelin (700 gm.) with a massive 49.90m throw, over eleven metres clear of the field.
In the girls' Under-14 high jump, Orlaith Deegan (S.B.R.) and Ratoath's Laura Kelly cleared 1.43 metres. Orlaith took the gold on countback.
Those of a certain age will recall, from their childhood, the Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner TV cartoons. Road Runner, or Accelerati Incredibilus, had a serious turn of speed, much to the chagrin of Mr. Coyote.
Ben Wall of Adamstown displayed similar acceleration when he staged a stunning sprint finish in the boys' Under-15 1,500m to clinch the win in 4.36.13 minutes.
For Striders, Darragh Flannelly was third (4.41.26) and Aidan Shannon was sixth (4.50.65). Robert Wall (Adamstown) was tenth.
On the relays front the Wexford Under-15 girls' 4 x 100m team took the inter-county title in a time of 52.71s.
The Under-15 boys' team held on, by 0.8s, for the bronze. Both the Under-17 girls and Under-17 boys' teams finished in the runner-up position.
If those were the highlights, there was still plenty more to excite the Wexford contingent.
Ailbhe White qualified for the Under-14 200m final where she placed sixth (28.07s - same time as fifth). Cosmo Hewlett (United Striders) was sixth in the boys' Under-14 event (27.96s).
Taghmon's Chloe O'Toole won her heat of the Under-15 200m but, despite running faster (28.00s) in the final, was tailed off and finished seventh.
Nic Walkden placed second in his Under-18 100m heat and was sixth in the final (12.48s).
April Keeling (Menapians) and Hannah Roche-Kelly (Taghmon) qualified from their heats of the girls' Under-17 100m. Twice in fact, as a clock malfunction meant that the heat had to be re-run. Indeed, temperamental clocks were an issue throughout the weekend.
In the final, April was adjudged by the officials to have broken and was given her marching orders. There were no problems at the second time of asking and Hannah ran a good race to place fifth in 13.55s. She also placed eighth in the 200m final.
Adam Leahy of Menapians made it through to the final of the boys' Under-17 100m in which he placed sixth (12.46s).
Nic Walkden (United Striders) was happy to find himself in the slower of the two heats of the boys' Under-18 100m. He qualified with ease and placed sixth in the final (12.48s).
Both April and Adam were subsequently rewarded with silver medals as members of county relay teams.
Conor Brennan (D.M.P.) was third in the Under-17 200m (24.81s). He was also third in the high jump (1.60m), with Conor Murphy (U.S.) fifth and Adam Leahy (Menapians) seventh.
Kilmore's Sam Molyneux made it to the final of the Under-18 200m in which he placed seventh (25.61s). He was also sixth in the 400m.
In the Under-19 200m, Sam Delaney (St. Paul's) was fourth (23.70s) and Jacob English (Enniscorthy) was sixth (24.17s).