AFTER four days, spread over two weekends and nine separate sessions, the Irish Life health national senior track and field championships were successfully completed on Sunday.
The determined efforts of officials, who planned the championships with meticulous detail, brought over 700 competition hungry athletes from all parts of the country to Morton Stadium in Santry. Overall, there were no complaints from anyone.
The first weekend of the championships produced some memorable performances from Cork athletes and it was always going to be a hard act to follow on the second weekend.
Leading the way once again was Phil Healy of Bandon.
Last weekend she strolled to victory in the 100m and was back on track again on Sunday in the 200m where she won her heat in 24.01 to qualify for the final.
Drawn in lane six, she was never threatened and won in a time of 23.57, with Limerick’s Sarah Lavin second in 23.74.
There was also a good effort by Healy’s Bandon clubmate Lauren McCourt who finished sixth in 24.78.
For Phil Healy, this was her 38th national title since winning her first title in 2012 as an U18 athlete.
Michelle Finn of Leevale was a class above her three rivals in the 3,000m steeplechase.
She took the lead from the gun and raced on her own to win in a time of 9:59.72, her sixth national senior steeplechase title.
This was a highly successful championships for her after winning the 5,000m title last week and followed up with a fourth place finish in the 1,500m.
Cork athletes dominated the women’s pole vault to fill the first five places! Una Brice of Leevale had a shaky start to the competition, with a first time clearance over 2.80m, followed by a third time clearance over 3.00m and a second time clearance over 3.15m.
This is when Orla Coffey of Carraig na bhFear entered the competition and she cleared first time, but Ciara Hickey of Blarney Inniscarra took two efforts to clear.
Remarkably, all three cleared first time at 3.30m and they all cleared 3.40m at the second attempt. With the bar at 3.50m, Coffey cleared at the second attempt, Brice at the third try, but Hickey made her exit.
Neither Coffey or Brice cleared 3.62m, leaving Coffey the winner of her first senior title, with Brice second with the same 3.50m clearance and Hickey third. Una Samuals was fourth with 3.15m from her Leevale clubmate Sara Zia Buckley with 3.00m.
Michael Healy of Youghal had a throw of 7.55m for second in the 56lb for distance and won bronze in the discus with a throw of 44.04m.
Callum Wilkinson of Togher finished well clear of his rivals in the 10,000m walk in a time of 39:52.05. He competes internationally for Great Britain and his time is a new British record.
He arrived in Cork last November to be coached by Robert Heffernan who holds the Irish record of 38:27.57 since 2008.
Wilkinson won the World junior title in 2016 and was third in the European U23 championships last year.
Annette Quaid of Leevale was fifth in the 800m in 2:11.37, with Dohenys junior Maeve O’Neill seventh in 2:12.70.
Conor Callanan of Leevale was sixth in the men’s pole vault with a clearance of 4.00m and Roisin Howard of Bandon was fourth in the weight for distance with a throw of 6.14m.
The Irish Life health national junior championships take place in Morton Stadium on Saturday, followed by the masters championships on Sunday.
Travel restrictions meant not everyone was able to get to Santry for the championships. Louise Shanahan of Leevale was fifth in the 800m in 2:06.38 at the British Milers Club meet in Stretford on Tuesday and followed up on Saturday with a win in the 800m in a time of 2:04.37 at the BMC meet at the Lee Valley stadium in London. She is a physics PhD student in University of Cambridge.
Meanwhile, Grace McKenzie of Belgooly and Luke Horgan of Leevale, who are on athletics scholarships at McNeese University in Louisiana, came safely through Hurricane Laura, classed as one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the area.
Many Irish scholarship athletes have yet to return to the US, while the national collegiate cross country championships, scheduled for the end of November, have been cancelled.