Cork athletics: Leevale dynamo Michelle Finn thriving since Australian move

Cork athletics: Leevale dynamo Michelle Finn thriving since Australian move
Michelle Finn of Leevale AC is running very well in Australia at the moment. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile 

WHILE the indoor season continues to gain pace, there are athletes who have opted to miss out on the attractions of undercover competition in favour of the outdoors.

In Australia the Sydney Track Classic was held on Saturday and Michelle Finn of Leevale, who has based herself in Australia for the winter, produced another top class performance in the 3,000m steeplechase.

The race attracted just four runners but Finn put in a display of front running to score a convincing win in a time of 9:38.04 to improve on her previous best of 9:41.23 she clocked last July.

In the past year she has based herself in Dublin and the result for her is very encouraging. While in Cork her performances were in decline and would have continued that way only for changing location.

Her target this year is the Olympics and she must be confident now of achieving the qualifying standard of 9:30.00.

After achieving one of his targets of running a sub four minute mile a week earlier, Charlie O’Donovan of Leevale and Villanova was back on track for the College Last Chance meet in the Armory in New York. On this occasion though his job was to act as pacemaker for two of his Villanova team mates.

His aim was to bring them through 1200m in three minutes and he achieved that to perfection. Unfortunately, there was no happy ending as neither of them broke four minutes.

At the Texas A&M Aggie Twilight meet in College Station, Texas, Grace McKenzie of Belgooly and McNeese University was third in the 200m in 25.42 and fourth in the 60m hurdles in 8.65, while team mate Luke Horgan of Leevale was second in his heat of the 800m in 1:56.76.

The Sun Belt indoor championships were held in Birmingham, Alabama, with Sam Healy of Leevale and University of Louisiana Monroe in action in the long jump.

He opened the competition with a foul, and followed up with 7.25m and 7.15m in the next two rounds.

His best jump came in the fourth round with 7.40m, followed by 7.26m and 7.18m to finish second behind Ronnie Briscoe Jr with 7.43m.

The Munster juvenile indoor championships were held in Nenagh last weekend, a stadium that has made a huge contribution to athletics, including Ireland’s first ever indoor national championships in 1988.

By far the most successful event for Cork was the sprint hurdles with Cork athletes dominating.

Leevale hurdlers, in particular, were in fine form with Jack McGrath the winner of the U19 title, James Ezeonu won the U18 event, Colin Murphy won U17 from clubmate Conor Callanan, Sean Carmody won U16, and John Cashman won U15.

The girls hurdles saw Natalia Golka win the U14 title, and Emily Wall won U18 to round off a great day for the Leevale hurdlers.

Other Cork winners were Hannah Falvey of Belgooly U15, Ruby Cummins of Bandon U13, and Tiffany Nwaedozie of Belgooly U12.

Records were few and far between, as were middle distance runners from Cork, but Maeve O’Neill of Doheny’s bucked the trend with a super U17 800m/1,500m double.

She won the 800m in a new record time of 2:15.27 to smash the seven year old record of Louise Shanahan who clocked 2:18.20. She added the 1,500m in a time of 4:58.01.

Another record fell in the girls U16 shot with Kotryna Pacerinskaite of Fanahan McSweeney winning with a throw of 13.70m to break Ciara Sheehy’s 2017 record of 13.42.

The final record came from Lauren McCourt of Bandon who won the U19 200m in 25.31 to break Aisling Maunsell’s 2002 record of 25.53.

The long jump competitions saw good wins by Hannah Falvey of Belgooly who won the U15 with 5.26m, Katie O’Regan of Riverstick Kinsale U16 with 5.13m, James Ezeonu of Leevale U18 with 6.20m, Adam Turner of Belgooly U19 with 6.44m, Danny Kelly of Belgooly U17 with 6.01m and Ryan Onoh of Leevale U13 with 4.66m.

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