THE superb Athlone IT Stadium was the venue for two days of athletics last weekend, with the Irish Life health national junior and U23 championships on Saturday, followed by the second round of the national indoor league on Sunday.
Conor Callanan of Leevale started the new year in the best possible way by adding 10cm to his PB at the first day of the national league with a clearance of 4.10m in the pole vault.
He was back in action on Saturday for the junior championships. He entered the competition with a first time clearance of 3.50m, and followed up with first time clearances over 3.70m and 3.80m, by which time he had the competition won.
He then moved the bar to 4.00m and cleared at the first attempt. He then rounded off the day with a clearance of 4.21m at the third attempt to add 11cm to his previous best.
Clubmate Una Brice was also in top form in the junior women’s pole vault.
She has a best of 3.10m from last year and surpassed that height when she cleared 3.15m at the second attempt. She then cleared 3.25m at the second attempt before clearing 3.35m at the first attempt.
She wasn’t successful over 3.45m, but neither was Anna Ryan of Moycarkey Coolcroo leaving both joint winners of the competition.
There was a clean sweep of medals in the women’s U23 pole vault with Clodagh Walsh of Abbey Striders winning with a jump of 3.15m from Ciara Hickey of Blarney Inniscarra with 3.00m and Una Samuels of Leevale on 2.80m.
The two junior 800m races produced two silver medals for Cork.
Tommy Connolly of Leevale was well placed in second at the bell in the men’s race, but then made a huge mistake when he attempted to overtake the leader on the bend, something that is not advised indoors.
He tried again to overtake, but James Dunne of Tullamore stuck to his task to win in 2:00.68 ahead of Connolly in 2:01.01.
The women’s race saw Maeve O’Neill of Doheny’s stay well off the pace throughout.
She overtook one runner on the last lap to finish second in 2:13.30 behind Ava O’Connor of Tullamore in 2:11.97.
Ryan O’Leary of Leevale set a new PB in the junior men’s 60m when he finished third in the final in 6.97, his first time under seven seconds for the distance.
There were two silver medals for Cork in the women’s high jump, with Aoife O’Sullivan clearing 1.65m for silver in the junior women’s event – the same height as the winner Ciara Kenneally of Killarney, while Hannah Murphy of Leevale was second in the U23 competition with 1.55m.
There were some good solid performances from Leevale athletes at the national league on Sunday, with Annette Quaid easily winning the 1,500m in 4:31.23.
At the end of the two day competition, Leevale men finished fourth behind winners Clonliffe Harriers, while the Leevale women were fifth behind winners Dublin City Harriers.
There were several open events during the league and Phil Healy of Bandon was in action over 200m and 400m. For the past two years she competed in Vienna on this weekend, but the meet was cancelled this year.
She had no real competition in Athlone, but nonetheless was impressive in both races.
The 200m saw he clock 23.28, well inside her previous indoor best of 23.55 she set three years ago, and just outside Ciara Sheehy’s national record of 23.17.
She followed up with a time of 53.13 for the 400m, just outside the qualifying standard for the World indoor championships of 52.90.
Louise Shanahan of Leevale won a ‘mixed’. 1,500m race in Sheffield last week in a time of 4:30.70, while clubmate Luke Horgan won the 800m in 1:58.29 at the McNeese Indoor meet in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Saturday.