Maeve O'Neill one of the Cork stars at the national junior and U23 track and field championships

Nicola Tuthill of Bandon took the lead in the first round of the junior women’s hammer with 54.58m and had her best effort in the fifth round with 59.74m to win easily.
Maeve O'Neill one of the Cork stars at the national junior and U23 track and field championships

At the River Lee Hotel for the Cork City Sports Athletics Awards for September Nicola Tuthill, (Bandon AC ) Picture. M. Collins.

APART from athletes and officials, Morton Stadium in Santry was deserted for the two day Irish Life health national junior and U23 track and field championships over the weekend.

There was an eerie silence throughout the meet, and none more than so during the first event of the day on Saturday, the women’s junior 800m.

Here, Maeve O’Neill of Doheny’s took over the lead just before halfway and then extended it all the way to the finish to win comfortably in 2:10.73. 

There was no PA in operation during this race making it even quieter still!

She was back on track on Sunday for the 400m, winning her heat in 58.88, and then had a good final to finish a close second in 57.15.

Leevale’s junior pole vaulters were in great form. 

In the women’s event Una Brice cleared 3.00m and 3.15m at the first attempt but needed three attempts to clear 3.25m, and then cleared 3.35m at the second attempt to seal victory.

In the men’s vault, Conor Callinan cleared his opening height of 4.00m at the first attempt and then cleared 4.20m and 4.30m at the second attempt to complete a Leevale vault double. 

For good measure, clubmate Joshua Fitzgerald was third with 3.80m.

Fionn Harrington, a member of Bandon AC, who ran the fastest time of 15:07.2 for the 5000m at CIT. Picture: John Walshe
Fionn Harrington, a member of Bandon AC, who ran the fastest time of 15:07.2 for the 5000m at CIT. Picture: John Walshe

Nicola Tuthill of Bandon took the lead in the first round of the junior women’s hammer with 54.58m and had her best effort in the fifth round with 59.74m to win easily.

Aoife O’Sullivan of Liscarroll won the junior women’s high jump with a clearance of 1.75m, but it was a close call as Ciara Kennelly from Killarney cleared the same height, but had to settle for second on count-back.

In the sprints, Conor Morey of Leevale won his heat of the U23 100m in a time of 10.62 and then cruised to victory in the final with a winning time of 10.80.

Clubmate Colin Doyle followed the same route in the U23 200m, winning his heat in 21.71 and was equally impressive winning the final in 21.56.

Bandon’s Lauren McCourt made it three sprint titles for Cork when she won her heat of the junior 200m in 24.21, and followed up by winning the final in 24.45.

Fionn Harrington of Bandon has been in superb form this season and continued that form with a runaway victory in the junior steeplechase in a time of 9:23.83, while Frank O’Brien of Midleton was third in the U13 steeple in 10:08.43.

After a messy race in England a week earlier, Darragh McIlhenny of Bantry and UCD was back in action in Nembro (Bergamo), Italy. Competing in the 3,000m he stayed with the leaders until he lost contact with three laps to go. 

He ran on strongly and overtook one of the breakaway group on the last lap to finish third in a new outdoor PB of 7:52.30, although he has run 7:50.80 indoors last February.

Another athlete chasing a new PB was Diarmuid O’Connor of Bandon who was in Arona, Spain for a decathlon competition. He competed in the junior section and finished an excellent second with a superb total of 7,316 points. 

This total was an agonizing 20 points off the Irish junior record of Barry Walsh set in 1987. O’Connor’s previous best was 6807 from last year.

En route to his big PB, O’Connor won the 400m with a new PB of 49.69, cleared 1.95m for third in the high jump and another PB, and was sixth in the pole vault with another PB of 4.20m.

The American Olympic Trials are underway if Oregon this week, with the first three past the post selected. This year there is particular Irish interest in the Trials as the daughter of one of Cork’s finest athletes takes her place in the 800m. Roisin Willis, daughter of Bandon runner Breda Dennehy has been setting age group records for some time now.

Willis, who will be 17 in August, is from Stevens Point in Wisconsin, and clocked an amazing 2:00.78 last month to qualify for the Trials. 

There is still time for her to declare for Ireland!

The death of Billy Good over the weekend brought to an end a long and distinguished career in athletics. 

Bandon Athletic Club's Billy Good with Irish sprinting star and club member Phil Healy at the Catherine Duggan Memorial Sports in 2018
Bandon Athletic Club's Billy Good with Irish sprinting star and club member Phil Healy at the Catherine Duggan Memorial Sports in 2018

A founding member of Bandon AC, Billy had a successful running career in the sixties and maintained his involvement with his club down through the years.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

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