IN spite of all the restrictions on training and competition, the Irish Life Health National Juvenile Track and Field Championships were brought to a successful conclusion at the Tullamore Harriers Stadium.
The hundreds of young athletes who competed can be well pleased that their competitive lives are fast returning to normal and they responded with performances that were, in many cases, superb.
For several years, Eamon Flanagan has excelled at coaching, especially pole vault, and his athletes have benefited tremendously from his expertise. On Saturday, two of his athletes added U18 titles to their ever-growing list of achievements.
So far this season, Una Brice and Conor Callanan of Leevale have been simply going higher and higher and have ended the season with both setting new Irish youths pole vault records.
Callanan also became the youngest ever winner of an Irish senior outdoor national title when he won the pole vault at the Irish Life health national championships held in Morton Stadium at the end of June.
On Saturday, Callanan won the U18 title with a clearance of 4.42m, and Brice won the girls U18 title with a clearance of 3.50m.
For good measure, clubmates Joshua Fitzgerald and Dannan Long finished 1-2 in the U17 pole vault with clearances of 3.30m and 2.85m, while Alex Neff won the U15 title with 2.70m from clubmate Diarmuid Bannon with 2.55m.
And there was a Youghal 1-2 in the U16 pole vault won by Poppi Deveraux with 2.55m, the same height as Sorca Kilgannon in second and Lucie Healy of Leevale third.
Nicola Tuthill of Bandon won the U19 hammer a throw of 60.08m, confirming her position of one of Ireland’s most promising juniors.
Another promising junior, Aoife O’Sullivan of Liscarroll, easily won the U19 high jump with a clearance of 1.70m.
Lucy May Sleeman of Leevale was in top form to win three titles in the U18 age group, 100m in 12.47, 200m in 25.34 and 100m hurdles in 14.49.
In the same age group, Maeve O’Neill of Doneny’s recorded an impressive double, winning the 800m in 2:07.77 and 400m in 55.87.
Leevale sprinter James Ezeonu was another in double-winning form, taking the 200m in 22.01 and the 110m hurdles in a new championships best time of 14.20, and was also a close second in the 100m in 11.12.
Carraig na bhFear had a fine U19 long jump double, with Harry Buckley winning the boys title with 6.44m, and Blessing Alamu winning the girls title with 5.48m. She also won the discus with a throw of 32.20m.
The U17 age group saw Max O’Reilly of Belgooly win the long jump with 6.07m, and he also finished second in the 100m hurdles in 14.17 behind winner Sean Carmody of Leevale in 14.13.
Jane Buckley of Leevale finished well clear of her rivals to win the U19 3000m in 10:11.39, but had to settle for a close second in the 1,500m in 4:40.29.
Okwu Backari of Leevale won three U16 golds, taking the 80m hurdles in 11.92, 250m hurdles in 36.26 and long jump with 5.46m.
One athlete who should be more than pleased with his weekend performance is Shane Howard of Bandon. He travelled to La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland for the Resisprint International on Saturday to compete in the long jump.
It wasn’t a good start to the competition when he fouled his first round jump. However, he more than made up for it when he jumped 7.70m in the second round, but the wind was over the legal limit at 2.1 m/s. Then, in the third round his jump was measured at 7.71m, and the wind this time was legal at 1.1 m/s. He fouled again in the fourth round before ending the competition with jumps of 7.54m and 7.40m to finish third.
This was a superb new PB for him to improve on the 7.53m he jumped indoors in January 2017. His new mark moves him to number 4 on the Irish All-Time list.
Tokyo Olympian Louise Shanahan of Leevale was in action at the British Milers Club meet in Eltham, London on Saturday where she finished second in the 1,500m in 4:14.43, just outside her best time of 4:15.27.
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