WINNING a national title is always a noteworthy achievement and such a performance has seen Sinead O’Connor awarded the Cork City Sports Athlete of the Month for April.
The national 10km championship took place in the Phoenix Park on April 9 in conjunction with the Great Ireland Run and saw the Leevale athlete come home first in a time of 34:20 to claim her first national individual title.
At the halfway mark around the undulating Phoenix Park, O’Connor had opened up a gap on Wexford athlete Ciara Wilson.
Maintaining her pace up the home straight, she crossed the line with some 23 seconds to spare over the 2020 national indoor 3000m champion. Laura McDonnell of Rathfarnham WSAF was well back in third to take the bronze media in a time of 35:29.
Speaking at the function in the River Lee hotel, O’Connor said she was thrilled to win what was her first national title: “I’ve won plenty of medals with Leevale in team events including a couple of national titles but this was my first individual one so I’m really delighted.
“The race went well, it was quite a fast start so I felt really good and took it mile by mile so I was surprised by the time considering the Phoenix Park has a hilly back-end to the course.
"Maybe it wasn’t the most competitive of fields, but it was still great to win.”
O’Connor followed up her Dublin success with another fine run in the capital at the Women’s Mini-Marathon on the Bank Holiday weekend where over the same 10km distance she finished sixth in a competitive field, achieving another PB with her time of 33:56.
She now turns her attention to the track with the 5000m at the Irish Life Health/National Championships on the last weekend of June the next aim.
Sinead is married to North Cork athlete Michael Herlihy, winner of the Cork City Marathon back in 2009, and they have a one-year-old baby, Matthew.
With less than a month to go to the BAM Cork City Sports which take place for the 69th occasion at the MTU Stadium at Bishopstown on July 5, there was good news at the recent launch when it was announced that this year it will be a World Athletics Continental Tour (WACT) Bronze meeting.
This means that athletes will receive higher ranking points towards qualification for major championships.
As it also falls within the qualification window for the European Championships in Munich the following month it offers athletes the opportunity for achieving qualification standards.
Already confirmed for the meeting is two-time Olympic Champion and three times World Champion over 800m, Caster Semenya.
The South African will compete in the 3000m, looking to impress ahead of the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
However, there will be much local interest in the appearance of Louise Shanahan of Leevale who has already this season set a new Irish record in the 800m, Bandon’s Phil Healy – always a great favourite in front of the home crowd – and Darragh McElhinney who will aim to break the 17-year-old meeting record in the 3000m of 7:38.15 held by Australian Craig Mottram.
Glengarriff-native McElhinney recently set an Irish U23 record for the 5000m of 13:17.17, breaking John Treacy’s previous best of 13:26.5 from way back in 1978.
More importantly, it moved the 21-year-old to seventh on the Irish all-time list and ahead of such distance legends as Eamonn Coghlan, Ray Flynn and Marcus O’Sullivan.
The Cork City Sports Athletics Person of the Month Award is sponsored by the River Lee, 96&C103FM, The Echo, Cork Crystal and Leisureworld.