THE Kingdom Invitation took place at Tralee Sports Complex recently.
The Cork clubs always enjoy the trip into the Kingdom, where they receive a great Kerry welcome.
On this occasion, the hosts had a very special guest on display, Sam Maguire. There was great banter between the hosts and visiting clubs. However, Sam may have remained in the Kingdom, but the Cork swimmers combined to bring a large haul of medals back across the county bounds.
The first event of the two-day meet saw Cork girls, Roisin Brannigan, Dolphin and Aoife Heavin, Mallow battle it out for bronze in the 400m freestyle. Brannigan clinched third place 5:18.79 with Heavin just behind on 5:18.84. Of note, Liadh Boag, Jessica Zimmerman, Zoe Esaw and Rebecca Reid, all from Mallow, finished in the top 9. Brannigan was the comfortable victor at 400m IM 6:00.66 ahead of clubmate Katie Pederson 6:49.43.
She also led an all-Dolphin podium at 200m backstroke, Brannigan on 2:49.03, Clodagh Martin on 3:05.15 and Jess Merrigan on 3:09.06. Brannigan doubled up with victory at 100m backstroke 1:16.48, ahead of Aimee O’Herlihy, Blackrock 1:23.92 and rounded off her trip to Tralee with three additional victories at 200m freestyle, 100m butterfly and 100m freestyle.
Another all-Dolphin podium came in the senior boys 200m breaststroke. Ryan Ates led the way with 2:36.08 ahead of Aidan McGrath 2:37.17 and Vincent Leahy on 2:41.53. The Blackrock duo of Louis Flynn and Pierce Hanley placed 4th 5th for the Cork honours. Three of those five also claimed the medal positions at 400m IM. On that occasion, it was McGrath in pole position on 5:05.09, Leahy in 2nd with 5:09.67 and Hanley in third with 5:10.61. Billy Anglim and Ciaran Doyle ensured that it was another top five for Cork. McGrath and Leahy also featured on the 200m IM podium with Louis Flynn, Blackrock splitting the Dolphin duo.
Luke Merrigan, Dolphin, on a break from his Athletics schedule, was in outstanding form, claiming five victories from five events. He was the comfortable victor at 200m IM 2:24.78 ahead of clubmate Billy Anglim 2:37.12 in 2nd. He also had plenty to spare at 200m freestyle 2:09.56 with clubmate Tadgh O’Brien in 2nd on that occasion 2:15.40. The pair shared the top two places over the shorter 100m distance with Merrigan on 1:00.36 and O’Brien on 1:01.49. Merrigan posted 1:18.62 for victory at 100m breaststroke ahead of Dylan Gunn, SWSC in 2nd with 1:24.77. His fifth victory came at 200m backstroke 2:22.73.
Anglim topped the 100m backstroke podium 1:16.05 with clubmate Matthew Mahony in 3rd with 1:19.88. Anglim added silver at 100m & 50m butterfly and collected bronze at 50m freestyle. Mahony improved his ranking to 2nd overall at 100m IM 1:17.57. The 100m IM was won by Tadgh O’Brien 1:11.28 with Joshua Riordan, Mallow, completing the podium for Cork with 1:23.64. O’Brien added a second gold at 50m breaststroke 36.64 ahead of Cian O’Sullivan, Blackrock 39.99 and Ben Hickey, Mallow completing another all-Cork podium with 41.80.
Another in great form of the Mayfield club was Elin Manson with four victories and three silver medals. Manson had a real battle on her hands over 100m freestyle but held on to clinch victory 1:07.11 ahead of the chasing Victoria Roche, Mallow on 1:07.12. Roche reversed the placings over 50m, in another close battle touching on 30.64 with Manson in 2nd with 30.87.
Manson had to hold off the two Roche sisters at 100m backstroke to secure victory on 1:16.35. Caroline was in 2nd with 1:17.95 and Victoria had to settle for 3rd with 1:18.59. Manson’s other victories came at 200m IM with Aoife Heavin in 3rd, and at 200m breaststroke. She also placed second at 200m backstroke and 100m breaststroke.
In the junior category, Clodagh Martin, Dolphin claimed three victories. She had six seconds to spare at 200m IM 3:03.22 ahead of clubmate Alison Barry in 2nd. She claimed double gold at 100m breaststroke 1:32.23 ahead of Alannah Mulvihill, Blackrock 1:34.40 and at 50m breaststroke 43.61 with Elle O’Regan, Blackrock in 2nd 45.12 and Laura Garcia Villa, Dolphin completing the podium 45.62.
Lev Lobanets was the star for Blackrock with two victories and two silver medals. He held on at 200m freestyle to win on 2:32.33 ahead of former clubmate Andy Switzer on 2:32.83. His second victory came at 50m backstroke 36.19 with Cian Vaughan, Dolphin in second on that occasion 38.37.