Finn Valley AC Lights Up The 2024 National Senior Championships

July 02, 2024

The 2024 National Senior Track and Field Championships held last weekend will be regarded as a most successful outing for the Finn Valley contingent that participated. The standout performance was that of Mark English who came through the heats of the 800m on Saturday with ease, and indeed raced to victory on Sunday in a really relaxed manner. 

Mark English Secures Ninth 800m Title

Mark was chasing an amazing 9th individual senior title outdoors having previously also recorded 9 individual senior individual victories indoor over 800m. Without any question, he was in a space of his own winning the 800m and indeed it was probably one of his easiest victories ever. So a job well done as he now will take in a few races before going to the start line in just over 3 weeks in Paris. His goal this year was Olympic qualification and to break the Irish record at 800m, which he duly did, and we wish him well with his final preparation.

High Jump and Long Jump Highlights: Sommer Lecky and Lauren Callaghan

An athlete no stranger to success at National Senior level, Sommer Lecky, who over the years has consistently medalled since she was 17yrs of age and despite a strong injury challenge she once again persevered to take the high jump title at 1.76m. Sommer has consistently been Ireland’s No. 1 high jump athlete for many many years and the Castlederg girl has maintained a long association with athletics since first introduced to the sport at the local Finn valley area primary schools sports when she was 7 years old, winning the 60m.

Lauren Callaghan from Killygordon has just completed her period of study at DCU and despite many injury challenges over the years, she has bounced back. Indeed, last Sunday was an absolute joy as she chased the senior title in the long jump, just missing out by 1cm. She set a new Donegal jump record of 6.15 in an event where she can look back at a very positive series of jumps, having hit 6.14 on two occasions previously. This distance was marked down as a new Donegal best performance, and one could add this performance to her best indoors from 2023 which was 6.24m.

Medals and Records: James Kelly, Joseph Gillespie, and Roisin Flanaghan

James Kelly from St Johnston also is no stranger to winning medals at National Championship level since he was a young boy and returned to Donegal on Saturday evening with a silver medal in the shot putt. We missed the presence of his older brother John on this occasion but look forward to both the Kelly lads challenging for medals as a team in these championships next season. John is currently training to return to competition in Sweden and progressing after a long period of injury. Indeed John Kelly is one of the very few Donegal athletes that has ever qualified for a World Championships, competing in recent years in Portland in the USA at the World Championships.

A medal also on Saturday, his first ever national senior medal, was claimed by Joseph Gillespie in round 1 in the triple jump, going out to 13.94m to nail a silver medal and get his season underway. He will no doubt have ambitions to jump beyond 14m this incoming weekend in the National League in the triple jump. Joseph began his athletics in the local primary schools, representing Sessiaghoneill National School and was a winner of the John Carlin award at their school championships.

Roisin Flanaghan, recently returned from the US, and her sister Eilish, both went to the start line in the 5000m. Eilish unfortunately wasn’t able to continue with what was an ongoing in jury and subsequently dropped out, while Roisin went on to collect the bronze medal in the 5000m. Roisin now has an invitation to compete in the Morton Games and in the Cork City Sports, while Eilish will turn her attention to her injury, to rest and recover with a view to impacting in the winter months.

More Stand Out Achievements and Looking Ahead

Glad to report that Bridget McDyer with a throw of 6.44m finished 5th in the 28lb weight for distance, a new Donegal and Ulster record for the loyal Rosses woman. Also from the Rosses and competing out of Finn Valley Amy Greene, recently crowned National Senior 5k Road Champion finished 4th in the 3000m Steeple Chase. A personal best was achieved by Oisin Thompson in the long jump where he made the cut for the final 8 with a jump of 6.87m, continually closing down on the magical 7m mark. The first Finn Valley athlete of the weekend in action was Janine Boyle who did extremely well on Saturday to come through the heats to qualify for the final of the 200m with a time of 25.02 and later that day, finished 6h in the final with a time of 25.01. Janine was to compete on Sunday in the 100m.

Other Finn Valley athletes in action; Eimear McCarroll 6th 1500m but with only 5 to qualify from the heats she was out of luck. She did return on Sunday to compete in the U20 3k Championship in which she finished 4th. Arlene Crossan just missed out on a final spot in the 400m by 0.03 secs while Ciarán Mc Carroll fared extremely well in the 800m for a 17-year-old, gaining invaluable experience. Other competitors include Oisin Toye (500m) and Dermot Brennan (1500m),

The Ulster Masters Athletics Championships were held at the Mary Peters Track on Saturday and topping the list of achievers was Bosco Reid who returned home with 5 gold medals to include shot, javelin, discus, hammer and weight for distance. Other medallists in Belfast included Garvan Boyce, Noreen Bonner, Gerard Doherty and Gerard Gallagher. Congratulations to all involved.

Looking ahead to this weekend the attention turns to the National League which will be held in Athlone while elsewhere, in Tullamore, Day 1 of the National Juvenile Track and Field Championships takes place

Finally, and as an aside to last weekend’s Senior Championships at Santry, Finn Valley finished 3rd best club in the overall medal tally, just behind Raheny Shamrocks and Leevale, both major city clubs. Congratulations all round and when one threads the link between the success of our athletes at the National Children’s Games, right through to Senior and Masters Championships, club members should be satisfied that they are on the right road and in good company.

Images: Clockwise from top centre - Mark English, Joseph Gillespie (second on podium), James Kelly, Sommer Lecky, and Eimear McCarroll

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