National Track & Field Day 1 Provides Deluges of Excitement

June 29, 2024

By Perri Williams

In absolutely atrocious weather conditions the first day of the National Track and Field got underway today with a new championship record for Sarah Lavin (Emerald AC) in the 100m hurdles and victory for Phil Healy (Bandon AC) and Mark Smyth (Raheny) in the ladies and men's 200m. Joe Burke (Templemore AC) secured the u18 European qualifying standard in the 200m in both the heat and the final.

This weekend marks the final opportunity for athletes to achieve an Olympic qualification time or quota spot. A juggle between championship racing and perfect pacing. It wasn’t the most ideal of conditions as incessant rain made events such as hurdles, sprints, javelin and high jump not only challenging but also dangerous. Despite these conditions and as expected Sarah Lavin (Emerald AC) defended her 100m hurdles title, recording an impressive 12.79, which is a new championship record. Behind her a welcome return to national hurdles finals, Molly Scott (St Laurence O’Toole) posted a time of 13.64 not too far off her personal best of 13.59. The ladies may have run unscathed by the conditions. However, the same could not be said for the men. After Matthew Behan (Crusaders) left a wake of hurdles behind him, knocking each and every one, the race was left to Adam Nolan (St Laurence O’Toole) who had the edge over Gerard O’Donnell (Carrick-on-Shannon). Nolan crashed the final hurdles and with the sheer volume of water lodged on the track, planed about eight meters across the finish line, to finish second.

Phil Healy (Bandon AC) was a clear winner of the 20m in a time of 23.42. A clock error, momentarily causing her to believe she had succeeded in surpassing the 23.2 she needed to be within the quota. Mark Smyth (Raheny Shamrocks) like Healy had a convincing win, recording 20.70 – a season’s best performance. However, it was sixteen-year-old Joe Burke (Templemore AC) whose superb run in the heats had spectators applauding. Burke recorded a time of 21.42 to not only equal Marcus Lawlor’s u18 National record but also dip under the European u18 standard. He subsequently finished 5th in the final, also within that same standard.

European race-walking participant Oisin Lane (Mullingar Harriers) recorded a new personal best in the 10,000m of 40.25.99. Later in the morning it was the turn of Kate Veale as she left no doubt as to her supremacy in the ladies race-wa70lking event. Veale triumphed with her ninth championship win.

The men’s 5,000m A race ended in a thrilling finish as long time leader Efram Gidey (Clonliffe Harriers) was passed by Brian Fay (Raheny Shamrocks) with 400m to go. Fay powered down the back straight like a 1,500m runner putting nine seconds between himself and Gidey, to finish in 13.43 for a comfortable win to defend his title and retain the Tom O’Riordain Cup. Cormac Dalton (Mullingar Harriers) took the bronze.

Turning to the field events, Saragh Buggy (St Abbans AC) won her twelfth national triple jump title as she circumvented the pouring rain to hop, step and jump her way to triple jump victory. The javelin throwers had to contend with constant surface water as officials did their best to keep it at bay. Kate O’Connor (Dundalk St Gerards) as expected took the ladies javelin title with a throw of 48.73, opting to forgo her final three throws due to the worsening conditions. It was a similar story for the men’s javelin as the powerful throwers had to contend with a series of slippery final steps as they did their best to remain behind the final line. Oisin Joyce (Lake District AC) retained his javelin title with a throw of 59.57. The world u20 number six balancing speed and stability the best he could.

Eric Favors (Raheny Shamrocks) won the shot putt as expected with a series of eighteen meter plus throws. James Kelly (Finn Valley) took silver, with Callum Keating (North Cork) snatching the bronze from Andrew Cooper (Gowran) with his final throw. There was some consolation for Cooper as he went on to win the u20 weight for height in a new championship record. Ciara Sheehy (Emerald) only managed two legal throws but her fifth round throw of 14.20m was enough to take victory over Kate O’Connor, whose best throw came from the final round.

Sixteen-year-old Connor Penny (Craughwell) tried to do yet another personal best as he almost had 2.10m within this grasp in the high jump. He had to settle for silver in his first senior track and field medal. The event was won by David Cussan (Old Abbey). Sommer Lecky (Finn Valley) retained her title to win the ladies high jump.

Qualifiers through to tomorrow finals include Sarah Healy (UCD) who had a significant victory in the first heat of the 800m. She will meet Louise Shanahan (Leevale) in the final. The men’s 800m qualifiers include Olympic qualifier Mark English. Dara O’Donoghue (Lucan) will be one to watch in the final.

Another exciting race for tomorrow will be the ladies and men’s 400m. Sophie Becker (Raheny Shamrocks) was a comfortable winner in her heat clocking 53.56. She will meet fellow European Championship team members, Kelly McGrory (Tir Chonnaill) and Lauren Cadden (Sligo) in the final. Joining them will be Cliodhna Manning (KCH) and Rachel McCann (North Down) for will be a much-anticipated event. The men’s 400m final tomorrow will also have an impressive line up as Chris O’Donnell (North Sligo), Callum Baird (Ballymena & Antrim), Cillian Green (GCH) and Jack Raftery (Donore Harriers) are set to race for gold.

Thomas Barr (Ferrybank) will have his final opportunity to seek that Olympic qualification as he is through to the 400m Hurdles final. He will be joined by Ethan and Fintan Dewhrist (Tir Chonnaill).

Sophie O’Sullivan (Ballymore/Cobh), Georgie Hartigan (DSD) and Ellie Hartnett (UCD) are all through to the final of the ladies 1500m as is DSD’s Amy O’Donohue. The men’s 1500m will be an exciting affair tomorrow with Luke McCann (UCD) and Cathal Doyle (Clonliffe) both vying for the title. They will be joined by Darragh McIlhenny (Bandon) who is racing a shorter distance than normal.

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