Anti-climax as McCarthy motors to easy victory

THE long awaited clash of David McCarthy (St. Augustine’s, Dungarvan) and John Coghlan (Castleknock) in the senior boys’ 1,500m failed to live up to expectations at the KitKat Irish Schools track and field championships at Tullamore on Saturday.

McCarthy opened with a 57 second first lap, held a 10 metre lead over Coghlan at the 800m mark and went on to stamp his authority on the race — defying the windy conditions — to cross the line in 3:52.27 with Coghlan second in 3:56.00 from Donegal’s Ian Ward (Royal and Prior) in 3:56.54.

It was a courageous performance by the young Waterford athlete who admitted that his defeat by training partner, Niall Tuohy in the Munster championships influenced his preparations.

“Even though Niall took me in the 800m at the Munster schools championships it did not affect my confidence at all,” he said. “But it woke me up. Every year at national level I can just cruise away and sometimes you lose that sharpness. After I was beaten that day in the 800m when I went out to train the next Wednesday night — and every track session afterwards — I felt vicious.

“I know there was a lot of talk about this race. John is running great and all that — he is flying — but, in fairness I am in the best shape of my life.

“Now I am looking for the qualifying standard for the European junior championships. I have Leaving Cert from Wednesday to Wednesday and then I’ll have a week and a half until I go to the junior international in Mannheim. I have decided I am not going to run Cork City Sports because the weather in this country has been shocking.

“Instead I am going to run Watford BMC that weekend because it is a guaranteed race.”

Kelly Proper (St. Paul’s CC, Waterford), the only athlete with a qualifying standard for the European junior championships, continued her progress in the long jump when she retained her senior girls’ title with another massive leap of 6.20 m.

Last year she set the Irish schools record at 6.08.

The only national record that has eluded the Irish Examiner National Junior Sports Star award winner is the senior women’s mark set by Terri Horgan at 6.48m.

“That is definitely my target this year,” she said. “I start my Leaving Cert Examinations next Wednesday so I won’t be competing next weekend. My next competition will be the match with Harvard and Yale in Limerick followed by the European Cup in Finland, Cork City Sports and the junior championships before the European junior championships in Holland.”

It may have been the result of a tactical error, but Curtis Woods from Carrigfergus brought off the shock of the meeting and one of the most unusual doubles recorded at schools level when he beat Shane Quinn in the junior boys’ 800m.

The Downshire schoolboy had won the 200m title half an hour earlier and, after Quinn, uncharacteristically, stayed close to the front of the field throughout the race, he sprinted the final 80 metres to snatch the title which Quinn won last year as a 13-year-old.

But the De La Salle, Waterford schoolboy, who is son of Olympic steeplechaser, Brendan, bounced back to destroy the field in the 1,500m in 4:08.87 breaking the old record which Austin Finn from La Salle, Belfast, set at 4:09.08 in 1991.

Charlotte ffrench-O’Carroll (Loreto, St. Stephen’s Green) knocked nine seconds off the record set by Limerick’s Patricia Logan in 1985 when she won the senior girls’ 3,000m in 9:43.02 before her twin sister, Rebecca, won the 1,500m title.

Niall Tuohy (Newtown School) followed up on his big win in the Munsters by taking the 800m title in 1:53.24 with Anthony Leighio (Drimnagh Castle) second in 1:56.20.

Eoin Hannan (Our Lady’s, Templemore) completed another double in the senior boys’ long jump and 110m hurdles while Polish-born Pavel Hazler (Bishopstown Community School) brought off one of the most impressive doubles of the meeting, adding the hammer title to his prime objective, the discus title, while Linda Cronin (Coláiste Choilm, Ballincollig) produced the performance of her career with a throw of 43.47 metres to claim the senior girls’ hammer title that was won twice previously by her older sister, Ann Marie.

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