All year — throughout the indoor championships — no more than 100th of a second has separated the Leevale clubmates and in one event they actually dead heated. Coached by former Leevale international hurdler, Seamus Power, who was also responsible for Derval O’Rourke’s technical training during her early days, they have both developed into stylish hurdlers.
With the KitKat Irish Schools championships scheduled for Tullamore in two weeks’, all the stars will be out in force. The improving Christopher Russell (Waterpark College) defends his senior boys 100m and 200m titles.
Niamh Whelan (Presentation, Waterford), this year’s Irish Examiner Junior Sports Star Award winner for athletics, is another who gets better with every outing. This season she added her name to the 100m entry list when winning that event at the Munster junior and U23 championships at the CIT track in Cork.
The same day Bandon girl, Joan Healy (Coláiste na Toirbhirte), became the youngest Irish athlete to qualify for the world juniors when finishing in second position and she will be favourite for an intermediate sprint double in Limerick.
Ronan Duggan (St Brogan’s, Bandon) goes into the championships after back-to-back victories over junior international, Craig Murphy (Douglas CS), in the senior boys’ 800m and 1,500m at the South Munsters and will be looking for a repeat. Niall Thuohy is still sidelined with injury and is likely to miss the whole season.
Shane Quinn (DLS, Waterford) and Ryan Creech (Glanmire CC), two of the country’s brightest prospects, are both back from injury but are unlikely to cross paths tomorrow. The Waterford boy will compete in the intermediate boys’ 1,500m while Creech will be favourite to win the 3,000m. Kalyn Sheehan (Ursuline, Waterford) is another recent qualifier for the world junior championships and appears set to dominate the senior girls’ hurdles.
Another long jump epic between David Quilligan (Patrician Academy, Mallow) and champion Timmy Harrington won’t take place in the immediate future as Harrington sustained a broken collarbone in a traffic accident. Both had been battling it out around the 6.90m mark recently with seven metres looking like just a formality.
Dayle Kennedy (Abbey CC) in the senior boys’ shot and discus, Sarah Bradfield (Bandon Grammar) and Claire Fitzgerald (Presentation, Tralee) in the intermediate girls’ shot and discus are ones to watch in the throws.