Pessimism may be a tempting and often appropriate outlook when it comes to Irish athletics these days, but in Tullamore on Saturday, even the most cynical of souls couldn’t but be swayed: the future remains bright.
On the centenary edition of the GloHealth All Ireland Schools Track and Field Championships, it was the teenage trio of Sharlene Mawdsley, Michaela Walsh and Ciara Neville who shone brightest, their feats reminding us that despite the outlook for Rio 2016 looking decidedly grim, there remains a world of hope for Tokyo 2020.
On the track, Mawdsley was the standout performer, the Newport student unleashing a pair of record-breaking runs to take the sprint double at senior level.
First up was the 100m, in which she annihilated the field and broke Phil Healy’s record of 11.83 with her run of 11.80.
A couple of hours later, she was back on track for the 200m, and once again looked imperious when powering to victory in 23.62 in virtually still conditions, smashing Healy’s time of 23.98.
“I didn’t think I’d get the two records today,” said Mawdsley. “I’m delighted.”
While Mawdsley proved the speed queen of the day, the princess of power was Michaela Walsh, who smashed two records in the senior girls’ shot put and hammer.
The Swinford student has quietly been proving herself as a future international-calibre thrower for a number of years, and she confirmed that on Saturday, launching the hammer out to 56.90m before returning to hurl the shot 14.91m, the latter a national junior record.
“The shot had been going really well this year so I’m happy with that,” said Walsh.
“I was very surprised at the hammer, because it wasn’t really going well, but it just came out today.”
Walsh will next compete at the English Championships next week before turning her attention to the IAAF World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in July.
The athlete to leave Tullamore with the biggest medal haul was once again Ciara Neville, who struck gold in the intermediate 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay for the second year in a row.
The 16-year- old clocked 11.86 to win the 100m, 24.67 in the 200m, then came late – very late – to anchor Castletroy College to victory in the 4x100m relay by just a hundredth of a second ahead of Scoil Mhuire, Carrick on Suir.
“I took the baton and just ran for my life,” said Neville.
“When I crossed the line, I had no idea who won. It was only a couple of minutes until we found out but it felt like an hour.” Aaron Sexton of Bangor Grammar also took a sprint double at intermediate level, winning the 100m in 10.86 and the 200m in 21.85.
In the junior girls’ discus Megan Lenihan of Hazelwood College Dromcollogher bettered Marita Walton’s 41-year- old record with 39.56m.
Belfast’s Ellie McCartney also set an intermediate girls’ pole vault record of 3.60m.
In the middle distances, Jack O’Leary led all the way to win the senior boys’ 5000m in 14:54:65.
“I knew it was going to be tough so in the middle of the race I slowed down the pace, took it easy and tried to have a big last two laps,” he said.
“I knew I was the fastest 1500 man in the race, that I was the one with the kick, so I said I’d wait until the last lap then give it a blast.”
However the best kick of the day came in the senior boys’ 1500m, with Navan’s Kevin McGrath blasting away from the field with 300m to run after a slow early pace.
“After the first lap I was like:‘there’s nothing more they can do now, once I kick, I’m gone, they won’t catch me,’” he said.
“I was nervous, because the fact is I’ve never lost an All-Ireland schools.”
Elsewhere over the weekend, Marcus Lawler equalled his personal best of 20.74 for 200m in Salamanca, Spain, while in Oordegem, Belgium, Craig Lynch impressed with a personal best of 47.07 for 400m.
Sinéad Denny secured a B-standard for the European Championships over 400m by running 53.26, while Phil Healy also broke new ground, running a personal best of 53.58.
Chisom Ugwueru, St Flannan's Ennis, 11.89;
Nikolka Stevankova, Laurel Hill SS Limerick, 12.19;
Ailbhe Doherty, St Flannan's Ennis, 2:18.18;
St Vincent's Dundalk 51.82.
Jennifer Hanrahan, Our Lady's School Dublin, 5.33m;
Aoibhin McMahon, St Vincent's Dundalk, 12.73m;
Patience Jumbo Gula, St Vincent's Dundalk, 12.28;
Patience Jumbo Gula, St Vincent's Dundalk, 25.35;
Daniella Jansen, St Columba's Stranolar, 2:19.00;
: Saoirse O'Brien, SH Westport, 4:41.99;
Holly Mulholland, Lismore Comp Craigavon, 11.36;
Wesley College Dublin 51.90.
Ciara Kennelly, St Brigids Killarney, 1.65m;
Ella Duane, Cross & Passion Kilcullen, 2.65m;
Lauren O'Leary, Nagle Rice Doneraile, 5.49m;
Harriet Platt, Strathearn School, 9.96m;
Ciara Sheehy, St Marys Charleville, 13.12m;
Megan Lenihan, Hazelwood Col. Dromcollogher, 39.56m;
Shauna Linehan, Colaiste Treasa Kanturk, 41.47m;
Megan Lenihan, Hazelwood Col. Dromcollogher, 40.60m;
Siofra O'Dea, St Joseph's Spanish Point, 5:37.21;
Ciara Neville, Castletroy College, 11.86;
Ciara Neville, Castletroy College, 24.67;
Lauren Cadden, Ursuline Sligo, 40.05;
Davicia Patterson, Hunterhouse Belfast, 2:15.06;
Claire Rafter, Ursuline Thurles, 5:04.54;
Amy-Rose Farrell, Mount Anville Dublin, 10:15.99;
Miriam Daly, Scoil Mhuire Carrick on Suir, 11.70;
Miriam Daly, Scoil Mhuire Carrick on Suir, 42.80;
Laura Nicholson, Bandon Grammar School, 5:12.18.
Castletroy College 48.87;
Sommer Lecky, Strabane Academy, 1.78m;
Ellie McCartney, Belfast HS, 3.60m;
Kate O'Connor, St Vincent's Dundalk, 5.68m;
Kate Taylor, Coláiste Muire Ennis, 11.33m;
Marguerite Furlong, St Mary’s New Ross, 11.37m;
Marguerite Furlong, St Mary’s New Ross, 33.15m;
Jade Williams, Bailieborough CS, 59.09m;
Kate O'Connor, St Vincent's Dundalk, 40.78m;
Niamh O'Connor, St Wolstan’s Celbridge, 9:05.26;
Sharlene Mawdsley, St Mary's Newport, 11.80;
Sharlene Mawdsley, St Mary's Newport, 23.62;
Molly O'Reilly, Loreto Dalkey, 56.00;
Amy NíhAmaill, Colaiste Oiriall Monaghan, 2:14.66;
Nadia Power, St Mac Dara’s Dublin, 4:44.46;
Aisling Joyce, Yeats College Galway, 10:00.23;
Megan Marrs, Strathearn School, 13.78;
Arlene Crossan, Loreto College Letterkenny, 60.87;
Eimear Fitzpatrick, Our Lady’s Terenure, 5:03.86;
Glenlola Collegiate 50.06;
Phoebe Tan, Methodist Col Belfast, 1.66m;
Laura Cussen, Colaiste Choilm Ballincollig, 3.00m;
Tara Jenkins, Sion Hill Dublin, 5.29m;
Lydia Mills, Ballyclare High, 11.39m;
Michaela Walsh, SM&P Swinford, 14.91m;
Niamh Fogarty, St Joseph's Rush, 42.72m;
Michaea Walsh, SM&P Swinford, 56.90m;
Orlaith O'Brien, Yeats College Waterford, 40.22m;
Orla Delahunt, Ursuline Sligo, 16:11.04;
Sarah Healy, Holy Child Killiney, 5:03.57.
Mervin Shalamba, Mercy Mount Hawk Tralee, 11.44;
Jakob Swann, Bangor Grammar, 2:09.11;
Iarlaith Golden, St Colemans Claremorris, 11.56;
Mercy Mount Hawk Tralee 48.14;
Michael Farrelly, St Fintans Sutton, 5.98m;
Adam Sheridan, Rice College Westport, 13.61m;
Conor Crowe, St Patrick’s Keady, 11.58;
Nelvin Appiah, Moyne CS Longford, 23.53;
Louis O'Loughlin, Moyle Park Dublin, 2:00.78;
Ben Jones, Pres Bray, 4:16.15;
Ethan Williamson, Clounagh HS, 11.63;
Mercy Mount Hawk Tralee 46.15;
Lucas Moylan, Patrician Newbridge, 1.88m;
Adam O'Dwyer, Thurles CBS, 3.10m;
Sean Carolan, St Mary's Newport;
Ethan Williamson, Clounagh HS, 11.77m;
David Siegel, Tralee CBS, 13.56m;
Chris Cosgrave, St Michaels Dublin, 39.97m;
Robert Higgins, St Mary's Edenderry, 49.01m;
Josh Hewitt, Rockwell College & Seán Carolan, St Mary's Newport, 45.77m;
Oisin Lane, Mercy Ballymahon, 5:48.14;
Aaron Sexton, Bangor Grammar, 10.86;
Aaron Sexton, Bangor Grammar, 21.85;
Tony Odubote, Rice College Ennis, 49.99;
Niall Harvey, Pres Carlow, 1:56.56;
Rory Lodge, St Kieran’s Kilkenny, 4:43.68;
Cian Kelly, Knockbeg College Carlow, 9:15.78;
Alex Clarkin, Castleknock CC, 13.24;
Tony O'Connor, Naas CBS, 56.78;
Ruarcan O'Gibne, Col Lú Dundalk, 4:36.60;
St Flannan's Ennis DNS;
Ryan Carty-Walsh, Good Counsel Wexford, 2.00m;
Shane Martin, Belfast RA, 4.00m;
Joseph Miniter, CBS Ennistymon, 6.54m;
Brendan Lynch, St Brigids Col Loughrea, 13.17m;
James Kelly, Royal & Prior Raphoe, 16.12m;
Darragh Gaffney, St Finians Mullingar, 48.29m;
Brendan O'Donnell, St Eunan's Letterkenny, 64.66m;
Liam Connaughton, St Mary's Drogheda, 55.10m;
Adam McInerney, Patrician Newbridge, 10:00.04;
Sean Lawlor, Kylemore College Dublin, 10.80;
Cillian Greene, Presentation Athenry, 21.59;
Christopher O'Donnell, Magh Ene College Bundoran, 48.07;
Gary Campbell, St Mary's Dundalk, 1:54.87;
Kevin McGrath, St Pats Navan, 3:58.68;
Jack O’Leary, Clongowes College Kildare, 14:54.65;
Jack Murphy, CBC Cork, 14.98;
Cathal Locke, Crescent College Comp SJ, 54.55;
Tadhg McGinty, SM&P Swinford, 6:08.45;
: Bandon Grammar School 42.71;
Dion Ryan, Watepark College Waterford, 2.00m;
Yuri Kanash, St Augustines Dungarvan, 4.40m;
Ian Brennan, St Columba's Stranolar, 6.75m;
Jordan Hoang, Col Choilm Tullamore, 14.35m;
Anu Awonusi, Kilkenny College, 16.19m;
Eoin Sheridan, CBS Mullingar, 48.60m;
Stephen McCorry, Belfast RA, 52.68m;
Shane Joyce, Ashbourne CS Meath, 56.92m;
Anthony Tobin, High School Clonmel, 13:37.64;
Darragh McElhinney, Colaiste Pobail Bantry, 4:33.35.
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