LAST Saturday the Aviva All Ireland Schools Athletics Championships took place at the Tullamore Harriers stadium with a day of events that ran like clockwork.
It is exceptionally difficult to make it through to the finals of this competition with only two athletes from each of the four provinces allowed to compete in each event and that is why this year has been a truly excellent one as eight Harriers’ athletes made it through to Saturday’s competition.
First to compete was James Mulligan in the Intermediate Shot. James threw 12.73 to take a very well deserved bronze medal, well clear of the next competitor and James is eligible for this age category again next year, when he will probably qualify in more than one throwing event.
David McElligott from Tullamore College, did really well to take fourth in the Senior Javelin, throwing over 46 m with the heavier weight of 800g.
David will also still be eligible to compete in this age group next year. Kelley Cunningham rounded off a great day for the throwers by taking fourth in the Senior Girls Discus with a throw of 29.46, just outside her pb. This is a huge step up for Kelley in the Schools competition and, yet again, she is also eligible at this age group next year.
On the track Paddy Heffernan, Moate CS came eighth in the Boys Intermediate 100 m hurdles. This was a very competitive event with places 3 through 8 coming in very close together. Paddy has been out for six weeks with injury so will look forward to Club competitions later in the season.
Stephen Kelly, a student of Yeat’s College, Galway took part in the Senior Boys 400 metres against very stiff competition. Stephen started well and ran a good first 100, maintaining his position down the back straight but then Joe Dowling from began to pull away. Stephen did not give out and really gave his all over the final 100m to finish in silver position in a time of 49.6.
In the middle to long distance events, Eileen Rafter took bronze in the Junior Girls 800 m. After a very fast start, three girls broke away and they battled it out to the line with Eileen just pipped for the silver medal with a new pb of 2 min 16, which qualifies her to take part in the prestigious AAA competition in England later in the season.
Nicole Cuskelly, Killina SS, came eighth in probably the fastest Junior Girl 1500m for many years. Nicole was pleased with her performance, coming within 1.5 seconds of her pb. She will be looking forward to moving up to the longer distance at Intermediate level next year.
After an opening mile in 4:53 Liam Brady took up the running in the Senior Boy’s 5K with seven laps remaining. He continued until 450m to go before being passed by Ryan McDermott and Jake Byrne. Liam burst into the lead again with 350m to go but had to succumb to the finishing speed of Jake but in the firnal 230 meters. Liam ran a 24 second PB when taking the silver medal in 15:13.04.
Liam is in his final year in school and so we wish him all the best in his Leaving Certificate and in his future athletics. He has been a wonderful ambassador for the sport, his school, his club and for his coach, Robert Denmead.
All eight athletes represented their schools with distinction and should be very proud of their achievements and thanks go to their schools, teachers and club coaches.