The Leinster Athletics Track & Field championships drew to a close on Sunday evening last, and what a weekend it was for Laois Athletes.
The Leinster Championships run over a number of weekends, from early May, and offer competition in the following categories;
Junior Senior and Masters Individual Events; Juvenile Pairs Events, for U-9 to U-11 – where athletes from the same club compete as a pair; Juvenile Team Events, U-11 to U-14 – where a team of 4 from a club do a range of events; and Pentahlon, for Juvenile, Junior and Senior – where athletes do 5 or more events
Last weekend the U-12 to U-19 athletes competed in their individual events, across the full range of Sprints, Hurdles, Jumps, Throws, and Middle Distance.
Saturday morning commenced with the sprint hurdles. Canice Whearty, Oughaval AC, was disgusted with his false start and disqualification in the hurdles, but he was seriously motivated then for the U-17 400m, where he broke 55 secs and claimed the silver medal. Emmanuel Haastrup, St Michaels AC was just a few steps behind, claiming bronze.
In the U-18 400m, Tom Buggy, St. Abbans AC ran a good race and was just outside the medals in 5th. In the U-19 400m, Shane Bowe, Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District also finished 5th, a great achievement for a lad who normally races over 3k and 5k. A winters 400m training would see him close in on the 50 seconds time.
The Daly twins from Emo Rath AC, Elaine and Aoife, were only 0.03 seconds apart in the U-19 100m, with Elaine taking the bronze medal.
John Ikpotoken, St Michael’s AC was an impressive winner of the U-14 200m, in 25.72 secs.
His sister Helen won the U-16 200m in 26.2, with Grainne Lawlor Rosenallis Kilcavan AC finish 4th, 0.04 secs off bronze.
Daniel Ayodegi, Mountmellick AC reached the final of the U18 100m, a brilliant achievement for him.
Matthew Buggy, Oughaval AC, finished 3rd in the U15 Sprint Hurdles – winning his first Leinster T&F Medal.
John Hughes, Rosenallis Kilcavan AC was just outside the medals in the U-16 Hurdles. Gillian Keenan, Emo Rath was a very impressive winner in the U-19 Sprint Hurdles.
In the U-12 Hurdles, Patience Chinda, St Michaels AC was just outside the medals, in 4th place. Cian McDonald Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District AC, was a clear winner of the U-19 3,000m
Cara Maher St Abbans AC was 4th in the U-18 800m, just .05 secs off bronze.
Cathal Connaughton, Oughaval AC was an impressive winner of the U-18 800m, making him a double Leinster Champion, as he also won the Leinster Indoors 800m in February.
Adam Holden, Mountmellick AC ran a brilliant 800m, to finish in Bronze Medal position in the U-19 800m
Laois was well represented in the Girls U-14 1500m, with Faye McEvoy Ballyroan Abbeyleix, Amy Hyland Rosenallis Kilcavan and Poppy Hackett St Michael’s all running. They found the pace a little bit fast and finished outside the medals.
In the Boys U-14 1500m Jack Fenlon St Abbans AC put in a blistering last lap to sneak into the Bronze Medal position.
In the Boys U-16 1500m, Ronan Hyland Rosenallis Kilcavan AC found the early pace a bit fast, but finished well up the field.
In the U-15 Long Jump, Odhran Dunphy Rosenallis Kilcavan AC and Matthew Buggy Oughaval AC both competed very well, but were not in the medals.
Seoige English, St Abbans AC jumped well in the U-15 High Jump, but finished outside the podium positions.
Eoin Keenan Emo Rath AC won the first of his gold medals of the weekend, with a fine personal best jump in the U-19 Triple Jump.
He then went on to also win the U-19 High Jump, keeping up the good Laois performances in High Jump in recent years.
Luke Buggy Oughaval AC finished a fine 5th in the U-14 Shot Putt, and a good winter of training will have him on the podium next year.
Ger Kelly St Abbans AC was an impressive winner in the U-19 Hammer, and this may be his 4th gold in a row at this event.
Shane Buggy St Abbans AC won Bronze in the U-15 Shot Putt, with a fine putt of 12.13.
Eadoin Coady, St Abbans AC won the U16 hammer with a massive throw of 40.17m while Shane Buggy St Abbans AC won the Silver Medal in the U-15 Javelin, with a throw of 33.27.
Ben Holden, Mountmellick AC won Bronze in the U-16 javelin, with a throw of 32.32m.
Sunday’s competition had fewer Laois Competitiors, but those that did certainly did not disappoint.
The day started with the Long Hurdles – think Thomas Barr when describing the Long Hurdles, and Derval O’Rourke for Sprint Hurdles.
Helen Ikpotoken St Michaels AC got the Laois performances off to a great start, winning gold in the U16 250m Hurdles.
Canice Whearty Oughaval AC soon followed that with Bronze in the U-17 300m hurdles.
Moving on to Sprints, John Ikpotoken St Michaels qualified for the final of U14 100m, where he finished 2nd in a fast race. His sister Helen followed up with Bronze in the U-16 100m.
In the throws events, EllaCindy Banko-Johnson St Michaels AC won bronze in the U-16 Shot Putt. Sarah Graham St Abbans AC was first in the U-17 Discus, and followed up with 4th in the Triple Jump. Her sister Niamh was just outside the medals in both U-14 Shot and U-14 Javelin.
Hollie Brennan was also a strong competitor in the U-15 Shot Putt, 800m and Javelin, narrowly missing out on a medal.
Gerard Kelly followed up on his U-19 success on Saturday, by winning the Junior Hammer.
Wojceich Suchdolski continues his great run of form, by winning the silver medal in the U-18 Javelin.
Moving back to the track, Adam Holden Mountmellick AC was an impressive winner in the U-19 Steeplechase.
His clubmate Curtis Lee won bronze in the U-18 steeplechase – he is one to watch for the coming cross country season.
Oisin Jago Oughaval AC ran a great heat in the U-16 800m, easily qualifying for the final. However a tummy bug prevented him for repeating the performance in the final.
The 1500m brings great excitement to the track, and Laois athletes did not disappoint. Cathal Connaughton Oughaval AC continues his good form, taking silver in the U-18 – the same result as the indoors.
It was great to see Cian Kelly St Abbans AC back from a long layoff. In the U-19 1500m he looked just about safe from Bronze with a lap to go. The sound of the bell must have signalled “action” and an incredible last lap saw him move into 2nd, and had the race been 2m longer he would have been champion.
So all in all, a fantastic weekend for all concerned!