All-Ireland Juvenile T&F 2021 – Days 1 & 2 (6th/7th/8th Aug)
High and lows at National Juvenile T&F
At the opening days of the All-Ireland Juvenile T&F finals in Tullamore, there was some medal success for Mullingar, but also some disappointments and low moments, but everyone gave their best and no more can be asked when competing on the National stage. Due to Covid health restrictions, this year’s finals have to be held over an elongated programme of eight sessions over four days. The first session was on Friday evening 6th August and was held in absolutely dreadful wet and windy conditions. Benefitting from all the hard work put in at training over many months under the expert coaching eye of Michael Lane, all the Mullingar race walkers turned in excellent performances. Competing in his first All-Ireland, John Glennon finished well over a minute quicker than when winning the Leinster title but unfortunately it wasn’t quick enough to win an All-Ireland medal and he finished in 4th place in the u/15 boys 2,000m race walk but will have gained valuable experience. Aisling Lane was simply in a different class in the u/17 girls 3,000m race walk and raced well clear to win by a big margin. It was a closer affair for Andrew Glennon in the u/17 boys 3,000m race walk, only pulling clear with 200m to go and fighting hard to keep in front all the way to the finish line to win.
Saturday 7th August started just as wet, windy and miserable, far from ideal conditions for sprinting. Kyle Faherty easily won his heat of the u/15 boys 200m and in the final was well positioned coming off the bend but in a close finish he was very unlucky to finish in 4th place, just missing a medal. In the u/19 boys 200m, Charles Okafor looked very comfortable in his heat, visibly slowing at the finish to still qualify easily for the final. A great start and a terrific bend in the final had Charles right in contention coming into the straight, but a touch of cramp saw him pull up suddenly, putting paid to any medal success in his favoured event, a real low point after such an excellent season that saw him compete at the European under 20 T&F in the 4x100m relay only a few weeks ago.
Thankfully the rain stopped for the u/15 boys 800m, where Jamie Wallace did everything right, was tactically very aware and kept with the leading group through the bell. Perfectly positioned to cover the break at 600m, going into second place around the final bend, Jamie entered the home straight looking good for a medal. Unfortunately he was run out in the closing stages and finished in 5th place, but it was a terrific effort in a very competitive race. Phoebe Bate contested the u/18 girls 800m, which was run at a very fast pace from the gun, but despite a brave effort Phoebe finished out of the medal places.
Criostoir Ormsby jumped a personal best of 10.50m in the first round of the u/15 boys Triple Jump to get his competition off to the best possible start. He followed up with a good series of attempts but his first was the best and was enough to earn him the All-Ireland silver medal, to win Mullingar’s first and only medal of the day.
Overnight rain gave way to better conditions on Sunday morning 8th August but it still cool and windy. First in action was Kyle Faherty in the u/15 boys 100m, which was a straight final. Exploding from the blocks and quickly into his running, Kyle powered down the track and in an extremely close finish crossed the line in 4th place, very unlucky to just miss winning a medal by only a few hundredths of a second.
Despite an early slow pace in the u/16 girls 3,000m, Grace Byrne was unable to respond to a mid-race injection of pace and reproduce the form that won her Leinster silver and though she rallied in the closing stages she finished out of the medal places. Meabh Killalea fared better in the u/19 girls 3,000m but despite a good effort she finished out of the medal places in her final juvenile track event as she moves to the junior u/20 ranks next year.
Bouncing back after the disappointment of having to pull up in the 200m final the day before, Charles Okafor was untroubled in his heat of the u/19 boys 100m, easing down to win comfortably in 10.98 seconds to advance to the final as one of the favourites, where he led from gun to tape to win, dipping under 11 seconds again, into a head wind.
The sun made a welcome appearance for the 3,000m races, lifting the mood and temperature in Tullamore. The early pace of the u/16 boys 3,000m was very fast, ultimately leading to the winner setting a new Championship record, but keeping right in the mix throughout was Conor Sherwin racing hard all the way to finish a very creditable 6th place. Any disappointment he might have felt about not winning a medal was more than offset by knowing that his time 9:29.32 was a new personal best. Diarmuid Fagan never really settled into the early fast pace of the u/17 boys 3,000m and though he battled on bravely, he had to settle for a place out of the medals.
A tough week-end of top quality competition ended with Mullingar athletes winning 3 Gold medals, 1 Silver medal, 5 more finishing just outside the medal places and one recording a PB, which are fine results at an All-Ireland T&F.