Leinster Junior, Senior & Masters T&F 2021 (3rd/4th July)
It’s been two years since the last Leinster outdoor T&F competition, but that was put right on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th July when the Leinster Junior, Senior and Masters Outdoor T&F was held at the magnificent new track at IT Carlow. There were many successes recorded by Mullingar athletes across the two days, including 10 medals, but pride of place has to go to Eoin Quinn who achieved his second qualification standard in the 800m and to Charles Okafor who was a member of the Ireland team that achieved the 4x100m relay standard for the European under 20 T&F to take place in Tallinn, Estonia in mid-July.
Racing on Sunday afternoon in the Senior Men 800m, Colin P Smith set a blistering early pace through 500m, paving the way for Eoin Quinn to drive on and win in convincing fashion in 1:50.40, a new PB, a new Championship Best Performance but most importantly, achieving the European qualification standard. The other Colin, Colin D Smith, pushed Eoin on and he finished second in 1:53.75, making it gold and silver for Mullingar. Also finishing strongly was Brian Martin, dipping nicely under 2 minutes for the distance. Later in the afternoon, Charles Okafor ran the third leg of the Under 20 men 4x100m relay on the Ireland team seeking the European qualification standard of 41.40 seconds. They fell slightly short on their first attempt, but an hour later, raced again and they blasted to victory in 41.18 seconds to book their places in Tallinn.
All this excitement on Sunday came at the end of a fantastic week-end of competition for Mullingar. First into action on Saturday morning were Phoebe Bate and Bea Drummond in the Junior Women 1,500m and after a tactical race, Phoebe put her trademark fast finish to good effect to finish in second place and put Mullingar on the medal board. Bea finished strongly not far behind in sixth. In the Senior Women 1,500m Catriona Kennedy was having her first track race in some time and used the race to dust off the racing cobwebs and can be satisfied with her performance. Pauric Brady contested the Master Men 1,500m and despite every effort he couldn’t find the pace to keep in contention for the medals, but this will come with more races. No problem for Andrew Nevin in the Senior Men 3,000m steeplechase where he negotiated the tough barriers to finish very strongly in second place, delighted to add to his collection of Leinster track medals.
Charles Okafor has been having a great spell of good form recently and was just too good for the opposition in the Junior Men 100m, winning his heat with ease and in the final powered to victory in 10.82 seconds, which would have been a new PB except the tail wind was 2.2 metres per second, slightly over the allowable limit, but another terrific performance and reinforcing his reputation as one the best sprinters in Ireland.
Though a master athlete, Colm Walsh opted to compete in the Senior Men 5,000m race walk and showing great discipline and technique under the ever watchful eyes of the judges, earning no warnings or faults, was very happy to finish second and win the silver medal, his first individual senior Leinster T&F medal. The current Irish record holder in his age category, Sean McMullin was just too good for the opposition in the Master Men 3,000m race walk and simply cruised to victory.
Over in the field events, putting together a brilliantly consistent set of throws in the Master Men Weight for Distance event, Tom Walsh was a worthy winner of the silver medal in his age category. Competing for the first time in the Mullingar colours as a master athlete, newcomer Aidan O’Donoghue was delighted to put together a good series of throws in the Master Men Javelin to earn the silver medal in his age category, his first Leinster master medal.
Having placed second in the 400m hurdles at the recent National under 20 T&F, Shauna Leydon lined up on Sunday morning as the favourite in the Junior Women 400m hurdles but disaster struck as she was judged to have false started, so her race was over even before it began. Shauna was obviously very disappointed but is too experienced an athlete to dwell on it and will set her mind on future competition.
Pauric Brady returned to action on Sunday in the Master Men 800m where he ran a strong race to finish well up but out of the medals in an extremely competitive race. Amy Geoghegan and Meabh Killalea used the Junior Women 3,000m to get in some valuable racing experience, both finishing well, and will be looking to build on their performance in the upcoming Leinster juvenile T&F. Andrew Nevin, Ian McCormack and John Whitelaw contested the Senior Men 5,000m in warm sultry conditions, which were difficult for distance runners, but they gave good accounts and will take a lot from the racing experience. Intermittent showers made conditions difficult for the high jumpers, but Aidan O’Donoghue was delighted to perform better than he expected in the Master Men High Jump, winning the silver medal in his age category in an extremely close contest, his second Leinster medal of the week-end, but there’s no doubt he’ll win plenty more in future competition.
That rounded off the week-end when Mullingar athletes won the great total of ten Leinster medals and two athletes booked their places to the European under 20 T&F in Tallinn.