Week ending Saturday 24th July
Mullingar quartet at memorable European T&F
To say that Ireland had a memorable European under 20 T&F Championships in Tallinn, Estonia last week would be an understatement. Four gold medals placed Ireland third on the medal table, a brilliant result, and among the large team of thirty three athletes that cheered and supported Team Ireland throughout, was four from Mullingar Harriers. This Championship was the stuff of dreams and will only inspire our Mullingar athletes to continue to work hard to qualify for future events.
Eoin Quinn participated in heat 1 of the 800m last Friday. As it was the first heat, it was a tactical race and Eoin finished strongly in fifth place in a time of 1 minute 54.24 seconds. There were just three automatic qualification places from each heat, so unfortunately Eoin did not advance to the semi-final. This was Eoin’s first time to compete at European level and he gained invaluable experience. Eoin is one of the most improved young athletes in the country and hopefully, this will be the start of a long international career.
To have two from the one Club in the same event at a European T&F Championships is rare, but that was Oisin Lane and Matthew Glennon, as they took on the very best in Europe on the track over 10,000m race walk last Saturday morning during the heat wave that struck Estonia. A big entry of thirty one started, and both Mullingar men reached the half way mark in 22 minutes 16 seconds. Oisin then responded tactically to all the attacks at the front of the field to complete the second half in a fantastic 21 minutes 17 seconds for a sixth place finish and a new personal best of 43 minutes 33 seconds and the best ever performance by an under 20 Irish man in this specialist event. For Matthew, tight hamstrings hampered his progress but he battled bravely in the conditions, holding off much older and experienced athletes to finish twenty second in his first Major Championship, which was a great learning experience for him, especially as he is still eligible for this level of competition again next year.
Charles Okafor had to wait until the final day, last Sunday morning, to compete in the 4x100m relay, running the third leg. With only the first two in each heat and the next two fastest times to qualify for the final, it was always going to be a difficult task. With an excellent smooth run and a time quicker than the team ran in Carlow to qualify for the Europeans to place sixth in their heat, unfortunately their time of 41.06 seconds wasn’t enough to advance to the final, but it was still a great effort and Charles was delighted to be one of the four selected to run. Like Matthew Glennon, Charles is underage again next year.
Big Mullingar medal haul in sun-drenched Carlow
The Leinster Juvenile T&F Championships continued last Saturday and Sunday in glorious sunshine at the magnificent new athletics grounds at IT Carlow. Competition was for under 14 to under 19 and Mullingar athletes featured strongly in every event they competed in, many winning medals. We knew we were in for a scorcher of a day on Saturday morning when temperatures were already in the twenties by 9am. The mercury continued to climb during the day and reached 28degC in the shade by the afternoon, and a very sticky 32degC out on the track, making it very difficult for our 1,500m athletes in particular.
Kyle Faherty was fortunate to have a straight final in his under 15 boys 100m, so could run and then cool down and head home to rest for his 200m race the next day. Given how well he has been training recently, it was no surprise that he made short work of it, blasting from the blocks and leading from gun to tape to win the race with ease by nearly three metres and take the Leinster title, booking his place in the All-Ireland finals in August.
Jamie Wallace had to work hard in the under 15 boys 1,500m but his class showed in the end with a great turn of pace on the finish straight to win. Mullingar had five girls in the under 16 girls 1,500m where Adele Geoghegan led the chasing group on the long time leader, fighting hard in the closing stages to secure the silver medal by a narrow margin, followed in by Grace Byrne, Caoimhe Donohue, Jessica Cunningham and Leah Geoghegan who can be very satisfied with their performances in a top class race. Showing his strength over 3,000m the week before, Conor Sherwin dropped down to the under 16 boys 1,500m and showing great pace with a very swift 63 second last lap as he pulled clear of the group to win his second Leinster title. Pablo Lozano also competed well and finished strongly, but out of the medals on this occasion. Ross Killalea put in a great effort in the under 17 boys 1,500m where he kept in contention throughout but when the final sprint for the finish began down the back straight on the final lap, he battled very hard but just couldn’t close the gap on the medal places and was very unlucky to finish fourth in a close finish, followed home by Diarmuid Fagan. In the under 18 girls 1,500m, Amy Geoghegan competed extremely well but had to settle for a place out of the medals this time. Meabh Killalea showed great determination in the under 19 girls 1,500m racing hard all the way and never giving up the battle for a medal in the home straight, she raced hard to the line, crossing in third place by a very narrow margin from silver but delighted to earn a Leinster bronze medal for her efforts all the same. Colin Smith ended the day for Mullingar with a well deserved gold medal in the under 19 boys 1,500m after a very polished performance where his class showed in a great finish, pulling away in the closing stages to win. Lorcan Mullen battled hard behind him but hampered by a recent calf niggle, just couldn’t get the extra edge to get in the medals, crossing the line in fourth place.
Sunday was just as warm as Saturday, but the 800m races were on first, so avoided the worst of the heat. Ross Killalea lined out in the under 17 boys 800m but found the going very tough, and no doubt was still feeling the effects of his exertions over 1,500m in boiling hot temperatures the afternoon before, and though he finished well he was disappointed to finish out of the medal places. Phoebe Bate used her trademark fast finish to hold off a late challenge in the under 18 girls 800m to finish fourth overall, but with the winner running as a guest, Phoebe secured the bronze medal and a coveted place in the All-Ireland finals. The only way to beat Colin Smith is take the race hard from the gun and hope to take the edge off his terrific sprint finish, and that’s exactly what happened in the under 19 boys 800m. The eventual winner set a blistering early pace, with Colin keeping close behind, but as the race unfolded, Colin’s exertions over 1,500m the day before took their toll and he just couldn’t find the extra edge to catch the winner, but had enough in the tank to take silver in a very close finish. The re-match at the All-Ireland finals in August will be very interesting!
Eve Medforth advanced from her heat of the under 14 girls 75m hurdles but disaster struck in the final when she clipped one of the hurdles midway through the race and she fell. She got back on her feet and finished but the race is so short there is no time to recover. This is a constant threat hanging over all hurdlers – the risk of hitting a hurdle and falling. It was a very tough introduction to the event for Eve, but great credit is due to her for reaching a Leinster final in her first time of asking and that’s something she can build on for the future.
Mullingar’s reputation in race walking was enhanced further with success by John Glennon (under 15 boys 2,000m walk), Aisling Lane (under 17 girls 3,000m walk) and Andrew Glennon (under 17 boys 3,000m walk), all racing to victory and well deserved Leinster titles in sweltering conditions.
Having won the 100m with ease the day before, all eyes were on Kyle Faherty in the under 15 boys 200m. Winning his heat with ease, he lined up in the final as the favourite and he didn’t disappoint. Running hard from the blocks around the bend, he came into the straight in the lead and maintaining his form he kept in front to the finish to win his second Leinster title of the weekend and round off a very successful Championship for Mullingar Harriers.
In total, Mullingar athletes won eight gold medals, two silvers and two bronze, adding to the five medals won in the 3,000m the week before, which will see Mullingar well represented at the All-Ireland final in August and we still have the final day to come this Saturday when we expect a few more to win medals and places in the All-Ireland finals too.
Leinster T&F continues
This coming Saturday the Leinster T&F for under 14 to under 19 concludes at IT Carlow. The focus for Mullingar will be the longer distance hurdles, triple jump and the conclusion of the 800m and 200m events. We wish everyone the very best of luck in Carlow. A detailed timetable, entry lists, information for athletes and parents, and the link to the Covid health questionnaire will be available on the Athletics Leinster website by Friday evening. Unfortunately, under current health guidelines in order to limit numbers at the event, only one parent or adult is allowed to accompany each child competing, so no siblings or other family members should travel to support – they won’t be allowed in. Also, both athlete and parent must complete the Covid form on the morning of competition.
Check the Club’s website at www.mullingarharriers.com or its Facebook page for all the latest news.