Week ending Saturday 7th Mar
Another breakthrough performance by Jack O’Leary in the USA
Jack O’Leary continued his excellent current form in the US Collegiate Indoor circuit with another terrific personal best time in Boston last Friday night when he took part in the 5,000m at the Boston University Last Chance Meeting. With a superb performance, he finished twelfth in his race in 13 minutes 44.12 seconds, improving on his previous personal best by a huge 27 seconds. He now leads the Irish 2020 indoor ranking list in the 5,000m and 3,000m in what has been a very well deserved breakthrough indoor season. Jack is now 17th in the USA Collegiate ranking and he awaits the release of the official NCAA Indoor T&F Championship qualifying list in the coming week with added confidence.
National Senior Bronze for Sarah Glennon
Taking place over two days last weekend, the AAI Senior Indoors at the National Indoor Arena in Abbotstown provided an excellent opportunity to see some of the best athletes in Ireland in action, among them a small number from Mullingar. As expected, winning medals at this level is extremely difficult but the Mullingar athletes competed with great determination.
With two heats of the men’s 3,000m on Saturday morning and only the first four and next four fastest finishers advancing to the final, Padraig Moran knew he had his work cut out, but going in the second heat, he knew what he had to do. He kept right in contention from the start and even though he had to drop back a bit over the final stages, he had enough done and enough left in the tank to secure a place in Sunday’s final. It is tough to run two 3,000m races in two days and Padraig gave it his best effort in the final on Sunday but despite a good race he finished out of the medal places but has to be happy to have qualified for a National Senior track final and the experience will stand to him.
There were seven heats of the men’s 200m where the six fastest times would advance to the final. Charles Okafor ran a terrific race, finishing a close second in his heat, not far off his personal best for the distance, and only missed a place in the final by one place. This was his first Senior competition and the experience will stand to him.
Sarah Glennon gave a gutsy effort in the women’s 3,000m race walk, tracking the pre-race favourite and eventual winner Kate Veale (West Waterford) for much of the way but when the pressure increased, Sarah had to drop back and was eventually caught and relegated to third place with three laps to go. A late rally saw her closing hard on the silver medal in the final lap but the finish line came too soon and she had to settle for bronze, though was still very happy to win a National senior medal.
Despite an early break from the pack by one athlete who built so big a lead that she could not be caught and eventually ran out the winner, there was still a dozen in the closely bunched chasing pack of the women’s 3,000m, among them Claire Fagan working determinately to keep in contention. With four laps to go, a surge in the pace saw Claire forced to drop off the pack but she continued to work hard and finished strongly but out of the medal places.
Only the winner and next four fastest times of the extremely competitive heats of the men’s 800m would advance to Sunday’s final. Running in the final heat, Colin Smith ran a very solid race and put himself in an excellent position to qualify with a strong third place finish but he was extremely unlucky to miss a place in the final by one spot, only one tenth of a second away.
Charles Okafor and Oisin Lane honoured by Athletics Ireland
At a Gala Function in the Bridge House Hotel in Tullamore last Saturday evening, Charles Okafor was presented with the National Juvenile Star Award for Westmeath for 2019 and Oisin Lane was presented with the Roisin O’Callaghan Special Award for Walks.
Charles won All-Ireland silver medals for the indoor 60m and 200m and double gold for the outdoor 100m and 200m but the highlight of 2019 was making his International debut for Ireland at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Baku (Azerbaijan) where he competed in the 200m and in the medley relay. Oisin’s award is in recognition of the outstanding year he had in 2019. He won the All-Ireland Junior Indoor 3,000m race walk and the u/18 Outdoor 5,000m race walk. The highlights though were an excellent fourteenth place at the Junior European Cup of Race Walking in Lithuania, which is a Major event and is the race walking equivalent of the European Cross Country, and finishing fourth in the 10,000m race walk at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Azerbaijan.
Leinster also retained the Bishop McFeeley Cup for best juvenile cross country Region and with Mullingar athletes scoring on seven of the thirteen Leinster teams that won medals, they can take some of the credit for helping Leinster to win this cup. This is great testament to the hard work put in by our outstanding juvenile cross country athletes and their coaches. Congratulations to them all, they can be very proud of themselves and their achievements.
On the road
Fortunately, the very high winds and the snow showers of Storm Jorge had passed across the Country overnight but despite the blue skies last Sunday morning, it was still very cold with a stiff breeze and the odd shower of sleet. This might have put some off from taking part in the Longford AC 5k and 10k road races in Longford Town, but not the hardy group from Mullingar. Best of the just over one hundred finishers of the 5k race was Andrew Nevin, winning in 16 minutes 55 seconds, comfortably clear of second place by nearly half a minute. The longer 10k race was two laps of the fast 5k course where just under one hundred runners took part. First home for Mullingar was Patrick Muldoon, finishing sixth place in 37 minutes 54 seconds. It was a one-two for Mullingar in the women’s race thanks to Sinead Whitelaw (ninth overall) in 38 minutes 12 seconds and Aine O’Reilly (eleventh overall) in 39 minutes 7 seconds. Also competing was John Bannon (first in his master category), Vera McCool (first in her master category) and Paul McCool, all glad to finish and get out of the cold to enjoy the post-race refreshments and prize giving.
Conditions were a bit better last Sunday afternoon for the inaugural Naas 10 mile, where there was no rain or sleet though the stiff breeze made it feel very cold, but there was an excellent entry of 630, which is terrific for an inaugural event. Leading the Mullingar group home in twenty second place was Kieran Nolan (63:43), followed only two places behind by James Cribbin (63:52). Then Alan Crowley (65:09) making a welcome return to racing, Joan Hickson (76:14), Siobhan Farry (80:07), Miriam Walsh (80:46) and Michael O’Sullivan (86:52) followed them in, glad to finish the long race in tough conditions and get indoors to warm up and have something to eat and something hot to drink to help them recover.
We missed it last week, but two weeks ago (Sunday 23rd) Patrick Muldoon made a trip to Cork to take part in the second edition of the Kinsale 10 Mile, which took place in very nice sunny conditions over a lovely picturesque course with a few hills and finishing on the recently laid all-weather track in Kinsale. Hosted by Riverstick Kinsale AC, The event attracted a huge entry with 723 finishing the race and Patrick was happy to finish well up in eighteenth place in 62 minutes 44 seconds, about 20 seconds slower than last year, but he was still happy with his performance.
Plenty of action this weekend
Mullingar athletes will be in action at a number of events this weekend. Nearly twenty of the Club’s underage athletes will be competing on Saturday at the All-Ireland Schools Cross Country in Santry Demesne. On the same day, but in Cork, some of the Club’s third level students will be competing at the Irish Universities Cross Country Championships. Staying outdoors but out of the muck, the National 20k Road Walks takes place in Raheny, which will include a number of shorter non-Championship development races for our underage race walkers. Finally, on Sunday it will be the turn of our master athletes to compete at the National Masters Indoors in Athlone IT. Indoors or outdoors, muck or road, we wish all our athletes the very best of luck.
Finally, the Executive and members of the Club extend sincere sympathy to Nollaig McEntegart on the recent death of his mother-in-law, Elizabeth (Betty) Flynn from Delvin. May she rest in peace.
For the latest results, news and details of all upcoming fixtures check the Club’s website at www.mullingarharriers.com.