Juvenile scene in fine fettle
Very productive and successful 2018 across the board
ATHLETICS WEXFORD can be quietly pleased as it looks back on what has been a very productive and successful 2018.
This is especially the case in the place it matters most: the competitive arena. The county’s Juvenile athletics scene is in rude good health, with more athletes than ever medalling at national level.
It is particularly gratifying to note that young Wexford athletes are performing to a high standard right across the board - walks, throws, middle distance, sprints, jumps, combined events and cross-country.
That said, as athletes move on from under-age to Junior and Senior levels, the challenge will be to keep them motivated and involved. There is no room for complacency.
Coaching and development: Athletics Ireland has introduced a new coaching and development support structure which, if it works, should help athletes at all levels although, as is to be expected, most of the focus will be on those who are already of national or international standard.
Wexford has a number of Juvenile athletes who, with the right management and coaching, have what it takes to compete at Senior international level, right up to, and including, world championships and Olympics.
Of course, as everyone knows, having the potential to achieve is one thing, avoiding all the hurdles life throws up is quite another. The foundation stones that make the athlete are laid down in the formative years. This means that an athlete’s first coach can be the person who establishes the template for what they will become.
Athletics Wexford announced at a recent meeting that it will be organising coaching and mentoring sessions for athletes and their coaches so that they can plan better and train smarter.
Our youth, our future: The aim of every young Irish athlete is to one day pull on the green jersey and represent their country.
Three Wexford athletes made the Irish team which competed at the schools international track and field meet in Glasgow in July: Loreto Wexford’s Aisling Kelly (sprints) and Róisín O’Reilly (steeplechase), and Gergely Pap of Wexford C.B.S. who competed in shot putt. They helped Ireland to a second place finish behind a very strong English team.
A month later, Aisling and Róisín were selected on the team for the Celtic International meet which took place at the same venue just outside Glasgow. They were joined by Jack Forde (high jump), and Lystus Ebosele (discus).
A prerequisite to being selected is winning one’s event at the national championships. Once again the Wexford athletes gave a good account of themselves and helped Ireland to a second place finish, this time behind the Scots.
High jump specialist and combined eventer Maeve Haves of Loreto Wexford and St. Paul’s A.C. travelled to Scotland in November for the schools international pentathlon. She played her part in securing silver team medals for Ireland.
Claragh Keane (D.M.P.) has been selected, on the back of a great run at the national championships, for the Irish team competing at the Celtic International cross-country in Belfast on January 19.
With so many stellar Wexford performances over the year, it almost seems churlish to pick highlights.
Multi-talented combined events specialist Jack Forde is one of our most prolific champions. At last summer’s Leinster track and field he came away with three golds and two C.B.P’s, while he won All-Ireland medals indoors and outdoors and competed with distinction internationally.
Another multi-eventer, Enniscorthy’s Saidhbhe Byrne, had a brilliant year with All-Ireland success in javelin and combined events.
High jumper Ryan Carthy-Walsh of Adamstown and Good Counsel College took his foot off the pedal during the year and still managed to win national titles.
The middle distance boys of United Striders, led by Myles Hewlett and Ben Wall and including Cosmo Hewlett, Eoin and Aidan Shannon, Finbarr Kelly and Robert Wall, had a wonderful year with a fine haul of individual and team medals at provincial and national levels.
Indeed, this was a year in which Wexford’s under-age distance runners stepped up to the plate with impressive performances by the aforementioned Striders boys, as well as Kevin O’Mahony, Nathan Murphy, Aedan Rogers, Róisín O’Reilly, Claragh, Éabha and Conor Keane, Sarah Phylan, Joe Byrne, Mairéad Crean and Emma McCarthy. Bree youngsters Lea Bolger, Jayden Kenny and Cian O’Donovan also caught the eye.
Aisling Kelly of Taghmon and Loreto Wexford was easily one of our most successful sprinters in 2018, winning All-Ireland gold and silver and competing internationally. And, of course, there was the Menapians rocket David McDonald, of whom more later.
Revelation of the year was Ruby Reynolds. Competing in her first year of competitive athletics, the young Menapians lady won All-Ireland gold medals in Under-13 60m hurdles both indoors and outdoors. Ruby has a lovely relaxed attitude which, one presumes, comes from the fact that she enjoys doing what she is doing as much as simply striving to be the best.
In the walks there was national success for Ryan Kielthy, Ciara, Tríona and Joe Mooney, Aidan Kehoe, Eve Byrne, Isabel Bawden, Jack Byrne and Brídín Doyle. Brídín caused a sensation at the national championships when, competing Under-14, she won, not just her own category, but the race outright in a time of 11.22.19 minutes.
Wexford throwers really threw their weight around over the year! Those making it to the winners’ podium, often multiple times, included Pádraig Hore, Lystus Ebosele, Marguerite Furlong, Bronagh O’Hanlon, Amy Forde, Emma Owens, Sonia Mooney, Kate Jackman, Gergely Pap and Joshua Hewlett.
National Senior track and field success: Wexford had a small but powerful crew of big hitters at the 2018 national Senior track and field championships.
Menapians speedster Leon Reid struck gold in both 100m and 200m. Marco Pons of D.M.P. took the national discus title with a throw of 53.67m, two metres more than he threw a year previously when placing second.
Enniscorthy’s Michael Bowler also went one place better than the year before as he won the pole vault with 4.50m.
Ryan Carthy-Walsh (Adamstown) won the high jump without needing to exert himself. Emma Owens of St. Paul’s won a bronze in discus and might have medalled in hammer but for a mishap in the throwing circle.
National Intermediate cross-country: Kilmore’s Fiona Kehoe battled her way through the winter muck of Clarinbridge to place a very respectable fifth in the national Intermediate women’s 5k race. The previous week at the A.A.I. indoor games, Fiona placed second in the 3,000m in 9.49.60m.
There was a fifth place finish for Ger Forde of Slaney Olympic in the Intermediate men’s 8k race.
Getting better with age: Wexford’s Masters sector continues to thrive with good numbers competing at all levels. It was another successful year for our Masters athletes on both national and international stages.
Jackie Carthy, Niall Sheil, Anne Gilshinan, Ann Sullivan, Fiona Kehoe, John McGrath and Ger Maloney all competed internationally over the year. And all have the medals to prove it!
Among those medalling at the All-Ireland Masters track and field and combined events were Gavin Kelly, Sonya Byrne, Paul Crowe, Jimmy O’Neill, Emily Waldron, Áine Cullen and John O’Connor.
In the national Masters cross-country, the Over-50 Wexford men won team gold ahead of a more fancied Dublin team. Leading Wexford home was Jim Stafford who also won individual gold Over-55, his first at national level.
European medals for Jackie and Niall: At the European Masters championships in Madrid, Jackie Carthy won a gold medal in the Over-45 5k cross-country and a silver in the 3,000m.
Niall Sheil placed twelfth in the 1,500m and twelfth in the cross-country race, winning a silver medal in the latter with the Irish team.
Record breakers: At the 2018 Leinster Masters track and field championships, Antoinette Stafford of D.M.P. re-wrote the record books, posting a winning, and world-leading, 5.40 metres best in long jump.
In doing so she erased the long-standing 5.04m mark set in 1979 by former Olympian Méabh Kyle. Antoinette went on to win 100m in a new C.B.P. of 13.46s.
Anne Gilshinan (Slaney Olympic) won the W50 1,500m in a C.B.P. of 4.58.39 minutes. D.M.P’s Ann Sullivan made a welcome return to track, following an absence of four years, to win W55 1,500m in a C.B.P. of 5.23.25 minutes, and the 3,000m in a C.B.P. of 11.27.04 minutes.
Athlete of the month Ryan Carthy-Walsh of Adamstown – All-Ireland Under-20 and Senior high jump champion – with Seamus Darcy Mr Oil (sponsor) and Paddy Morgan (Athletics Wexford Chairman). Ryan is regarded as the best prospect on the Irish high jumping scene.
Claragh Keane of D.M.P. who has been selected for the Celtic International cross-country in Belfast on January 19 after a great run at the national championships.
Pádraig Hore of Taghmon who made it to the winners’ podiumregularly.
Ruby Reynolds of Menapians was the find of the year.
Lystus Ebosele from Enniscorthy who excelled in the discus and represented Ireland.