Ju­ve­nile scene in fine fet­tle

Very pro­duc­tive and suc­cess­ful 2018 across the board

New Ross Standard - - SPORT -

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.

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