Ireland’s next generation of top athletes competed in the prestigious Irish Life Health All-Ireland Schools Track and Field Championships on Saturday in Tullamore. This was the 102nd time the event was run with over 360 schools represented in near perfect weather conditions.
Often marked as one of the best events in the Irish Athletics calendar, the occasion did not disappoint as the young athletes put on a remarkable display which saw some old records smashed.
In the senior girls 1500m, Sarah Healy (Holy Child Killiney & Blackrock AC) put on one of the best performances of the day when she stormed to victory breaking Ciara Mageean’s record of 4:19.00 with a time of 4:18.32. Just last week Sarah set a new Irish U18 youth record in the 1500m, running a time of 4:13.32 and at the same time recording a World Junior A qualifying time. Healy was crowned female athlete of the championship for her extraordinary exhibition.
Ciara Neville (Castletroy College & Emerald AC) running in her final All-Ireland Schools Track and Field Championships was a bit unfortunate - on another day she may have picked up the accolade. Remaining unbeaten in her schools career, Neville emulated her senior girls treble of 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay of last year, taking home gold in all the events yet again. In lane six, Ciara clocked a time of 11.62 in the 100m, the fastest electronic time in the event. In the 200m Neville clocked 23.79 and with her teammates, Chloe Tobin, Anna Burke and Annie Russell, they signed off their schools athletics careers in style in the 4x100m relay with a time of 48.66.
After recording a World Junior A qualifying time in the 400m last weekend, Davicia Patterson (Hunterhouse & Beechmount) continued her good form to set a new record in the senior girls’ 400m setting a time of 53.90. Ciara Deely (Loreto Kilkenny & Kilkenny City Harriers) was hot on her heels and managed a second place finish running 54.33.
Rhasidat Adeleke (Presentation Terenure & Tallaght AC) bagged double gold in the intermediate girls’ 100m in 11.68 and the 200m in 24.05. This was the second year in a row Adeleke took the double in the All-Ireland Schools meet. Patience Jumbo-Gula (St Vincent's Dundalk & St Gerards AC) took silver recording a time of 11.84. That wasn’t the end for Patience and when she combined with her St Vincent’s Dundalk teammates Sarah Morgan, Ellen McBride and Maria Smith in the inter girls’ 4x100m, they went on to break the 10 year old championship record set by Ballyclare AC. Anchoring the race, Jumbo-Gula opened up a 10m gap as the girls set a new record time of 48.45.
Alannah Neff (Carrigaline CS & Leevale AC) showed incredible determination fighting back in the senior girls’ 1500m steeplechase to pick up gold having previously fallen, running a time of 5:05:12. Aoibhinn McGoldrick (Holy Faith Clontarf & Raheny Shamrock AC) was narrowly pipped on the line and claimed silver with a time of 5:05:12.
Junior girl, Kate Hosey (St Attractas Tubbercurry & Corran AC), got the day off to a wonderful start claiming gold in the long jump and setting a new schools record of 5.72m. Hosey went on to claim bronze in the junior girls’ 100m with Emily De-Bhal (Col Choilm Ballincollig) and Jenna Breen (Grosvenor Grammar) bagging gold and silver respectively.
Sommer Lecky (Strabane Academy & Finn Valley AC) claimed first place in the senior girls' high jump, rising highest to clear a best of 1.79m. Sophie Meredith (Newcastle West & St Marys Limerick) was equally as impressive in the senior girls' long jump recording victory with a jump of 5.93m.
Niamh Fogarty (St Joseph’s Rochfortbridge) who claimed a Juvenile Star Award back in February won the senior girls’ discus in 45.88m.
It was a special day for all involved and considering the extra pressures of the busy exam season the talent and character of the athletes shone through. You can check out all the other brilliant results from the meet here.
We look forward to the upcoming events in the Athletics Ireland calendar!