National Juvenile Medals for ‘Spartans’ in Athlone

Niamh Watson, City of Derry AC Spartans during the Girls U17 High Jump final, at the Woodie's DIY Juvenile Indoor Track and Field Championships in Athlone Institute of Technology International Arena.
Niamh Watson, City of Derry AC Spartans during the Girls U17 High Jump final, at the Woodie's DIY Juvenile Indoor Track and Field Championships in Athlone Institute of Technology International Arena.

National Juvenile Indoor championship medals for City of Derry Spartans duo, Naomi Morgan and Martin McGeady were the local highlights from the Athlone Arena over the weekend.

Naomi claimed Under-19 Long Jump gold and 60m Hurdles silver as Martin sped to U19 400m bronze.

Meanwhile Marina Campbell ran 88m 04s for a fourth place finish in Saturday’s Larne Half Marathon, Stephen Connor and Kieron Hurley made the top six at the final Finn Valley 5k series race on Sunday while Declan Reed, Scott Rankin and Amy Jackson helped their respective N. Ireland squads to sixth place finishes at the Home Countries Cross Country in Woolaton Park, Nottingham on Saturday.

Naomi Morgan confirmed her position among the best Juvenile talents in the country with a terrific double podium performance in Athlone as she battled Grace McKenzie of Belgooly AC for supremacy in both the U19 Long Jump and 60m Hurdles finals. Battled was indeed the operative word as both events were desperately close. Both jumped 5m 30cm in the Long Jump with the Belgooly athlete taking the gold on countback and the bronze medallist, in fact, was also too close for comfort with her 5m 29cm leap.

The 60m Hurdles final again paired the duo and both were locked together at the line, sharing the 9.34s clocking but the photo finish camera gave the gold to the Spartan. A terrific weekend for Naomi as she added to her national medals haul and also to her growing reputation.

Martin McGeady too was involved in a tight finish in his U19 400 final, his excellent 50.17s clocking good enough for bronze, just ahead of the fourth placer’s 50.19s.

The impressive winner of this race from the Ferrybank club set a new championship best of 48.96s to take gold, but this was a good early season performance from the local boy.

Fintan Stewart in the U16 1,500m final ran 4m 25.62s only to miss a medal by 0.30s, inches in fact, but he will learn from his Athlone experience and will be worth watching outdoors over the summer.

Moving to cross country and Declan Reed led home the NI squad at Saturday’s Home Countries Cross Country championships in Nottingham on Saturday.

The firmish underfoot conditions in Woolaton Park were appreciated by the two locals in action Reed and Scott Rankin, as the Spartan finished 19th and the Foyle Valley man 26th in the classy field.

The NI men’s squad finished sixth, as did the U20 women’s squad with Amy Jackson scoring third on the squad. Amy was 30th, backing up Yasmin Wilson 26th and Omagh athlete Elish Flanagan 27th and will now turn to the summer season of track and perhaps a few road races.

Gerard Gallagher of the promoting club Finn Valley won the last of the four strong 5K series in Stranorlar on Sunday, posting 15m 30s for the win. Foyle Valley’s Stephen Connor was fourth on 16, 20s with the Spartans’ Kieron Hurley back in action again, for sixth on 16m 45s.

Staying on the road Joe McAlister of St Malachy’s ran a solid 69m 44s to win Saturday’s Larne Half Marathon as Fiona Stack of Raheny Shamrock AC clocked 79m 44s, a new course record in winning the women’s race.

Both winners are, of course, former Waterside Half Marathon winners and a reminder that online entries for the September 14th Waterside are set to open on March 31st next. Marina Campbell has targeted a big run in the SSE Airtricity Walled City Marathon in June and her 88m 04s effort on Saturday gave her a fourth place finish behind Stack, Heather Foley on 83m 06s and English visitor Julia Belyavin, 85m 20s.

Not a bad run at all as she builds up the pre-marathon miles and she could go well in Derry in a few months time.