The IRISH Secondary Schools Championships in Tullamore, which included an invitation Open 1,500 metres and the Star Last Chance meeting on Florida’s Clermont Track, saw local athletes right in the thick of the weekend action.
Sprint star, Jason Smyth had a short trip from his Florida base for his latest 100 metre race and he posted yet another fast time of 10.29s and set himself up nicely for this weekend’s top class Diamond League meeting in New York.
Saturday’s clocking, his second legal fastest ever, was behind his 10.22s NI record posted in the Bahamas seven days earlier but would have convinced the Eglinton speedster that a sub 10.20s run is on the cards.
He just needs the right track conditions and a quality field, and these could well be present in New York in a few days time. Fingers crossed for a result, a new Irish record of sub 10.18s will do nicely Jason!
Meanwhile down in Tullamore a total of nine Irish Secondary Schools championship medals - one gold, four silver and four bronze - were won by a group of talented young athletes from local schools. Irish Schools medals are hugely coveted, the standards are red hot in all events and medal winners have to possess special quality. First they need to qualify from their District championships through to Provincial level and then do enough there to win a place at National level.
Not an easy ask but 12 individuals and a further two from the Thornhill Inter girls sprint relay squad made it all the way to Tullamore.
St Columb’s junior, Shane McGowan was the star of the show with a terrific 800m gold. He clocked a new PB of 2m 03.12s to win a hotly contested race from Ulster rival St Malachy’s Christopher Connolly who was just a stride behind in 2m 03.79s.
An exciting tussle and a rich reward for the promising young St Columb’s and City of Derry Spartans prospect.
The Buncrana Road college also produced junior sprinter, Jack McCloskey who stormed to double bronze in the 100m and 200m. He clocked 11.94s and 23.82s respectively and looks like a real find.
At Inter level St Columb’s almost had another gold, this time from 400m Hurdler Andrew Bolster. The blue College vest was pipped on the line in another titanic tussle, with the gold medallist from Galway and Bolster, both given the same time of 58.16s by the electronic timing system.
St Joseph’s Mark McGarvey came home with double silver from the 100m Hurdles and Long Jump in the Inter Boys age group, defeated by a last round winning leap of 6.79m to his own excellent 6.57m and then losing out to the Ulster champion and perennial rival, Andrew Creamor in the hurdles.
Thornhill’s Anna Barr won Inter Girls Triple Jump silver and 300m bronze in a rewarding afternoon’s work. She ran a speedy 41.22s 300m and then got out to a good 11.15m in the triple jump for silver, with Lumen Christi’s Claire Dougherty jumping 10.85m for the bronze medal.
Claire cleared 1.55m for High Jump fifth, missing a bronze medal on count-back and Thornhill Inter Long jumper, Roisin Laverty finished just 2cms off a bronze, her 5.20m placing her in fourth spot.
JP Williamson of Oakgrove ran 15m 35.47s for fourth in the Senior Boys 5,000m. JP ran most of the race in no man’s land as the top trio went away early to all finish sub 15m 20s and the Derry lad was then well clear of the chasing pack and had to do all the work on his own.
Ciara Armstrong was fourth in the Inter Girls 300m Hurdles and fifth in the 200m, the St Cecelia’s student eligible again next year disappointed, but will return a year older and stronger next year certain to make a bigger impression.
Lumen’s Amy Jackson in the Inter 800m ran a new PB of 2m 19.18s for sixth in a real classy race; St Mary’s Rebecca McLaughlin was sixth in the Senior Girls 400m and Kelly Simpson of St Cecelia’s was eighth in the senior Javelin.
Finally Anna Barr, Roisin Laverty, Megan Devine and Lisa Dobbins finished sixth in the Inter Girls sprint relay.