Schools’ stars bid for All-Ireland glory in Tullamore
There is excitement aplenty this week ahead of the 123.ie All-Ireland Schools Track and Field Championships which take place this Friday (June 2nd) and Saturday (June 3rd) in Tullamore.
Over one thousand of Ireland’s top schools’ athletics stars are expected to descend upon the Midlands venue for an action-packed two days of athletics.
Friday’s opening evening session will be live streamed on the Athletics Ireland YouTube channel from 6pm, while Saturday’s action will also be streamed. The action is available to watch HERE.
Action on the track gets underway at 6pm on Friday evening as the walks get the busy weekend underway.
Savanagh O’Callaghan (Mercy Tuam) will be the favourite to take the Intermediate Girls 2000m title having already secured her place at the European Youth Olympic Festival. Aisling Lane (Mercy Ballymahon) will look to add the senior title to the intermediate gold she won last year.
Having recently competed at the European Race Walking Team Championships in the Czech Republic, Andrew Glennon (St Finian’s Mullingar) and Jake O’Brien (St Gerald’s DLS College Castlebar) are expected to battle it out for gold in the Senior Boys 3000m.
Attention will then turn to the Steeplechase with Caoimhe Flannery (Skibbereen CS) starting as favourite to take the Intermediate Girls 1500m race, having recently set a new championship record at the Munster Schools Championships in Castleisland.
Aidan Maher (St. Colman’s, Fermoy) and Diarmuid Moloney (Nenagh CBS) could battle it out for the Intermediate Boys crown, while Billy Coogan (CBS Kilkenny) will have his eyes set on taking Senior Boys 2000m Steeplechase glory.
Ella Collins (Colaiste na Toirbhirte) will be in contention to win the Senior Girls Steeplechase but will face stiff competition from the likes of Eleanor Foot (Loretto Abbey Dalkey) and Claragh Keane (Presentation Wexford).
Saturday morning’s track action begins with the Intermediate and Senior Girls 3000m titles on the line. Clodagh Gill (St Mary’s Ballina) and Louise O’Mahony (Colaiste Muire Ennis) will fancy their chances of taking the respective gold medals, but others such as Anna Gardiner (Assumption GS) who goes in the senior race will be looking to make an impact.
Both sprint and long hurdles could see some very exciting contests. Veronica O’Neill (Thornhill College Derry) and Lucy McGlynn (Coláiste Colmcille Ballyshannon) are expected to dual it out for Senior Girls 100m and 400m Hurdles honours. European U18 medallist last summer, Fintan Dewhirst (St Columbas Glenties), will be firm favourite to take the Senior Boys 400m Hurdles crown, while Adam Nolan (Scoil Chonglais) who broke the Irish U20 110m Hurdles record last weekend in Carlow should have enough to take the Senior Boys title in the event.
Several athletes will bid to become Ireland’s fastest students when the Senior Girls and Boys 100m races take place at 11:25am. Fatima Amusa (Bishopstown CS), Sophie Gartland (Drogheda GS) and Funmi Talabi (AS Phadraig Granard) look to be some of the main contenders in the Senior Girls race, while Sean Aigboboh (High School), Jamie Moffat (Bangor GS) and Toby Thompson (Campbell College Belfast) will be looking to leave Tullamore with Senior Boys honours.
Stepping up to the 200m, Dannan Long (FCJ Bunclody) broke 22 seconds to win the Leinster Schools title and will go into the Senior Boys race as favourite, while the aforementioned Amusa could win a sprint double were she to take victory in the Senior Girls race.
The 800m races also look like they will be intriguing contests. The Minor Girls race could come down to the wire as Freya Bateman (Mount Mercy Cork) will battle it out against twin sisters Freya and Holly Renton (Sacred Heart Westport) for gold.
Maeve O’Neill (MICC Dunmanway) will start as the favourite to win the Senior Girls title but won’t have it all her own way as Zoe Ritchie (The Teresian School) and Kirsti Foster (Down HS Downpatrick) look to mount a challenge.
The Senior Boys race is wide open with provincial champions Oisin Lynch (St Brendans Killarney), Ben Clavin (St Attractas Tubbercurry), Niall Culnane (St Olivers Drogheda) and Oisin Kelly (Loreto Milford) amongst those who will be hoping to come out on top.
Kelly’s schoolmate Caolan McFadden, who won the U16 Boys national cross country title last year in Rosapenna, will be looking to take Intermediate Boys victory.
There is also sure to be some breath-taking one lap battles over 400m. Niamh Murray (Loretto Dalkey) made the Irish senior relay squad for the recent European Indoor Championships in Istanbul and will be hopeful she can win the Senior Girls crown. Holly Kilroe (Convent of Mercy Roscommon) and Hannah Murray (St Columbas Stranorlar) will have their eyes on a podium place.
The Senior Boys 400m is extremely difficult to call. David Bosch (Wesley College), Joe Doody (CBC Monkstown), twin brothers David and Stephen Mannion (Seamount Kinvara) and Jake Coffey (De La Salle Waterford) will all be in the mix.
The 1500m races will also see some top athletes toe the line. Hannah Kehoe (Loretto Kilkenny), Amy Wallace (St. Finian’s Mullingar), Rebecca Rossiter (Down HS Downpatrick) and Lucy Foster (Down HS Downpatrick) will all feel they are capable of winning Senior Girls gold.
Lughaidh Mallon (Rathmore Belfast) and Cormac Dixon (HFCS Rathcoole) could go head-to-head in the Senior Boy’s 1500m, while EYOF medallist Sean Cronin (Colaiste Ghlor na Mara) looks to be the favourite in the Intermediate Boys race.
The final individual track races of the day will see Jonas Stafford (East Glendalough) go for gold in the Senior Boys 5000m. Stafford set a new championship record at the recent Leinster Schools Championships.
Relay fever sets in from 4.10pm and there is sure to be no lack of thrills and spills as the 4x100m races get things up and running. The final track action of the day will 4x300m and 4x400m senior races.
A number of Minor and Junior field events take place on Friday evening before the older age groups kick off on Saturday morning.
The Senior Girls High Jump will be one of the first competitions underway at 9am. Ava Rochford (Rice College Ennis) will be the firm favourite to win the title, as she looks to build ahead of the European U20 Championships in Jerusalem in August. Rochford jumped a 1.80m PB at the recent Munster Schools Championships.
Caoimhe Gallen (St Columbas Stranorlar) will hope to take the Intermediate Girls Hammer Throw, while her sister and schoolmate Adrienne will take beating in the Senior Girls competition. Both Gallen sisters will also look to win Shot Put medals in their respective categories.
Fellow Stranorlar student Cormac O’Donnell goes for gold in the Senior Boys Hammer Throw.
Una Brice (Mount Mercy Cork) will be aiming for a good performance in the Senior Girls Pole Vault, while Conor Callinan (Colaiste an Chroi Naofa) will look to reach the top of the podium in the Senior Boys competition.
Christvie Lunganga (Kishoge CC) will be fancied to win the Senior Girls Long Jump, if she can replicate her 5.57m performance achieved at the Leinster Schools Championships, while fellow Leinster champion Daniel Burke (Temple Carrig) leads the entries for the Senior Boys competition.
Michael Kent (Good Counsel, New Ross) will be hoping to continue his good run of form in the Intermediate Boys Long Jump. A national senior indoor medallist in the Triple Jump at the age of just fifteen, Kent jumped 7.00m at the Leinster Junior Championships last weekend. He is also entered in the High Jump where he looks set to challenge Alex Heaney (Scoil Mhuire Clane) for gold.
Emmanuel Osas (Dunshauglin) will be the firm favourite heading into the Senior Boys High Jump.
Saidbh Byrne (Colaiste Bride Carnew) looks set to challenge for Senior Girls javelin glory, while Oisin Joyce (Ballinrobe Community School) will be tough to beat in the Senior Boys competition having thrown 66m at the Connacht Schools Championships in Athlone.
In the Senior Girls Triple Jump, Sophie Byrne (Newbridge College), Grace Fitzgerald (St. Anne’s Tipp Town) and Natalie McCrory (Portadown College) will battle it out for gold, while Daniel Quirk (Temple Carrig) will be hoping to become Senior Boys champion in the event.
Alex Ademola (Colaiste Chriost Ri) will face tough competition from Liam Shaw (Presentation Athenry) and Finn O’Neill (Limavady GS) if he wants to be crowned Senior Boy Discus champion, while Anna Gavigan (Loretto Balbriggan) goes into the Senior Girls competition as overwhelming favourite having thrown over 45m at the Leinster Schools Championships.
The aforementioned Shaw also aims for glory in the Shot Put. Callum Keating (Hazelwood College Dromcollogher) will also be looking to take gold.