Schools stars steal the show at provincial championships


There was a host of impressive performances over the past week as the provincial school’s track and field championships took place across the country.

Action took place in Athlone, Tullamore, Castleisland, and Antrim as a number of Ireland’s top teenage talents aimed to advance to the All Ireland Schools Track and Field Championships which take place early next month.

One of the athletes to watch then will be Jonas Stafford (East Glendalough School). Stafford, who represented Ireland in the U20 race at the European Cross Country Championships in Turin last December, has progressed rapidly in the last year under the guidance of coach Feidhlim Kelly. He set not one but two championship records at the Leinster Schools Championships in Tullamore in the past week showing his class as an athlete.

Last Wednesday he broke the Senior Boys 2000m Steeplechase record that had stood for fifteen years to claim victory in an impressive time of 5.53.07. Three days later he returned to the Midlands venue and won yet another gold, running a swift 14.30.91 for 5000m, taking Efrem Gidey’s 2019 championship record away from him with a clinical display of front-running.

Also at the Leinster Schools, Rhys Keogh (Blackrock College) achieved two new championship records as he pulled off a remarkable sprint double winning both the Junior Boys 100m (11.26s) and 200m (22.92s).

There was quiet the story in the Intermediate Girls 300m Hurdles in Tullamore as Molly Daly (Loretto Kilkenny) broke the championship record that her mother Fiona Norwood had held since 1995. Daly clocked a time of 43.46s to knock over half a second off the time her mother had ran 28 years before.

The Munster Schools Championships took place in An Riocht AC’s track in Castleisland. Amongst the standout performances included that of Ava Rochford (Rice College, Ennis). Rochford represented Ireland at last year’s European U18 Championships and showed her undeniable talent when she soared over the bar achieving a new PB and championship record of 1.80m, which is a B standard for the European U20 Championships in Jerusalem in August.

Also in the field, Andrew Scanlon (St. Declan’s Kilmacthomas) was an impressive winner of the Intermediate Boys Javelin. Scanlon threw a new championship best of 54.70m to win the competition by over ten metres.

On the track Louise O’Mahony (Colaiste Muire, Ennis) produced a dominant performance as she set a new championship best in the Senior Girls 3000m. O’Mahony clocked a time of 9.45.70.

Gabriel Ebo (Midleton CBS) broke the championship record in the Junior Boys 100m, crossing the line in 11.28s.

Athlone played host to the Connacht Schools Championships over two days. Arguably the standout performance from the Westmeath venue was that of Oisín Joyce (Ballinrobe Community School) in the Senior Boys Javelin. Joyce set a new championship best with a mighty throw of 66.00m, a European U20 Championship ‘B’ standard.

Twin brothers David and Stephen Mannion (Seamount Kinvara) made the podium alongside each other taking gold and silver respectively in the Senior Boys 400m. David’s winning time was 50.59s.

Ethan Doherty (Rice College, Westport) won double gold in the Senior Boys 2000m Steeplechase and 5000m. In the 5000m Doherty just edged out fellow Rice College student Padraig Corduff by 0.04s.

Clodagh Gill (St. Mary’s Ballina) continued her progression as she took the Intermediate Girls 3000m title in 11.05.75.

There was also some excellent performances at the Ulster Schools Championships which took place at Antrim Forum. Veronica O’Neill (Thornhill College Derry) impressively won both the Senior Girls 100m Hurdles and 400m Hurdles titles from Lucy McGlynn (Coláiste Cholmcille, Ballyshannon).

In the Senior Boys 400m Hurdles it was European U18 silver medallist Fintan Dewhirst (St. Columba's, Glenties) who took gold in 54.16s.

Jamie Moffat (Bangor Grammar School) who ran a blistering 6.86s indoors last month underlined his potential as he took the Senior Boys 100m crown in 10.92s.

Caolan McFadden (Loretto Milford) who won the national U16 cross country title in Rosapenna last year came out on top in the Intermediate Boys 800m winning in 1.57.11.

There was field event doubles for Adrienne Gallen (St. Columba’s Stranorlor) and Finn O’Neill (Limavady Grammar School). Gallen won the Senior Girls Hammer Throw and Shot Put while O’Neill claimed the Senior Boys Pole Vault and Discus titles.

The provincial championships have certainly whetted the appetite for the All-Ireland Schools Track and Field Championships which take place on Friday June 2nd and Saturday June 3rd in Tullamore.

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