Tokyo quests continue as young sprint stars shine


Morton Stadium was witness to a host of brilliant performances on a day of celebration as 400 spectators returned for the 2021 Irish Life Health National Track and Field Championships.

Serval Tokyo bound athlete treated fans to some brilliant performances in difficult conditions, while those in attendance were also witness to the young stars of Irish sprinting claiming their first senior titles.

  • Thomas Barr makes it nine national titles
  • Michele Finn claims fourth successive title
  • Healy seals title number thirteen
  • Rhasidat Adeleke and Israel Olatunde win first senior titles
  • Andrew Coscoran and Sarah Healy continue road to Tokyo qualification

Thomas Barr claimed his 9th national title in taking the Men’s 400m in a winning time of 50.66. The blustery conditions were never going to be ideal for hurdling, but Barr powered up the home straight to give the spectators in attendance one last chance to witness the Ferrybank AC athlete in domestic action.

There were first national senior medals for the hurdling stars of the future in St Laurence O’Toole pair of Jack Mitchell (52.03) and Alan Miley (53.24). Both athletes ran ultra-controlled races and keep chasing Barr all the way to the line in what were never going to be PB conditions.

Kelly McGrory (Tír Chonaill A.C.) left everything on the track to claim gold in the Women’s 400m Hurdles final. The Tír Chonaill athlete was neck and neck with Deirdre Murray of Na Fianna (1.00.31) coming around the final bend in one of the races of the day but found more on landing over the last hurdle to cross the line in first place in a personal best time of 59.41. Karen Dunne (Bohermeen A.C.) of Bohermeen was clear in 3rd in 1:02.63.

Tokyo bound Michelle Finn (Leevale AC) posted another impressive performance as she signs off from domestic competition with a national title. Finn was joined by Eilish Flanagan (Carmen Runners AC) at the front of the race with the two athletes opening a sizable gap on the field through the first 2,000m. Finn turned on the afterburners to power clear over the final two laps to come home in a time of 9.36.94. (Finn would go on to finish 4th in the Women’s 1500m later in the evening). Eilish Flanagan stuck on bravely to try chase down Finn, crossing the line in 9.46.52. Rio Olympian Kerry O'Flaherty (Newcastle and District AC) was third in 10.40.87.

Brian Fay (Raheny Shamrock A.C.) whose 4th on the Irish all-time list took command of the Men’s 3000m Steeplechase to finish in 8:52.88. Finley Daly (Sligo A.C.) produced a European U23-A standard performance when it mattered to come home for silver in 8:56.57. Adam Kirk Smith takes the bronze medal back to Derry Track Club with a 9:05.51.

The sprints events were all about the young stars of Irish athletics. Rhasidat Adeleke (Tallaght AC) claimed a PB 11.29 (2.6 m/s) on her return from Texas University. Phil Healy’c current Irish 100m record stands at 11.28 and 19-year old Adeleke is sure to threaten the time again given the right conditions. Adeleke will be back in action for the 200m tomorrow where she’ll be looking to chase down the Olympic standard.  

Molly Scott (St. L. O'Toole A.C.) flew out of the blocks in her trademark fast start. Scott ran hard to the line only to be reeled in by Adeleke in the final 20 meters for 11.46. Aoife Lynch (Donore Harriers) backed up her U23 sprint double from last weekend with a senior bronze medal in 11.69.

In the men’s division Israel Olatunde (UCD AC) exploded out of the blocks to clock a massive PB of 10.49 to claim his first national senior title. The UCD athlete who is coached by Daniel Kilgallon has had a record breaking 2021 already, breaking the U20 and U23 60m indoor records.  Defending champion Stephen Gaffney (Rathfarnham W.S.A.F. A.C.) went out on his shield, pushing Olatunde all the way to the line in 10.50 to claim the silver. Conor Morey (Leevale AC) secured bronze in a blanket finish in 10.61.

The Women’s 800m division has been on fire over the last 12 months and with Olympic qualification on the line, it was no surprise that the athletes involved served up the finish of the day with Louise Shanahan (Leevale AC), Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Dundrum South Dublin AC) and Georgie Hartigan (Dundrum South Dublin AC) all clocking 2.03 in a blanket finish.

Shanahan backed herself with an inside run up the home straight to finish in a winning time of 2.03.62 having been slightly hampered 200 meters out. Buttner claimed silver, with clubmate Hartigan the bronze on the dip for the line.

The Men’s 800 athletes were not to be outdone and also provided us with a race to saviour. Luke McCann (UCD AC) ran a brave race to make almost all of the running, before being hunted down by Kildare’s John Fitzsimons who claimed his first national title in 1:49.48. Fitzsimons (Kildare AC) had come into this weekend in flying form following a PB performance in Belfast which came on the back of a disrupted 2020 through injury. Cillian Kirwan added to the Raheny Shamrock medal haul, crossing the line in 1:49.67 for bronze.

Phil Healy showed her class in going well clear in the finish of the Women’s 400m to add yet another senior title, this time over the one lap distance in 52.33. The Bandon AC athlete looked strong and controlled as she managed the increasingly strong back straight wind to ease into a commanding lead coming down the home straight. Cliodhna Manning (Kilkenny City Harriers AC) chased Healy home for silver in 53.18, with Catherine McManus (Dublin City Harriers AC) taking bronze in 54.36.

There was disappointment for Sharlene Mawsdley (Newport AC) who had to pull up with an injury coming into the home straight. Mawdsley was a key member of the 4 x 400m mixed relay team to earn Olympic qualification.

Cillin Grenne (Galway City Harriers AC) denied Christopher O’Donnell (North Sligo AC) the four in a row with a huge performance in the Men’s 400m. Green and O’Donnell settled down to fight it out coming down the home straight, with the Galway athlete getting closer with every step to eventually take it in a dramatic dip at the line in 46.38. Green’s clubmate Robert McDonnell continues to impress and the young Galway City Harriers AC athlete claimed the bronze in 47.19.

Sarah Healy (UCD AC) claimed her first senior outdoor 1500m title with a performance the belied her years in a tactical national final which strengthened her Olympic qualification hopes. Healy took up the running and was joined in a breakaway trio which included the class of Nadia Power (Dublin City Harriers AC) and Roisin Flanagan (Carmen Runners AC). The UCD athlete ran from the front and injected a 30 second final 200m finish to secure gold in 4:15.08. Nadia Power (4.18.34) and Roisin Flanagan (4.18.99) fought to the line with Power coming out on top in the battle for silver.

The Men’s 1500 proved just as tactical with the field bunching up as athletes jostled for position. Andrew Coscoran (Star of the Sea), who’s still on the journey to Olympic qualification decided to dictate the race from the bell and the move saw the bunched field quickly stretched out. Kevin Kelly (St Cocas) was first to challenge Coscoran for the lead halfway down the back straight and led briefly before Coscoran stormed back to claim his first senior 1500 title in 3:48.89. Cathal Doyle (Clonliffe Harriers AC) ran a patient race and was fastest finishing, crossing in 3:48.96 for silver. Kevin Kelly left nothing out there and crossed in 3:49.40 for a brave 3rd place.

The 5,000m was a burn up from the start with training partners Seán Tobin (Clonmel AC) and Hiko Tonosa (Dundrum South Dublin) dualling it out from the gun. Tobin upped the pace with 800m to go but Tonosa stuck to his heels and made a decisive move of his own 300m out to regain the title he won in 2019 (13.52.52).  Neil Johnston of Annadale Striders was third in 14:21.91.

Aoife Kilgallon (Sligo AC) took the 5,000m title with an impressive performance which saw her cross the line in 16.16.85. Kilgallon came into the final as the likely favourite having posted a 16.11.67 PB in May and left nothing to chance as she stormed clear to take gold. Meghan Ryan claimed the silver medal for Dundrum South Dublin A.C. in 16:24.31, while Nakita Burke of Letterkenny A.C. secured bronze in 16:26.83.

The Women’s 3,000m Junior title went the way of Holly Brennan (Cillies AC) who ran solo from the front to come home in 10.06.85. Lucy Holms (West Waterford AC) claimed silver in 10:24.71 with Aoife Coffey (Lucan Harriers AC) third in 10:33.68.

Nick Griggs won the Junior Men’s 3,000 with a powerful a powerful performance. The Mis Ulster AC athlete powered clear and had time to acknowledge his supporters as he entered the home straight to cross the line in 8.11.15. Dean Casey (Ennis Track AC) and Abdel Laadjel (Donore Harriers) battled it out for the remaining podium places, with Casey crossing the line two seconds ahead of the Donore Harriers athlete.

There was also action aplenty in the field events with Niamh Fogarty (Raheny Shamrock) claiming gold with PB throw of 53.73 in the Discus. Casey Mulvey (Inny Vale A.C.) continued her great 2021 with a 45.18 throw, while Anna Galvigan (LSA) took home the bronze medal with 41.31.

The Men’s Hammer saw a brilliant battle for gold with Colin Quirke (Crusaders A.C.) taking the honours with a 54.84 throw. Eoin Sheridan (Clonliffe Harriers A.C.) pushed Quirke all the way to claim silver with a best throw of 54.55. The bronze went to Padraig Hore of D.M.P. A.C. with 46.05m.

The Women’s Long Jump was witness to an impressive round of jumping from Saragh Buggy (St Abbans AC) who threatened 6m on several attempts. Buggy’s best jump did manage to break the 6m mark in style, with her 4th jump of 6.12 enough to claim the gold. St Abbans also secured the silver medal with Ruby Millet who followed up her recent first-place finish at the AAI Games to finish with a best of 5.92m. Laura Frawley won bronze in dramatic fashion, saving her best jump for her last attempt of the day to secure third place in 5.82m (0.01 back to Sarah McCarthy in 4th).  

The Men’s High Jump saw Ciaran Connolly (Le Cheile AC) match his seasons best with a 2.05m jump to claim his first senior title. Geoffrey Joy O`Regan of Sun Hill Harriers AC matched the 2.05m clearance for silver based on Connolly’s first attempt clearance. David Cussen (Old Abbey) takes home the bronze medal, clearing 2.00m.

The cold day wouldn’t have suited the Pole Vaulters but it didn’t stop 3 athletes all clearing 4.30m. Young Conor Callinan (Leevale AC) secured his first senior titleat 16 years of age with 4.40m cleared. Michael Bowler was second and also cleared 4.40. Shane Power (St. Joseph's AC) was in contention throughout and bowed out at 4.30 for bronze.

Nineteen athletes took to the runway for the Men’s Long Jump where Adam McMullen (Crusaders) claimed the gold with a 7.51. Much like the vaulters, the long jump athletes had to content with deteriorating conditions as the competition progressed.  Sam Healy (Leevale AC) took bronze with a 7.50m jump, while Shane Howard (Bandon) secured bronze in 7.43.

The WFH titles went the way of Sean Breathnach (Galway City Harriers) and Zoe Mohan (Cushinstown A.C.) who claimed a 6.98 CBP.

The Women's 4 x 100m relay title went to the Dundrum South Dublin team of  Molly Hourihan, Mollie O`Reilly, Charlotte Bourke, and Kate Doherty in 47.57, while the mens title went to Leevale's team of Conor Morey, Colin Doyle, Sam Healy, and
Ciaran Dee in 42.42.

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