2020 Leinster Star Awards

February, 2020

Each year the Leinster star awards honours those athletes, clubs and officials who have made an indelible impact on the world of Leinster athletics. This year the ceremony took place at the Radisson Blu in Athlone. Swapping athletics gear for the finery of formal attire, the recipients lighted the stage as one by one “County Kilkenny” was called prompting the athletes to receive their respective award.

The awards are calculated on the basis of the athlete’s performances in the Leinster Championships, with a tiered points system in place. This means the more medals you get for your efforts, the more points you accumulate. The system does not discount the single individual performances of other athletes who may only compete at one event. Indeed there are overall awards to cater for this. The system does however favour the more versatile athlete who can compete at multiple events.

Sophie Jackman (St Senans) is one athlete who can compete at both Indoors, Track and Cross Country. Spanning all three categories can often be rare. Sophie won the Leinster award for the best overall female athlete in Kilkenny. She won a string of Leinster medals across jumps, middle distance, hurdles and cross country. In total she won 3 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze medal at the Leinster Championships and 2 individual Cross Country medals. Her speciality being at 800m and 400m Hurdles. Sophie is no stranger to awards as she won the same award last year.

Another athlete who also won an award in 2019 was Jordan Knight (St Joseph’s). In 2020 he retained the Leinster award for the best overall male athlete in Kilkenny. Like Sophie, Jordan is a very versatile athlete, so versatile that he can win medals at the combined events. His tally of medals in the Leinster Championships were 4 gold, 4 silver and 1 bronze. Additionally Jordan broke the Leinster 400m Indoor Record. His speciality is the Long Jump, 400m flat and Long Hurdles. Such is the competition for the star awards amongst Kilkenny athletes, one should note that Jordan had the highest point accumulation of all the star awards from all athletes in Leinster, just one point ahead of Tadgh Connolly (St Senans). These two athletes were over 10 points clear of the next highest point scorer.

The junior/u23 award went to Ciara Deely of KCH. Ciara is a 400m and long hurdles specialist. She won both at the Leinster Seniors. Coming from her superb year in 2018, where she competed in the World Juniors at 400m, Ciara took 2019 to commence her campaign towards the major under 23 championships. In doing so she concentrated on technical build up for her events. Part of this build up included working at both 400m and 400m hurdles. Her two Leinster golds allowed her to test her progression. We should see more action from Ciara this year as she attempts to lower her times for both the hurdles and 400m.

Bob Saunders of St Joseph received the honorary award for his lifetime contribution to athletics in the County. Well known for his electronic oration skills, he has been our long serving MC at many county events. In fact he has close on 50 years involvement in athletics in Kilkenny both as an athlete and an official. Bob joined St Joseph’s AC back in 1970 and competed at many road and cross country events. He served on the Kilkenny County Board from 1981 to 1989 as Chairperson, registrar, track and field secretary and PRO. He was vice Chairman of Athletics Leinster in 1990 and was involved with Athletics Leinster for 12 years. At club level he has held virtually every office on the club committee.

Brow Rangers received the best senior track and field club award in Leinster. The band of throwers can be seen in force at all Leinster events collecting medals of all colours in virtually every throwing event. The group, which is spear headed by Murty and Joe Kelly gets bigger every year. Brow finished on 40 points which was 18 points clear of Mullingar Harriers, Bohermeen and Tullamore Harriers, all very large clubs, that have athletes competing at a variety of events. Contrast this with Brow Rangers, with small membership and who concentrate on the throwing events – this is a phenomenal result. They also made history when they became the first ever Kilkenny club to win this award. The team consisted of Sean Maher Ciaran Coady, John Joe Kelly, Emma Kelly, Patrick Darcy, Aoife Coady and Adam Kelly. Between them they won 4 gold, 3 silver and 4 bronze medals at the Leinster Senior Track and Field.

The Juvenile Cup events proved very successful for Kilkenny clubs, especially for KCH. The city club received the Mick Quinn Cup for the best juvenile under 12 – 15 track and field club, helped to no end by their superb performance and proliferation in the relays. KCH have won numerous gold, silver and bronze medals in both indoor and outdoor relay events. The Quinn cup is no stranger to Kilkenny territory as both KCH and St Senans have won this cup on several occasion going all the way back to the 1980s. Other Kilkenny clubs did well in the Juvenile cups such as St Senans AC, the southern club were joint 3rd in the Mick Quinn Cup and 4th in the Eurotab cup for u16 to 19s. St Josephs AC, Thomastown AC, Gowran AC and Brow Rangers featured strongly in the rankings.

The final award that travelled to our shores was the Cross Country Cup for the best overall county at Cross Country in Leinster. Kilkenny lost this to Meath in 2018, so it was good to see the cup back in Kilkenny based on the results for the 2019 season. As a county we have won this cup multiple times, in fact 5 out of the last 6 years it has been ours.

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