2021 AAI Games

June, 2021 Santry


With the count-down to the Tokyo Olympics well underway and the European u23 and juniors fast approaching, the Athletics Ireland Games attracted a large number of elite athletes – all chasing those important points and qualifying times. There was some star studded performances last Saturday and Sunday and many of them from our county Kilkenny athletes too.

It was a very different Morton Stadium in Santry that greeted the athletes. No spectators except the few parents that accompanied the handful of u18s that competed. There was no gathering of athletes on a large scale. Gone was that buzz and hum that one associates with a major competition of this level. It was by all accounts a representation of what we now call the “new normal”. Everyone wore masks, kept their distance and went about the day in an incredibly ordered manner.

None the less the competition itself was just as exciting as the days of old. Athlete pitted against athlete, all trying their best to outdo each other, chase down those times or distances. It was athletics at its best.

Cloidhna Manning (KCH) ran a superb race to win the ladies 400m – amassing a PB in the process, 53.07 seconds to be exact. Prior to the pandemic Cliodha had an ongoing foot injury that necessitated a surgical remedy. Rehab and lockdown training gave Cliodhna that much needed opportunity to build up her speed and to a certain extent catch up the missed years of injury. Last Sunday she the former national 400m champion looked every bit her former self as she powered down the home straight ahead of Catherine McManus (DCH) and Grainne Moynihan (West Muskerry AC). Brother Jack produced a PB in the 200m finishing in a time of 21.98 and went on to clock 49.44 in the 400m a day later. Also competing in the 400m was Junior athlete Jordan Knight of St Josephs AC. Jordan is currently on the National 4x 400m relay squad and will be facing final selection at next weekend’s National Junior championships. In winning heat 3 Jordan clocked a time of 50.19 a new PB – just what this leaving cert student needs ahead of next weekend. The training is all going in the right direction.

The pole vault has always been an exciting competition to watch, be it the world elite dual between Sweden’s Amand Duplantis and France’s Renaud Lavillenie or indeed our own Shane Power (St Josephs) and Matthew Callinan Keenan of St Laurence O’ Tooles in Carlow. Shane has come out on top on the last two occasions. However last Sunday it was the turn of Callinan Keenan to take the top honours with a vault of 4.45m. Shane repeated the same height he has been regularly attaining 4.40m.

St Senans AC u18 athlete Peter McDonald finished 3rd in the men’s Javelin with a throw of 48.92 improving on his throw in the National Juniors last year. The men’s javelin has a steady group of enthusiastic athletes – a bubble of genuine enthusiasts who all motivate and encourage each other. This includes the Kilkenny Carlow RDO Shane Aston. Shane himself was competing in the Decathlon over the weekend finishing in 2nd place with wins in both the 110m hurdles and javelin.

There were three Kilkenny competitors in the men’s 1,500m from Kilkenny – all of them Juniors. Competing in Heat 2 David Williams (St Senans) and Tom Lodge (KCH) battled it out with the best of their time category. Williams competing in his first 1,500m since 2019 came out the better of the two of this occasion, as he produced a storming last 200m to pass 6 athletes. In Heat 3 the much improved Gearoid Long (St Senans) also produced a PB.

The ladies 1,500m saw Bronagh Kearns (St Senans) run the race of her life as he was a fast finishing 2nd to Ireland’s elite runner Roisin Flanagan –a  member of the European u23 Cross Country bronze medal winning team. Coming from 4th place with 400m to go Bronagh gradually passed Irish International Masie O’ Sullivan to chase down Flanagan. This is yet another PB for the much improved St Senans athlete. In the same race Sophie Jackman (St Senans) produced her 3rd PB in three weeks over a distance that she is competing in for the first time this year.

Aoife Allen (St Senans) finished 3rd in the Ladies 2,000m steeplechase behind Irish Internationals Eilish O’Flanagan and Kerry O’Flaherty. Not bad company to keep! Similarly Junior Eoin Deely (KCH) was also in good company as he equaled his PB of 2.06 that he had claimed in Belfast a few weeks ago. The race was won by Cillian Kirwan of Raheny in a stunning 1.48.

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