2021 All Ireland Seniors T+F

June, 2021 Santry

CLIODHNA BACK IN FORM SHANE VAULTS TO BRONZE

Another weekend of exciting athletic competitions for athletes in Kilkenny. Starting with Friday night and the first of three days of the National Senior Track and Field held in Santry, Dublin. More local to us here in Kilkenny was the 4th days of the County Track and Field Championships.

Olympic Games comes around once every four years – or so it should. From time to time anomalies occur. It’s extremely rare for the Summer or Winter Olympics to be postponed or cancelled. Since the inception of the modern Olympic Games in 1896, it has happened only six times—and it usually requires a war. The postponement of 2020 Olympic Games marks the first time that competition has ever been postponed or cancelled for an act other than war. With July 2021 now the rescheduled date, it has meant that the entire indoor and outdoor track season has been a blitz of excitement as athlete after athlete chase down those elusive qualifying standards.

One local athlete to be part of that group chasing Olympic dreams was KCH athlete Cliodhna Manning. Former national senior 400m champion Cliodhna has had a few years of injury, corrective surgery on her foot saw her return to running last year during the first lockdown. She used the lockdown to build up her stamina, strength and above all fitness. Upon return to competition this year she has been steadily improving, all the time chipping away at her 400m time. Winning the AAI games two weeks ago gave her a much needed boost. Cliodhna came into these championships knowing her form had returned.

Easily winning her heat of Friday night, she came into the final confident she could pull off a podium finish. Up against Bandon’s Phil Healy, was going to prove a tough challenge. Phil is currently ranked in 48th place on the world ranking list. With the 400m race capped at 48 places, she is just inside that qualifying margin. The mixed 4 x 400m relay has already qualified for the Olympics and Cliodhna had her eye on one of those two slots on the relay. For the first 300m Cliodhna had a slight edge of Healy, however at the 300m mark, Healy moved up a gear and while Cliodhna responded well, Healy powered down the home straight to win in 52.33 – gaining more valuable ranking points for Tokyo. Cliodhna clocked 53.18 to clinch the silver medal and over a second ahead of DCH athlete Catherine McManus. Cliodhan Manning was officially back in form.

Shane Power (St Josephs) has been a regular medalist at National Championships and last weekend was no exception. Competing in the Pole Vault, Power was once again up against old time rival Conor Callinan of Leevale and Michael Bowler (Enniscorthy). Pole Vaulters are one of those track and field groups that have been greatly affected by the strict regime of lockdown. Having access to a track with specialist vaulting equipment became impossible under the lockdown rules. This forced athlete’s like Shane to abandon the usual winter and spring programme. With no vaulting access, Shane and his peers had to rely on strength and conditioning and sprinting only. Boosting a PB from 2020 of 4.55 Shane like the other competitions have been taking every opportunity to practice their vaults and get right back to where they were last year. Conditions were windy on Saturday, making vaulting a little more complex. At 4m 30cm four athletes cleared the height. Despite having cleared 4.40 several times this season, Shane did not clear it this time, leaving Conor Callinan and Michael Bower to battle it out for gold and silver. Shane did secure the bronze ahead of Carlow athlete Matthew Callinan- Keenan.

Bronagh Kearns (St Senans) competed with the best in the 1,500m final. In a race that saw her mingle with Olympic hopefuls like Nadia Power, Roisin Flanagan, Michelle Finn and Sarah Healy, Bronagh did very well to finish 7th. She was in the front group for the first two laps until Healy, Power and Flanagan broke away. As lap three progressed that chasing pack narrowed. Crossing the line in 7th place Bronagh not only had her first ever National Track and Field 1,500m final but she beat very well established Irish internationals in the process.

In the men’s 1,500m Eoin Everard (KCH) once more lined up for another big national final. Somewhat the elder statesman at 35, Everard is no stranger to national finals. Unusually a the race commenced with a false start, something normally associated with the sprinting events – an anxious reaction from some of the bigger names like Andrew Coscorcan and Cathal Doyle. The slow pace of the first two laps played right into the hands of the fastest man in the field Andrew Coscoran – with Everard back in 9th place at this stage.  With the pace slower the athletes were very bunched together – making a move to the front difficult. With 600m to go the pace quickened and Everard moved into 4th place. With the bell – Eoin then moved into 3rd place only to slip back into 7th with 200m to go. Eoin passed Michael Power of West Waterford down the home straight to take 6th.

Other athletes to take part in the Nationals over the weekend were Sophie Jackman (St Senans) 800m, Jack Manning (KCH) in the 400m and 200m, Ciara Deely (KCH) 800m, Gerry Forde (KCH) 10,000, Michael Sheering (BR) – Discus, Cathal O’Rielly – Junior 3,000m,

Results:

Men: Pole Vault: 3 Shane Power (SJ) 1,500m 6 Eoin Everard (KCH), 10,000 9 Gerry Forde (KCH), Discus 12 Michael Sheerin (BR) Junior 3,000m 7 Cathal O’Rielly (KCH), Jack Manning 200m and 400m.

Ladies: 400m 2 Cliodhna Manning (KCH), 1,500m 7 Bronagh Kearns (SS) 800m Sophie Jackman (SS) Ciara Deely (KCH)

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