The Clonliffe Harriers men’s team were utterly dominant in Tullamore yesterday to not only successfully retain the national track and field league title but to make it an extraordinary 7 times in succession. This was also the 12th time that the Clonliffe men have won the event, the first of these victories only coming in 2008 meaning that the Clonliffe men have won the event every year since then, bar 2013 and 2014 and of course excluding the 2020 non-year (Covid!).
There were no less than 8 maximum points gathering wins yesterday. This coupled with two second places and five third places sealed what was in the end a fairly comfortable margin of victory.
The day got off to the best possible start with Simon Galligan winning the hammer with a best of 54.83, subsequently Simon also competed in the shot finishing 6th (7.64) then Rolus Olusa won the 110 H in a new PB of 14.89, Rolus also contributed two 3rd place finishes, the triple jump (12.76) and the discus (36.85), the 3rd of the early morning victories came courtesy of the ever dependable Greg Hosseny in the 3000 race walk in a time of 18.58.69. Greg has been an almost ever present in the National League title winning teams, yesterday was his 7th team gold.
Other first places came from Chris Sibanda in the 100 in a time of 10.87 and also a magnificent performance by the 4 x 100 team of Pierce Friel, Keith Pike, Leo Morgan and Chris Sibanda who rewrote the club record books winning in a time of 41.42. The previous record having stood since 2014. Interestingly Keith Pike was also a member of the 2014 team. Maximum points were also contributed by newcomer Fintan Kerins who battled like a warrior in the 800 winning in a new PB of 1.57.79, Jonny Whan, running his 3rd 1500 in 5 days, Jonny also being in a dogfight of a sprint which he took in 3.59.52 and Rory Gunning, still working his way back from injury, but winning the javelin in 49.51, Rory also took in the WFD placing 5th (4.46).
Real gutsy performances also came from Keith Marks, suffering the ill effects of a heavy cold, but still managing to put in his best high jump performance in maybe 10 years to take 3rd place with a best of 1.90, Keith also placed 4th in the long jump (6.63). Likewise from Timmy Crowe, answering his club’s call to take 3rd place in the 400 hurdles (58.70) and from Ian Guiden after a long season finishing 2nd in the 5000 (15.11.87) and after a similar long season young Niall Carbery 2nd and 3000 SC (9.51.12). Clonliffe stallworth David Donegan also answered the call finishing 3rd place in the pole vault with a best of 3.60. Leo Morgan having contributed greatly in the 4 x 100 turned out in his less favoured 200 placing 4th in 22.40. Young James McDonnell gained invaluable experience in the 400 placing 6th (53.77) and then in the final event of a long day and inexperienced 4 x 400 team of Jarlath Jordan, Keith Pike, James McDonnell and JD Kelly battled gamely to 5th place (3.35.79).
The team finished once again on the top of the pile well clear of Leevale AC 2nd and Nenagh Olympic 3rd.
The women’s team have been making huge strides forward in recent times and yesterday captain Jenny Johnston galvanised and invigorated the small squad to a battling 5th place. The team had been hit by a couple of late withdrawals but in true club spirit events were filled by athletes well outside of their comfort zones. Jenny herself played a true captain’s role taking in the 1500 race walk, placing 5th in 9.16.95 and then taking 2nd in the discus (25.81) and 3rd in the javelin (26.85).
Likewise Snezana Bechtina played a huge role, 2nd in the pole vault (1.90), 6th in the triple jump (9.63) and 4th in the 400 H (7.20) . Snezana also played a vital part in both relay teams, the 4 x 100 team (Anna Heavey, Lauren Carr, Leah Bergin and Snezana) were 5th (50.50) and then in possibly the race of the day a magnificent performance by the same quartet in the 4 x 400 saw the team win in a time of 3.59.63. Leah Bergin playing a starring role as she propelled the team from 4th to 1st on the 3rd leg. Leah has been in superb form this season and was rewarded for her hard work by yet another 400 pb are truly excellent 56.05 as she finished 2nd.
Sarah Hawkshaw, a relative novice at this level, ran a huge PB in the 800 breaking the 2.20 barrier as she placed a superb 3rd in a time of 2.19.99! Sarah also rolled up her sleeves and was 7th in the shot (5.95) and 6th WFD (4.05).
In the 1500 Greta Streimyte scored big taking 2nd place in 4.36.82. Sarah Bateson ran an excellent 3000 recording a time a mere few second off her PB as she clocked 10.36.01 to finish 6th in what was a pretty loaded field. Anna Heavey was 7th in the 100 (13.67). Lauren Carr was 6th in the 200 (27.13) and 5th in the high jump (1.40).
The team’s performance over all 3 rounds has been excellent and the team spirit continues to grow. As a fairly small squad the team does suffer greatly from withdrawals but the commitment of the athletes is exemplary and there is no doubt that this team will continue to make great strides forward over the coming season’s.
In all it was a superb day for the club, the highest of praise has to go to our athletes for answering the call and displaying such sheer guts and determination. A huge thank you also to our coaches and to our captains and vice captains.