The Clonliffe junior men put in top notch performances at Saturday`s European clubs junior track and field in Leira, Portugal (Sept. 15th) with hisory being made as Clonliffe athletes Aaron Hanlon and Ian Guiden became the first athletes to win European clubs races in the Clonliffe colours. The championships took place under the searing sun with temperatures rising to 35 C in the afternoon as the Clonliffe junior men finished the day in a credible joint 6th.
A long hot day began with the opening ceremony with the athletes marching into the Estadio Dr. Megalhaes Pessoa, a three sided bowl with a 25,000 capacity (not quite full today, mind you!). First men into the fray was Simon Galligan in the hammer circle, a good opening throw soon steadied the nerves and at the conclusion of the competition Simon finished a solid 4th (50.23m) Team captain Andrew Heney also put in a good early morning shift in the high jump coming in at 1.89 and with a best of 1.93 finished 3rd.
First on the track was Eoin Power in the 400H, another most competent performance saw him finish 4th in 56.89 and then Liam Ashton in the 800 as the heat began to rise, after a fast opening lap Liam worked himself into a good possition to finsh a solid 5th in 2.05.82. Keith Pike was next in scorching down the track in the 100m, an excellent run to finish 3rd (11.23). Fintan Doherty then stepped into the unknown as he took on the 400m (Fintan is more a middle distance) again the man in the black and amber stood up to be counted finishing 6th in 54.35.
After the lunch break the first race was the 3,000 sc. In this one Eoin McCullough ran the best race of his career to date. The heat was something else as he set off on this the toughest of track races and almost came a cropper at the first barrier as he took a heavy fall taking the skin off both knees, with a shake of the head he was up in an instant, composed himself and was back into the lead pack. As the laps were reeled off he suffered a lot in the heat and at the bell had drifted a few yards off 3rd place and then he hit back putting in a lung bursting effort over the final 300 to take the 3rd placed athlete and get right up with the 2nd running shoulder to shoulder missed out on 2nd by maybe an inch. A fantastic performance which earned him the bravery title from his club mates. Eoin`s time 10.28.4.
Things did not go so well, however, in the afternoon for our field eventers: Daniel Doran was 6th in the long jump (5.83m) and 7th in the triple jump (11.28), Safari Aketch was 8th in both shot (9.36) and discus (27.54), Ryan Whelan was 7th in the javelin (48.43).
Back on the track Josh Essuman ran well in the 110h placing 6th (16.16). Then to the 1500 and 3000 where good things were hoped for. First off Aaron Hanlon in the 1500, as always Aaron hit the front from the gun winding up the pace until only two athletes clung grimly to his tail, another quick injection of pace at 500 to go and they were gone. Aaron powering home (4.10.43) and enjoying the last 100 to become Clonliffe`s first European clubs track and field winner. Next up was Stuart Roche in the 200, a very good run from the Clonliffe man of 23.46 placed him 5th. The final Clonliffe athlete to see action was Ian Guiden, who had waited patiently for some 9 and a half hours for his moment, in the 3,000m. Ian sat in 2nd place for the opening laps but finding the pace far too slow hit the front after three and a bit laps quickly opening a five meter lead that grew and grew as he drove on. At the finish winning by the length of the straight (9.04.82) and Clonliffe had another European clubs winner.
On went the roller coaster: for every high there`s a low! Our lows on the day were in the relays. In the 4 x 100 (Josh Essuman, Stuart Roche, Conor Byrne, Keith Pike) at the final change over the guys were in 3rd place and then disaster, a batton fumble and we`re finshing 7th. Whilst no fumbles in the 4 x 400 (Eoin power, Aaron Hanlon, Fintan Doherty, Liam Ashton) likewise no cigar as the guys were out ran to again finish 7th.
In the end the team placed joint 6th with Swiss team St. Bern on 71 points only 2 points off 5th but a long way behind champions Tampereen Pyrinto (FIN) on 102 points. It was an extreamly worth while excerise for the team with excellent performances in what is an out of season competition for the guys: 2 wins, 3 thirds and a wealth of experience gained. It must also be said that the way these Clonliffe men carried themselves both on and off the field of competition was simply superb, they were truely wonderful ambassadors for their club, their country and our sport.