Silver and Bronze for Clonliffe at National League

It was very much a day of mixed emotions at the national track and field league finals in Tullamore yesterday, August 13. Both teams were competing in the Premier division final, the women’s team captured bronze, the team’s best ever showing in the Premier division whilst the men’s team were disappointed to relinquish the Premier title which had been held since 2015, as the team lost out to Leevale AC finishing runner-up.

The women’s team performed superbly. The team has been considerably strengthened with the addition of Jessica Tappin to the team, Jess is a top-class athlete who gave everything for the cause yesterday. The tempo for the day was set from the off as Jess won the 100 hurdles in a time of 14.02, this was a new club record replacing Paula Carthy’s 1990 record of 14.67. This was also Jess’s 3rd club record set in recent weeks. Next it was the 400 hurdles were again maximum points for the cause were gathered by Jess as she won a time of 58.58, in between she finished 2nd in the shot put with a best of 11.30.

Leah Bergin also contributed maximum points with a brilliant run in the 400 winning in an excellent 55.44, this was particularly impressive in the swirling windy conditions at the time of the race. National javelin champion Grace Casey also threw in maximum points winning the javelin with a best of 42.20.

The rest of the team were suitably inspired, Aisling Killelea in particular in the 1500 walk where she race brilliantly to finish in 2nd place in a time of 9.19.63. Clodagh Dunbar ran a 200 PB of 25.61 to take 4th place, also placing 4th and similarly running a PB was Orna McGinley in the 3000 (10.33.18). The 4 x 100 relay team of Anna Heavey, Lauren Carr, Sarah McDonnell and Ava Usonova also placed 4th in a time of 50.55. 4th place also for another of the young athletes in the team and in a totally unfamiliar event, the 2000 steeplechase, Sorcha O’Connor (9.02.81). Sarah Bateson ran a gutsy 1500 placing 5th in 4.49.39 and another of the ‘youngsters’ Hazel Kenny placed 6th in the 800 (2.35.14).

In the field events Snezana Bechtina was again a major component of the team as she placed 2nd in the pole vault with a best of 1.90 and then 5th in the triple jump (9.41). Anna Heavey added significant points by placing 3rd in the WFD (5.21). There was 5th place also for Kate Connell in the hammer (13.97) and for Edel Maguire in the high jump (1.35) and 5th place also for the club’s wonderful women’s captain Jenny Johnston in the discus (26.01).

That brought everything down to the final event of the day, the 4 x 400 relay. On a cumulative point basis the women’s team were sitting in 2nd place however that was on the basis of all 20 events to date but for the purpose of the league it is a team’s best 17 that count. The mathematicians at this point had the Clonliffe team in 4th place but a win in the final event would move the team into 3rd. Nothing else would do. Anna Heavey led the team off running a particularly strong final 100 to get the team into a fighting position, Clodagh Dunbar ran her usual gusty race in the 2nd leg handing over to Leah Bergin in 3rd position but with a gap of possibly 30m plus, Leah made great inroads into that lead and handed over to Jess Tappin giving Jess a fighting chance, down the back straight Jess had made up the difference and she blasted into the lead coming off the top end to take the team home in 1st place in a time of 3.51.70.

That was it – superb team bronze! 1st DSD, 2nd Leevale AC, 3rd Clonliffe Harriers.

From the men’s team’s perspective things were a little different, the team were going for an 8th Premier league title in a row, and with that goal anything other than a win was going to hurt. With Leevale AC having a very strong squad the team was always going to be up against it, particularly having suffered some injuries in recent weeks and indeed on the day of the competition itself. Still the team put up a stout defence and gave it everything they had yesterday.

There were particularly strong performances from the clubs throwers all of whom put in brilliant shifts. Eoin Sheridan contributed maximum points winning the discus (52.87) and the shot (14.63). Simon Galligan likewise won the hammer with a best of 62.76 and was 5th in the WFD (5.49). Rory Gunning who has been injured all year turned out in the javelin using a walking throw technique except for one throw which proved to be crucial as it was the winning throw of 50.92.

On the track Brian Gregan also gave his best for the cause winning the 400 in 47.91. Marcus Lawler now thankfully recovered from injury opened his season yesterday, he was 2nd in the 200 (21.22) and also made a substantial contribution to the 4 x 100 relay team of Keith Pike, Pascal Touche, Craig Duffy with Marcus on the anchor leg as the team finished 2nd in 41.93. Keith Pike was 2nd in the 100 (11.01). 2nd places also on the track for Greg Hossenny in the 1500 race walk (7.57.36) and Stephen Cashin in the 5000 (15.18.12). In the 800 JD Kelly was 3rd (1.59.61), Fintan Kerins 5th in the 1500 (4.12.57), Niall Carbery 3rd in the 3000 SC (10.25.72) and the 4 x 400 relay team of Jonny Fitzsimons, Conor Wilson, Jarlath Jordan and JD Kelly were 4th (3.26.63).

Rolus Olusa as always in the league made a huge contribution finishing 2nd in the 110 H (15.19), 2nd in the pole vault (3.60) and 4th in the high jump (1.80). Pascal also made a very substantial contribution, in addition to the 4 x 100 relay he was 2nd in the triple jump (12.65) and 4th in the long jump (6.31).

Although on a cumulative points basis the men’s team topped the standings when the best 17 results only were counted the team ended up finishing 2nd behind Leevale AC, the last team other than Clonliffe to win the league back in 2014.

Finally, with the curtain now brought down on the track and field season, both captains, Noel Guiden and Jenny Johnston, would like to thank sincerely the club’s athletes for their commitment to the league campaign over the course of the summer and to thank the club’s coaches for their support throughout. Enjoy the break but guess what’s waiting just around the corner – cross country!