What a brilliant night at Morton Games last night. The last hurrah of the current track as it played host to a pulsating event with a terrific atmosphere, brilliant music and brilliant athletics. After the pre-programme a new Stadium record was set by Jade Barber (USA) in Morton Games’ first ever women’s 100 Hurdles (12.97) and then the finale an unbelievable Morton mile won in a photo finish by Andrew Coscoran (Star of the Sea) from local Clonliffe favourite Cathal Doyle as 6 athletes, including 5 Irish, went sub 4. In between the stadium paid witness to some breathtaking performances, another Stadium record and an Irish U/23 record.
Morton Games delivered something special, the event theme of Santry Night Fever raised things to a new level with a brilliant DJ focusing on the Bee Gees and 70s music getting the crowd and the athletes pumped up, a smoke machine for the Morton milers introduction, a confetti cannon and for the 1st time in Morton Stadium the crowd on the track for the final 2 events.
Weather wise it was a mixed bag but with the wind favourable it led to fast racing, despite the showers later in the evening.
The pre-programme got the proceedings off to an excellent start, the 1st race of the night was the junior women’s mile (sponsored by the Jerry Kiernan Foundation) where Ava O’Connor ran the opposition ragged winning in a time of 4.58.01. . The junior men’s mile (sponsored by the Staff Relay Series) was a much closer affair, in the end the plaudits went to Cathal O’Reilly (K CH) in a time of 4.20.67. Next up were the heats of the 100 to sort out the 8 starters for the final, heat number 1 was won by in 10.67 by Bismark Boateng (CAN) appearing in his 4th Morton Games, possibly a record number of appearances while heat number 2 went to Israel Olatunde (UCD) in 10.45. The inter-varsity mixed 4 x 400 relay saw the guesting Irish U/20 squad of Robert Byrne, Kate O’Connell, Jakob Hamilton and Lucy McGlynn win in a time of 3.31.37, somewhat short of the target time., 1st of the varsity teams was NUIG. Then we had the always extremely entertaining juvenile interclub 16 x 100 (+8 m) – mile, relay. A brilliant fun event saw the young athletes have the time of their lives as Clonliffe Harriers ‘black’ took the win in a time of 3.43.38, well clear of Lusk AC, 4.00.80 and Celtic DCH 4.03.98.
At 7 PM the MC introduced the international programme welcoming all to Morton Stadium. As the music was pumped up there was the formal introduction of the competitors in the women’s high jump and men’s javelin with the athletes all enjoying their moment in the spotlight. The Sport Endorse women’s 100 hurdles was the 1st of the international track events and with the wind conditions favorable a hush fell across the filling main stand, from the starters gun Sarah Lavin and Jade Barber blasted out of the blocks neck and neck. It looked like it was going to be Lavin’s night but her trailing leg caught the 2nd from last hurdle and with the American flying over the hurdles she took the win as the clock stopped at 12.97. A fantastic sub- 13 for Barber, and a new stadium record behind in 2nd place Lavin in 13.10 with Jess Hunter (GBR) – 13.36, 3rd.
The shot put competitors were then introduced again trackside and all of the athletes getting into the whole spirit of the event with, not unexpectedly it must be said, Nick Ponzio (ITA) milking the applause.
On track the gun went to the start of the Fashionflo women’s 100, the athletes tearing down the track led home by Kiara Parker (USA) who crossed the line in 11.39, Australia’s Kristie Edwards was 2nd in 11.65 with Alannah Fashanu (GBR) 3rd, 11.69.
Before the introduction of the competitors in the Athletics Leinster men’s 100 another magic moment as the DJ got the entire stand on their feet for YMCA with all joining in and believe it or not Karia Parker joining him on the track dancing away. It was not only a first for Morton Games but a first for Kiara to dance on the track at a meet.
The men then blasted out of the blocks for another brilliant race as Andrew Robertson (GBR) was fastest clocking an excellent 10.22 to take the win with Israel Olantune (IRL) 2nd in a new U/23 record of 10.26 with our Morton regular Bismark Boateng (CAN) filling the final podium place in 10.42.
An update from the commentary on the men’s shot put revealed yet another moment of magic as Nick Ponzio set a new Morton Stadium record of 20.98
The 400 races were next firstly with the Bon Secours Hospital Dublin Women’s 400 where national champion Sophie Becker (IRL/Raheny) did not disappoint taking the 1st Irish win of the international programme in a time of 52.69 , 2nd was Cliodhna Manning (IRL/KCH) 53.77 with Kendall Baisden (USA) 54.47 in 3rd place. In the Loki men’s 400 Jack Raftery (IRL/Donore) with a conservative opening 200 powered round the final bend overhauling the opposition to take a fine win in a time of 47.04. Marcus Lawler (RL/Clonliffe) was 2nd 47.48 and Maarten Heyden (BEL) 3rd 47.93
With the rain continuing to come down the WB Yeats Water high jump came to a conclusion with Sommer Lecky (IRL/Finn Valley) winning with a best of 1.80m and behind her a 4 way tie for 2nd place at 1.75m!
The conditions did not suit the javelin throwers in the Last Lap Cafe Javelin at all but still 1st time visitor Tom Meier (GER) put a fine series together winning with a best of 70.59, Lars Timmerman – Jetten could not complete his Morton 3 in a row wins, 2nd with a best of 68.50 and Joe Dunderdale (GBR) 3rd 66.98.
In the men’s shot (sponsored by Athletics Ireland) Ponzio took the win with his Stadium record throw of 20.98, Eric Favors (IRL/Raheny) 2nd 19.57 and Andrew Liskowitz (USA) 3rd 19.26.
Sarah Healy was the star attraction in the Decathlon Women’s mile, but would face stiff opposition including Oregon bound Lizzy Bird (GBR), Anna Gibson (USA) and Hannah Nuttal (GBR) who on her last visit to Ireland took European Cross gold in the mixed relay in Abbotstown. Healy bravely took to the front when the pacer was gone but couldn’t hold off Bird’s steeple chase strength as the British athlete took first in 4.30.67 from Healy 4.31.50 and Nouttal 3rd 4.33.42.
A couple of excellent 800 race followed, in the DCU men’s 800 Kyle Langford (GBR) justified his favourite tag in his final race before travelling to the World Championships taking his 3rd Morton 800 in succession in a pacey, in the circumstances, 1.46.81, he was chased hard to the line by Kye Perrott (AUS), 1.47.16 with Ben Greenwood (GBR) 3rd, 1.47.93. The Dublin Marathon Women’s 800 was again another great race, once again the weather conditions conspired against a particularly fast race but instead the increasingly excited crowd were treated to a race and a half. Down the back straight it was Kendra Chambers (USA) who was 1st to show, she was then overhauled as Izzy Boffey (GBR) looking like she was going to take things, down the home straight there was a reshuffle, would it be national champion Louise Shanahan? Boffey, however, had other ideas and making space for herself powered away to win in 2.03.22.
The Morton Stadium crowd were then invited to the on track fan cheer zone as the Albie Thomas men’s 5000 (sponsored by the Albie Thomas family and the Dublin Athletics Board) got underway. Some brilliant pacemaking by the Pacers took the race to 3000 in 8.01, Efrem Gidey (IRL/Clonliffe) led the field by a widening gap which at one stage was all of 40m he still held that lead as he took the bell roared on by the crowd, but just like in the Tour de France it was the chasing peloton that held the advantage and he was overhauled with less than 300 to go, it was Jackson Sharp (AUS), coached by Clonliffe’s Mick Byrne, who bolted into the lead to win the Albie Thomas shattering his PB by over 10 seconds in a time of 13.33.77 2nd place went to Eric Speakman (NZL) 13.35.45 with Jack Rowe (GBR) 3rd 13.36.36, with Gidey finishing 5th in a PB of 13.44.59.
Then the iconic Morton mile (sponsored by Behan and Associate & Commercial Hygiene Services). A great introduction of the milers saw them run through a haze of smoke (produced by smoke machine of course!) one at a time until all 15, including pacemakers, toed the line the race got underway to a huge roar. The pacemakers again did exactly as they were asked to do however unfortunately at the bottom bend on lap 2 there was a coming together with 3 athletes hitting the ground hard. Upfront the race continued taking the bell in just a shade under 3 minutes. A battle royal ensued, impossible to call, coming down the home straight it was Cathal Doyle wearing the colours of the home team, Clonliffe Harriers who had it. Andrew Coscoran was never going to yield and both athletes where neck and neck roared to the line, it was still Doyle’s but a desperate lunge by Coscoran paid off as he won the Morton mile on a photo finish, these 2 separated by two hundreds of a second. Coscoran 1st – 3.57.09, Doyle 2nd – 3.57.11, Darragh McElhinney 3rd – 3.58.15, Shane Bracken 4th – 3.58.28, Callum Davies (AUS) 5th 3.58.36, Nick Griggs 6th – 3.58.51. 6 sub fours in the Morton mile and 5 of those Irish, a record number of Irish sub fours in the same race. The running total on sub 4 miles in the Morton mile is now 155. Coscoran having become the 150th. Coscoran was also the first Irish winner of the Morton Mile since James Nolan some 18 years ago.
That brought the curtain down on what was an acclaimed night of athletics and a brilliant nights entertainment all round. It was a night that had all and one that will live long in the memory. Morton Games had truly delivered Santry Night Fever.
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