Saturday 9th July 2016
held at Tullamore Harriers Stadium
The GloHealth Athletics Ireland National Juvenile Relay Championships were held at Tullamore Harriers Stadium last Saturday with over 220 teams in the U12-19 age groups from across the country competing for the prestigious All-Ireland medals.
All three teams from Longford Athletic Club had the same goal in mind, to improve their times and qualify from the heats stage to the final race. In the most unusual way both the U12 and U13 girls’ team managed to achieve this goal and both achieved new personal best performances for their efforts.
The Uneven Ages races, U13, 15, 17 and 19, were run in the morning in windy and wet conditions. An unexpected mishap when one of the advertising signs blew out and impeded their lane led the girls on an alternative route to the final. Sarah McPhillips, Funmi Talabi, Melissa O’Kane and Avril Cosgrove rose to the occasion and run a solo race on the track in front of the very large crowd to record a new time which saw them finish in 6th place overall, at 56.72. This was a big request of athletes that are only 11 and 12 years of age and showed the girls determination to move forward.
The afternoon session was for the Even Ages races with Longford U12 Girls competing against a full panel of 21 teams. Twice in the day the final came down to the unusual number of 9 teams forcing it to be run in two separate heats as there are only 8 lanes. Siog Reilly, Kaela Brady, Funmi Talabi and Laura Farrell actually tied for the 8th/9th qualifying place but were disappointed to be disqualified for a baton change violation in the wet and slippery conditions. Their performance would have seen them finish 7th overall which is a fantastic achievement at National level.
Longford’s U14 Boys team notched a new pb of 54.78 gaining experience and confidence competing with the top teams in Ireland. Christopher Conaty, Joe Reilly, Cathal Farrell and Brendan Finnan will have to incorporate sprint drills into their hectic schedules to shave off a few more precious seconds from their time as the overall winner came in at 50.36.
Now the focus of the Championships will shift to the individual events with Longford Athletic Club juveniles competing in sprint and 200m, middle distance, hurdles and high jump over the next few weekends of July.