28 juvenile athletes from Longford AC competed in the Connaught Indoor Championships held at the International Arena at Athlone IT last weekend. More than 800 children from Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon, Leitrim and Longford took part in the 2 day event comprising indoor track, field and relay competition. The best juvenile U12 to U18 athletes in the Western Region were up against very high standards in every event – 60m sprint, 60m Hurdles, 600m/800m, 1500m, Long Jump, High Jump, as they competed for Connaught titles and the opportunity to progress to the Athletics Ireland National Finals.
Niall Nerney, Stonepark, showed his top form winning 3rd place in the U18 1500m race. He is still in the midst of schools cross country with an excellent 5th place result in last week’s Connaught final, progressing to the upcoming Aviva Irish Schools All- Ireland Cross Country Championship in Cork.
After a very successful cross country season both Cian McPhillips, Ardagh, and Sarah Murphy, Dromard, dominated in the U13 600m. Cian as last year’s Connaught and National U12 600m champion lived up to his reputation winning 1st place in a time of 1.44.88, a full 5 seconds ahead of his nearest contender. Sarah easily won her heat and claimed 2nd place with a time of 1.54.07. Longford had 9 athletes compete in the 600m category including James Galligan, Jim Crossan, Daniel Hayden, Rory Maguire, Adam Shields and Dearbhaile Rooney (800m), who all put their weeks of training to the test in the 600m event.
David McDonnell, Strokestown, and Cathal Farrell, Ardagh, excelled in the U12 Boys 60m sprint with both Longford athletes winning their heats and running against each other in the final to claim 4th and 6th places respectively from the field over 50 runners. Jenny Purdy, Edgeworthstown, clocked a fast time in her heat and made a great showing in the U12 Girls final. The 60m sprint was the most popular event with 17 Longford AC members entered including Oisin Mac an Bheatha, Orlaith Mulligan, Tadhg Nerney, Evan Moran, Katlyn Cororan, Aoife Maher, Peter Parker, Martin Parker and Niall Moran who all gained valuable race experience.
When it came to the field events Longford AC had already done their research and set their sights on placing in the medals. Brendan Finnan won Silver at 1.2m in the U12 Boys High Jump and new club member Niall Moran won Bronze in the U14 Boys Long Jump with his superb 4.21m jump. Long Jump was Longford’s most popular field event with 11 athletes such as Niamh Brady, Aoife Maher, Tadhg Nerney, Evan Moran, James Galligan, Jim Crossan and Peter Parker all hitting the sand in the long jump pit.
The fantastic atmosphere in the arena was palpable when the large crowd gave enthusiastic support during the relay competitions. With the growth of the Club in 2014 Longford AC was able to enter 5 relay teams -U12 Girls, U12 Boys X 2 teams, U13 Boys and U14 Boys. For many of the club’s new members it was their very first opportunity wear their singlet and to assess their talent on the track. Great performances were noted by 4 of the U11 athletes that moved up a year to compete on relay teams: Jack Gallagher, Tommy Corcoran, Aideen Mulligan and Sarah McPhillips. Several of the teams placed very well and although they did not win any medals every team gained competition experience and can build on their speed and competency for the upcoming Outdoor season.
The 5 Connaught medallists from Longford AC, Cian McPhillips, Sarah Murphy, Brendan Finnan, Niall Moran and Niall Nerney will put in 2 more weeks of training and then return to Athlone IT’s International Arena on March 22 & 23 for the Athletics Ireland National Indoor Championships. Congratulations to coaches Padraig Farrell, Paddy McPhillips, Caitriona Hayden and the parents who volunteer their time and enthusiasm to athletics in Longford.