A win that will be remembered in the Longford AC archives!
GloHealth Athletics Ireland Juvenile Indoor Championships, Day 3
19 March 2016 at Athlone IT International Arena
The final day of the GloHealth Athletics Ireland Juvenile Indoor Championships was all about relays. The absolute best juvenile athletes, U12-19, from every county in Ireland travelled to Athlone International Arena last Saturday to compete at the highest level. It was with great pride that Longford AC returned home with a set of Bronze medals in the U16 Boys 4 X 200m relay- a new first for the County.
Having already made their mark at the Provincial Championships in mid-February, Longford AC had six teams qualify for the All-Irelands. The Club continues to go from strength to strength as is evidenced by the huge improvement seen in relay performance over the last three years. In 2014 two teams placed 4th in the Provincials and missed the cut off to move forward to Nationals. In 2015 five teams earned their passage and went on to compete at All-Ireland level with one team progressing from the heats. This year six teams qualified with three of them running in finals after impressive times in the heats stage, to see the U16 team achieve National standard.
The U16 Boys relay team of Cian Belton, Niall Moran, Daire McManus and Nelvin Appiah gave exceptional performances to make this a genuine team result. Credit is due to both Nelvin Appiah and Daire McManus who had already competed on U17 and U15 teams in the morning session having already run 2X200m each for those teams. It was an absolute thrill to watch them both dig into their reserves and give 110 percent in the final race to earn this fantastic achievement. Their Bronze medal winning time of 1:39.78 will be remembered in the Longford AC archives for years to come, especially as 1st place was 1:39.11 and 2nd place just a fraction ahead at 1:39.38.
As much as there was joy for the U16 Boys there was disappointment earlier in the day for the very promising U17 Boys relay team. Kenagh’s Aaron Kelly, Dylan Horkan and Ronan Farrell together with Nelvin Appiah won their heat to the delight of the large Longford contingent, shaving off an impressive 3 seconds from their Connacht time to finish at 1:38.38. In an almost repeat performance from February’s Connacht Championship, Longford were up against Craughwell in their heat and the lads managed to dominate the race, looking extremely promising for the final. The very short turnaround time from heat to final did not give enough recovery time after the total exertion that all four team members put in and they fell short of their goal on the podium. They barely had their breath when the Kenagh runners and all their supporters dashed off to their Leinster U16 match in Kinnegad to swap their spikes for football boots.
The U15 Boys, Daire McManus, Cian McPhillips, Keelin McGann and Club newcomer Killian Rawle also deserve praise for their performance, clocking a time of 1:46.47 -a 4 second improvement on their Connacht mark, and guaranteeing that they made the final. Although the younger teams, U12 Girls, U13 Girls and U14 Boys, did not progress out from the heats they all improved their times, had smooth handovers and lane changes. They will have gained confidence competing at National level that they can bring forward when the outdoor season begins.