Lifford AC juvenile and senior athletes were in action at various events over the weekend, and yet again, there were a number of exceptional performances at all levels.
The Billy Morton Stadium in Santry, Dublin was the venue for the annual Tailteann Games Interprovincial between Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht. Lifford AC had 5 athletes represented on the Ulster team and all performed admirably on what was a hot, humid day for track and field athletics.
Brendan O’Donnell, the 2014 Tailteann Games Hammer Throw champion was back defending his title. Having broken the 60m barrier for the first time at the Ulster Schools Championships last month, the St. Eunan’s College athlete pushed on to pastures new with 5 throws over the 60m mark on this occasion. His furthest throw came in the final round throw when he launched the hammer to a massive 63.70m guaranteeing O’Donnell a victory by over 8 metres and earning him his second Tailteann Games gold medal and an almost certain place on the Irish Schools team which competes against England, Scotland and Wales in Grangemouth, Scotland next month.
Alan McGinley ran the race of his life in the Boys 800m in what turned out to be a very tactical affair. The Royal and Prior, Raphoe student ran intelligently throughout and when Kevin McGrath of St. Pat’s, Navan, running in the green of Leinster pushed the accelerator button with 400m to go, McGinley stayed in touch with the leading pack. Entering the home straight, McGinley found himself in a great battle for a medal position in what was a star studded field. Crossing the line in a new personal best time of 1 minute 59.71 seconds, the Lifford lad had to settle for 5th position but can take great satisfaction from the fact that trailing him were Mark Milner of Leinster and Jake Harbison of Ulster, both of whom have already achieved EYOF qualifying standards already this year.
Shannon Craig of Royal and Prior, Raphoe has already jumped 1.63m this season and was quietly hopeful going into the Girls High Jump that if she were to jump close to that mark again, then she would certainly put herself in medal contention. After encountering some difficulty with her run up, the young Raphoe student had to settle for 1.55m though will take some satisfaction from the fact that she is underage for this event again next year.
Brandon Connolly ran a new personal best time of 62.22 seconds to take 5th place in the Boys 400m Hurdles in a race won by Cathal Locke of Crescent Community College in an impressive 56.71 seconds. Connolly knocked a second off his previous best and with more races and more experience over this distance can edge closer to the 60 second mark.
Stephen McCallion was out of sorts in the Boys Long Jump. After jumping a new personal best of 5.79m in the Ulster Juvenile Championships just last week, the Strabane Academy student just couldn’t quite hit the take-off board to his satisfaction on this occasion, eventually settling for a best jump of 4.99m and 10th position overall.
Attention for these young athletes now turns to the All Ireland Juvenile Championships which take place in Tullamore next month.
On Saturday, the temperatures again soared at the Mary Peters track in Belfast, where the Ulster Masters took place. Four Lifford athletes were in action, which saw them return home with an impressive haul of 15 medals, seven gold, seven silver and one bronze.
Mark Doherty turned in some fine performances to take home 3 medals. In the M45 category Mark won gold in the javelin with a seasons best throw of 37.32 . Mark also won gold in the 56lbs weight throw with a new personal best of 4.65 and silver in the Shot Putt with a throw of 10.43m.
Gary Gallagher was in fine form also, picking up 4 medals in M40 category. In the long Jump, Gary leapt out to 5.29m to equal his personal best in this event. In the 110m hurdles, Gary also took silver in a time of 20.01s and followed this up with yeat another silver medal in the 200m in a time of 26.39s. To round off a successful day, Gary also picked up a bronze medal in the High Jump with a fine leap of 1.55m.
Brian Breslin was in action in the M45 category which saw return with 4 medals. Brian jumped 1.35m to win a fine gold in the High Jump, while in the 110m hurdles, Brian also sprinted to gold in a time of 23.10s. In the Long Jump, Brian jumped 4.37m to win silver and in his first ever competitive 400m, he ran 64.95s to win an excellent silver medal.
Donegal Masters Athlete of the Year, Isabel Breslin continued to her impressive run of achieveing medals at Provincial and National level, with 4 medals in the W40 category. Isabel had a fine jump of 1.40m to win gold in the High Jump. In the Shot Putt event, Isabel also struck gold with a throw of 8.48m, with yeat another gold achieved in the Long jump with a jump of 3.70m.. To round off another successful Ulsters for the Lifford athlete, Isabel took a fine silver medal in the 80m hurdles. Next up now for this group of athletes is the All Ireland Masters Track and Field championships in July . Under the guidance of coach Isabella Breslin we can expect further improvement on these performances, with expectations high for further national glory in July.
Whereas road racing provides multiple opportunities throughout the year for competitive action, the life of a track and field athlete is occasionally a lonely one, with a commitment to training required twelve months of the year for occasional competition. However, with fifteen medals coming home from their Provincial Championships, these athletes can take great satisfaction from the many months of training and commitment.