After battling it out at local and regional level, the best of Irish schools’ athletics talent are ready to compete at the AVIVA All Ireland Schools Track & Field Final this Saturday, 2nd June at Tullamore Harriers Stadium.
This yearly event is the culmination of months of tough competition for schools’ athletes throughout Ireland, who have progressed through regional and provincial championships to secure their much sought after place in the AVIVA All-Ireland final.
Last year’s championships saw Kate Veale, St. Augustines College, Dungarvan capture the much coveted “Lar Byrne Memorial Trophy” for the athlete of the meeting. With a record breaking performance Kate captivated spectators. This year she will walk in the senior Girls race, hoping to break the long standing record, in preparation for the IAAF World Junior championships to be held in Barcelona this summer.
Another young athlete hoping to break a record will be Siofra Cleirigh Buttner, Colaiste Iosagain. Amy O’Donoghue, Villiers Schools’, mark of 2.10.80 is outside of Siofra’s 2.06 Personal best set last summer.
Race of the day could be the Senior boys 800 meters with David Harper, Rice College Westport College and Karl Griffin, Abbey Vocational Donegal the gold and silver medallists in the Intermediate boys event last year moving up to take on the defending champion Dean O Croinin, Colaiste na Phiarsaigh Gleann Maghair, who ran 1.50 last year to qualify for the European Junior Championships.
Another rising star is undoubtedly Alana Lallly, Presentation Athenry, who broke the Connacht Schools Intermediate 800 meter record and will also run in the Intermediate girls 300 meter race. Other contenders in the longer sprints include Ben Kiely, Tramore C.B.S who will run the senior boys 400 meters hurdles and 400m events. Last season Kiely, was the Gold medalist in the 400 meter hurdles at the European Youth Olympic Festival.
In the Senior Girls’ sprints Cliona Manning, Loreto Kilkenny will be a likely contender, facing Phil Healy, Colaiste na Toirbhirte, Bandon and Sarah Murray, Mount Temple who was ranked 8th nationally last season . In the Senior Boys Marcus Lawlor, CBS Carlow and Greg O’Shea. Crescent College, Limerick go head-to-head. Lawlor is in good form following his National Youth Record at the A.I. Games, setting a new personal best of 21.42 seconds for the 200m. In the Senior Girls 100m Hurdles, Sarah Lavin, Castletroy College broke a record at provincial level with a time of 13.91 and is likely to put in an outstanding performance at national level.
In the field events there are many exciting young talents on show with competition for medals high. Early in the morning watch out for Alice Akers, Scariff Community College, who broke the Junior Hammer record last year and will compete at Intermediate level this year. Last years’ silver medallist Aoife Vaughan, Witts, Borrisokane C.C. will provide Alice with high level competition.
In Junior Boys high jump, CBC Corks’, Jack Murphy is a young talent to watch. Sarah Buggy Castlecomer CS, broke the senior girls Triple Jump record with a winning leap of 11.49m at provincial level and will be out to attempt to claim the Senior Girls Triple Jump title this weekend. Similarly, Rachel Swan, Rathdown, added one centimetre to the senior girls Pole Vault record in the AVIVA Leinster Schools, clearing 2.66m and will face tough competition for the title at national level.
On the whole, the AVIVA Irish Schools Athletics championships’ is always an exciting event in the domestic calendar not to be missed.