Saturday, March 28, 2015

Girl Power To Fore At GloHealth All-Irelands

The All-Ireland Juvenile championships take place in Athlone today with a full programme of hurdle races. The girls will be to the fore with a trio of English champions being the highlight. Elizabeth Morland will start as hot favorite in the U18 while Molly Scott will be the one to watch in the U17 category. Scott will look to add the Irish title to the English title she won last month. She will be joined by Ciara Neville, already the Irish and English champion for the 60m flat.

Jason Foley, part of the Kerry All-Ireland winning minor football team in 2014, is down for the U19 and will start as favorite while the multi-eventing all-rounder, Daniel Ryan, will be the marked man in the U17. 

Leevale will look to retain their title as top hurdle club with the challenge likely to come from DSD, GCH and St Lawrence O' Tooles. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Tough Baptism For O'Donnell

Gerard O' Donnell endured a frustrating Irish debut in Prague this morning crashing out at the heat stage. After a breakthrough season with a 7.73 in Gent last month, he hit too many hurdles and came in 6th in 8.06 in his heat.

The fine lines at this level were exemplified as O' Donnell, a little down off the first, pushed too hard to recover and subsequently hit hurdles and lost ground and all momentum.

Philosophical in the aftermath, O' Donnell sees it as a stepping stone and only the start. More races at this level will be needed to harden his racing resolve. No doubt, its at this level that O' Donnell belongs and he will learn from this, indeed he already has, and take his learnings into the outdoor season. A pretty impressive debut indoor season at this level for a 26 year old novice!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Great Scott, She Has Only Gone And Beaten All The English

Molly Scott produced a dominant display in Sheffield today to take the English U17 60H title. It is an Irish two in a row in the event as Elizabeth Morland won the title in 2014 with Molly in 3rd. Molly went two better this year and her winning time of 8.51 is a new PB and only 0.02 off the CBP. She won each round on the way there, getting faster as she progressed. Ciara Neville, who had won the 60m flat the previous day, was just outside the medals in 4th in 8.65, only 0.01 off the bronze. There was a strong Irish contingent in the hurdle events with both Chloe Tobin and Ciara Deely making the semi-finals and just outside the qualifying spots for the final.

Strength in depth was also a factor for the Irish in the U20 hurdles. National junior record holder Sam Healy, Garbhan McKenna and Matthew Behan all progressed to the final. McKenna and Behan ran PBs in their semi-final, McKenna with 8.10 and Behan with 7.93 (only 0.04 off Healy's NJR). It was not to be in the final as they were all outside the medals. Behan started very well but came off the first poorly and hit the 2nd and faded. Healy was 5th while McKenna, also hitting hurdles, was 6th and Behan in 7th. A good experience for this very promising trio in a high pressure championship environment which will benefit them in their pursuit now of the Euro Junior standard for 110H.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Hurdleronditchitis Reaches Epidemic Proportions

The above picture could be a National senior hurdle championships one day soon. The numbers in this years edition were the lowest in 15 years and the lowest ever since the championships moved out of Nenagh. Only 8 athletes across the men and women's events.

Its been asked before but there is no definitive and single reason. Some athletes were injured and would have been there otherwise. But not all. What can be done?

Now many of the championships in Belfast had sizeable overseas entrants. Is this a solution to improve the competitiveness? Would domestic athletes be happy if a concerted effort was made to get overseas athletes in from the UK for example. Not necessary all world beaters but maybe a range of abilities.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

O' Donnell and McManus Favoured For Nationals

Gerard O' Donnell will start as favourite for tomorrow's GloHealth National Indoors 60mH title in Athlone. He has run the qualifying time for next month's European Indoor Championships in Prague with a stunning 7.73 two weeks ago in Belgium. However, Ben Reynolds is listed to run and will provide a very stern test to the Leitrim man. Only 0.01 separate their PBs (Reynolds has 7.74) and while Reynolds hasn't registered a time this season he looked impressive last week in Sheffield at the British championships before pulling up with an injury. It's not certain if Reynolds will start but if he does it should be a cracking and explosive race. The bronze will likely be decided among Josh Essuman, Patrick Heffernan, Michael Bowler or Eoin Power.

The absence of Sarah Lavin will open the door for Catherine McManus to claim her first senior title in the women's race. Sarah McCarthy will be favoured for silver while the trio of Niamh Fussey, Shannen Dawkins and 2015 Junior 60mH champion, Ciaran Neville, will battle for bronze. McManus  has progressed very well this season and pushed Lavin all the way to the line in the University championships.

Men Heat 11:45
Women Final 13:30
Men Final 13:40

Friday, February 20, 2015

Chefs To Brew Up Athlone Storm - Celebrity Master Track

After his heroics on Wednesday night it looks like @TreyvaudsResto will make a surprise appearance at this weekend’s National Championships in Athlone. One of the new kids on the block in the Athletics Culinary world, Treyvaud set twitter on fire during the Men’s Mile of the Athlone International. @WillDowningComm commented “I’ve seen River Plate on a Wednesday night in the preliminary round of the Copa America but never Prawn Plate. He came from nowhere and really took over the last 900m of that race on Wednesday”.
Responding to rumours that Treyvaud once beat an egg to within an ounce of its life and received a two year ban, @AthleticDJ said he will turn his back on the Cooking competition on Sunday. “It sends out the wrong message to the young kids out there. He should be banned for life, we can’t have chefs like this competing here”.  Hooper denied that he once ate a bruschetta that was made by Treyvaud when the chef guested in Mulino in Raheny back in 2012.
Treyvaud will face stiff competition though at Nationals.  Former hurdler turned chef, @DervalORourke will be present in Athlone too and will start as favourite. “I am ready for Sunday” she tweeted during the week. “I have my quinoa speckled banana balls on a dandelion jus all vacuum sealed in my lunchbox, energy will be crucial, they are my secret weapon”.
The Ian O’Doherty of Irish athletics journalism, @denners87 is angry though. “I am angry, I really am. I don’t know why but I am angry”. Speaking from his artist loft in Brooklyn, he said “I am looking at some of these athletes and what they are cooking. I mean scrambled egg on organic rye bread. I was doing that in Limerick in 2002. If I head across the river to the Meatpacking district for a mid-afternoon brunch I will get a real breakfast, none of this second class Ibis style breakfast. I am angry. We deserve more. I deserve more. I am angry”.

Also likely to feature on the podium is @DavidGillick. “I’m trying something new on Sunday. I call the dish ‘Dhyana’. It’s an advanced meditative dish where I will stand by the hob and visualise the whale tale meat to cook. Tried it with the lads in Balinteer St Johns and they loved it”. Many see Gillick as the favourite on Sunday as he has delivered on the biggest culinary stage in the past when winning Master Chef. The housewives favourite, Gillick will no doubt whip the crowd into a frenzy with his creation.
Organisers had hoped for some overseas challengers. @FeidhlimKelly had been liaising with top Australian chef Bill Granger about competing. “The Irish chefs need to start linking up with the Bill Grangers and John Torodes of this world. Through my contacts in the Melbourne Cook Club, I can bring these guys to Ireland. It didn’t work this year but it’s something we are looking at”. Kelly will bring much needed body to the commentary on Sunday but was non-committal on whether he would have a matching violet apron to go with his trousers from Wednesday night.

@ponyyelof had some comments this week about the gas igniters on some of the hobs in Athlone. Writing in the Food and Living section of the Irish Independent she highlighted some concerns that some of the chefs and their coaches have regarding the equipment. @mcwexford told her “All you want to do is come to Athlone, put the bread in the toaster, beans in the pot and away you go. It’s been happening since 2002, I haven’t had good beans on toast at Indoors since they changed the direction of the shop in Nenagh and started selling soup. These days I sort myself out in the Farmers Kitchen in Drinagh before heading up”. Foley’s piece also mentioned that engineers from both Bosch and Neff have reviewed the gas igniters and they are up to industry standard.
The final word of this Nationals preview must go to Ian O’Riordan. He mentions that ‘if you can’t stick the heat get out of the kitchen’ and says of Sunday’s Athletics Culinary showdown, quoting TS Eliot, the creator of the original hipster J Alfred Prufrock,:
“Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea”.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

GOD Taking Us All To Church

You could say Gerard O' Donnell's stunning 7.73 was an overnight success but it was one hell of a long night. Like all meteoric rises, they come out of nowhere and are unexpected but when you dig deeper it can be explained, somewhat.

Andrew Hozier-Byrne was a professional artist, with Anuna, for as long back as 2008. He released a solo EP in 2013 and then a full album in late 2014. It was then after six long years that he became an 'overnight success' with the Grammy nominated Take Me To Church.

Now, I am not suggesting that Gerard O' Donnell will be covering a LeBron Beats commercial or hurdling at a Victoria Secrets show (but hey, who knows) but the back story can somewhat explain how he went from a 54 second 400m hurdler to a 7.73 60m hurdler.

Hard work is the one value system that is required. Always wishing to learn is another. A few years back there was an Irish Hurdlers Clinic held in DCU with Derval O' Rourke. There were huge numbers of athletes there, the vast majority were mid to late teens. One 'old' guy was hovering at the back, taking it in, learning from O' Rourke and her coaches Terri Cahill and Martina McCarthy. He was the oldest athlete there by about five years. Who knew it was all part of his master plan to make his breakthrough 25 months later.

We may need to get a Carrick version of this.