Thursday, April 9, 2015

Barr Set To Star At IUAA

It is four years now since Thomas Barr announced his arrival on the hurdles scene with a win in the IUAA Championships in Belfast in 2011 (story here). He returns to Belfast tomorrow and looks a dead cert to take the men's 400m hurdles title. Strangely, he is also entered in the 110m hurdles, but that is probably more down to his team filling up the entry list as opposed to him taking a risk over the higher barriers. Ben Kiely will look to get his outdoor season off to good start in pursuit of a European U23 standard this season while Brandon Arrey will hope to build on his strong indoor season, where he ran on the Irish 4 x 400m team at the European indoors in Prague. Evan McGuire will also likely be featuring in the battle for medals.

The short hurdles will be a very open race with anyone of seven in the hunt for the title. DCU pair, Spain's Antonio Garcia Fernandez and Eoin Power, Garbhan McKenna, Adam Hill, Patrick Heffernan, Eoin Kelly and Josh Essuman are all listed to start. A notable exclusion is DCU's Andrew Creamer who wasn't selected due to the strength of the DCU team when based on his runs in Lee Valley two weeks ago he could have been a favourite for gold considering he went #3 on the Irish indoor list for 2015.

While the men's short hurdles may have a Spanish winner, the women's could have an Italian. Alessandra Feudatari, an ERASMUS student in Sligo IT, will start as favourite in the absence of Catherine McManus and Sarah Lavin. A former participant at the World Junior Championships in 2010, she has a PB of 13.65 and was 3rd in the IUAA indoors in February. Good to see Lily Ann O'Hora on the startlist after a lengthy absence from racing.

The international theme continues with the inclusion of Belgian Louise Van Eecke, a 60.55 400m hurdler based in QUB in the women's long hurdles. Cork twins, Jessica and Christine Neville, are also a danger and on their day likely winners. Claire Murphy hasn't discovered her schools form since the move to college but has a strong PB of 60.75 and cannot be underestimated.

Action underway tomorrow.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Spring Race Season To Get 2015 Underway - Get Racing!

The odd year is always a busy one for young Irish athletes with the EYOF, World Youth, European Juniors and European U23 championships taking place. Qualification for these is getting tougher each year and this year is no different. There are several early season qualification opportunities over the coming month.

The IUAA championships (for 3rd level students) is in Belfast next weekend but after that there is a series of open competitions with hurdle races:

18th April Leevale Open - Cork IT. All hurdle events
22nd April Dublin Graded - Santry Womens 110H only
25th April Thomond Games - UL All hurdle events
2nd May Irish Milers Club - Greystones All hurdle events

Contact on the links above for entry details or for any questions.

These early season races are also an ideal preparation for the upcoming Schools championships.

Qualification Standards

Age: Under 17
Deadline: 14th June
Girls 100H (76) 14.15
Boys 110H (91) 14.30
Girls 400H (76) 62.00 [300H 43.50]
Boys 400H (83) 54.70

World Youths
Age: Under 18
Deadline: 6th July
Girls 100H (76) 13.75
Boys 110H (91) 13.80
Girls 400H (76) 61.00
Boys 400H (83) 52.30

European Juniors
**'A' & 'B' standards - 1 'A' or 2 'B' Needed**
Age: Under 20
Deadline: 6th July
Women 100H 13.90/14.15
Men 110H 14.25/14.45
Women 400H 59.30/61.25
Men 400H 51.95/53.75

European U23
Age: Under 23
Deadline: 29th June
Women 100H 13.80
Men 110H 14.10
Women 400H 59.35
Men 400H 51.40

Pa Maher on his way to an Irish Junior 400H Record and a World Junior QT Back in 2010

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Flecks Of Hurdling Excellence - An Untapped And Expanding Goldmine

With St Laurence O' Toole AC coming out as top hurdle club at the recent GloHealth All-Ireland indoors, it is interesting to note the top clubs over the past four years have been four different clubs from each of the four provinces. 2012 saw Annalee from Ulster, 2013 was Claremorris from Connacht, 2014 was Leevale from Munster and this year the Carlow based SLOT in Leinster.

For hurdles, or any technical event, to succeed there needs to be a passionate hurdles person at a club. There are not enough of these. The ones that are there are achieving great success even at what may not have been regarded as established clubs. Annalee and Bree are some of the less traditional clubs and now with more established clubs like DSD and Donore Harriers developing hurdlers the standard continues to rise.

A comparison of medal winner times from 2005 to this year shows a stunning increase in standards. One factor is the move from Nenagh to Athlone but that cannot explain an average improvement of 4% in times. The depth has hugely increased across the board. The following is the comparison of each age group and the average time of the medal winners with the % improvement of that average time from 2005 to 2015.

Now there were great athletes back in 2005. Take the girls u17 which included Mairead Murphy, Kalyn Sheehan and Jessie Barr. All international hurdlers and one Olympian. The current crop of youngsters in that age group are on average 1% faster than that great trio.

The challenge now is to build on that and maintain that momentum.

SLOT Are Top Club As Ryan Continues Progress

St Laurence O' Tooles AC from Carlow ended up top hurdle club at the GloHealth All-Irelands in Athlone on Saturday. With the result right in doubt until the very last race, Ake Agomide, came up trumps to win the boys u16 title in 8.48. The day was book ended by Carlow wins with Bronagh Walsh claiming the girls u16 race in 9.13. Bronagh failed the make the final in this event over the past three years but it proves that perserverance pays off with a grea win this year.

Daniel Ryan was a very impressive winner in the boys u17 in a very fast 8.14. Ciara Neville has had a stunning breakthrough season, particularly on the flat including victory in the English Indoor Championship, and she added the girls U17 gold to her ever growing tally.

Elizabeth Morland was the favourite for the girls u18 race but false started and was disqualified. This left the door open for Sarah Quinn who impressively won in 9.01. Sarah has always been close to the medal over the past four years, with one 4th and two 5th, but she came good in 2015 to be the All-Ireland champion. Jack Murphy retained his 2014 with a speedy 8.35 in the boys U18.

The girls u19 had the tightest and best race of the championship with Leanne Prout edging out Clodagh O' Mahoney and Kate Doherty with only 0.02 between the three of them. Jason Foley, All-Ireland Minor Football winner with Kerry in 2014, won his last juvenile indoor race in the boys u19 in 8.40.

The girls U19 race with the blanket finish is here

Top Ten Clubs
2 Carrick-on-Suir
4 Leevale
5 Donore
6= GCH
6= Old Abbey
6= Annalee
6= Bree
10= Moycarkey
10= Ratoath

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.