Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Barr Sets It Up And Doyle And McKenna Close It Out

From Doha to Bishopstown to Santry to Loughborough, it was a great weekend for the hurdlers in Ireland. Thomas Barr set the scene in the Diamond League on Friday when claiming 3rd in 48.99. In a top class field, Barr timed his now trademark last hurdle drive for probably the biggest performance of his life. It is still early season but Barr seems to have already moved up a gear from 2014. Never a man to make excuses, Barr seems to have learned from his disappointment of Zurich last year and is a stronger, more resilient hurdler. 

The Irish Schools season is ramping up and Kelly-Ann Doyle was the standout from the provincials with a Euro B Standard (61.22) in the Munsters in Cork. Earlier in the week, Matthew Behan ran a blistering 13.79 but no wind reading will rule it out for record or PB purposes. Garbhan McKenna ran another Euro B Standard of 14.28 in Loughborough and that should book his ticket to Sweden. Megan Marrs debuted for Great Britain in Loughborough, finishing 2nd in 14.31.

Also in Loughborough, Ben Reynolds won the first of the Ben&Gerry challenge when clocking 13.91 to Gerard O' Donnell's 14.10 (PB). Nessa Milllet was on target for a big win in the 400H but clipped the last and lost huge momentum  but recovered to claim 3rd in 61.81. Christine McMahon suffered her 2nd bizarre DQ for hooking this season, despite being a left leg lead on the bend!! Jason Harvey and Paul Byrne were slightly off form over 400H at the same meet.

Finally, Santry saw the GloHealth AI Games on Sunday. Simon Taggart made his comeback to take the men's in 15.03 while Elizabeth Morland ran a 13.80 into a -1.9 wind. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

British And French League Wins

It was a good weekend for Irish Hurdlers in the British and French leagues with four wins. Competing for British league clubs is always a great opportunity to get some extra competitive action while Ben Kiely (thanks to the indomitable Dermot McDermott) goes a step further and competes in the 'championnats de France interclubs d'athl├ętisme' for the SPN Vernon club. 

Ben Reynolds 110H 13.81 (+2.0)
Jason Harvey 400H 51.71

Paul Byrne 400H 52.09

Ben Kiely 400H 52.24

Friday, May 8, 2015

British League Action For Top Hurdlers This Weekend

A trio of our top hurdlers will kick off their season in earnest this week in British League matches with Ben Reynolds, Jason Harvey and Paul Byrne all competing. Reynolds will compete the following week again at the Loughborough International as will Gerard O' Donnell. Also in Loughborough will be Megan Marrs and Garbhan McKenna, fresh from their strong season openers (and Euro Junior QT for McKenna) in a miserable Greystones last week. 

Also exciting news that doors to some big races may be starting to open up to Thomas Barr this early season. Barr was confirmed European Athletics Male Athlete of the Month for April earlier this week and ran a blisteringly quick 45.13 relay leg at the World Relays in the Bahamas last weekend. 

Nessa Millet showed a return to her 2013 form with a promising opener of 60.32 at BUCS last Monday. Christine McMahon was DQd for 'hooking' in the same race. Finally, good to hear that former EYOF bronze medalist, Megan Kiely, raced over 400H for her college Eastern Kentucky last weekend in her first long hurdle race in almost two years. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Startlists For Greystones IMC Hurdle Races This Saturday

Start Times
2.15 110 H Men Race 1
2.23 110 H Men Race 2
2.31 100 H Women
4.20 400 H Men
4.28 400 H Women

Mens 110H - Race 1
1 Donal Kearns
2 Matthew Behan
3 Garbhan McKenna
4 -
5 Eoin Power
6 Patrick Heffernan
Mens 110H - Race 2 (Youth Heights)
1 -
2 Jack Rudden Kelly
3 Daniel Ryan
4 Ben Fisher
5 Jack Murphy
6 -
Womens 100H
1 -
2 Megan Marrs
3 Ciara Neville
4 Molly Scott
5 Shannan Sheehy
6 Lisa Aspel
Mens 400H
1 Mark Rogers
2 Sean Gill
3 -
4 Ryan Murray
5 Simon Essuman
6 David Ryan
Womens 400H
1 Niamh Malone
2 Kelly Ann Doyle
3 Leanne Prout
4 Kate McGowan
5 Grace O' Rourke
6 Rachel Dunne

Saturday, April 25, 2015

No Tom Jones Delilah For Barr In Florida

It started in Dublin several years ago when Paul Byrne and John Fagan lived and trained together. They used to cut each other's hair. Byrne made the move to Limerick this season to train with Thomas Barr and he has brought the hair cutting aspect with him. He has been entrusted with the cutting of the Barr (not sure if Jessie is trusting him yet) mane on at least one occasion and unlike Samson, it doesn't seem to have affected Barr's performances. 

As the Tom Jones song Delilah goes 'as she deceived me I watched and went out of my mind', the 400m hurdles can be a pretty frustrating event with stride patterns, technique issues or even lack of confidence all potential pitfalls to pushing a hurdler to go out of their mind. The first couple of races each season tell a lot to confirm whether the great work of a winter has transferred to the sticks. But this Delilah of hurdling pitfalls is no nemesis of this Samson based on his run in the Tom Jones Memorial (the Florida coach who died, not the Welsh singer who is still alive) last night.

The move of Byrne to Limerick, as well as the return of Jessie from Bath, has been mentioned as a very positive impact on Tom Barr's environment by both Harrison coaches. His run of 49.08 when winning in Florida last night is inside the World Championship and Olympic Games standard. It is his third fastest time ever. It is also right in the middle of times that the world class long hurdlers are running right now. It looks like things are ticking along just right for Barr right now.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

From Barr To Behan To Morland - Strong Early Season

Matthew Behan on his way to 13.99 at Leevale (Photo Gearoid O Laoi)

The outdoor season is just about opened and already there have been some great early season performances. Last season's top man, Tom Barr, opened his season very well at the IUAA Champs almost two weeks ago with a very solid 50.44. It is the earliest he has opened in three years and only once previous has he run as fast as that even in May so signs are good. He races in the Tom Jones Memorial (startlist here) in Florida tomorrow against Jack Green. Sarah Lavin ran a windy 13.60 in Clermont as well as a legal 13.90 and also runs in the Tom Jones Memorial tomorrow.

The Leevale Open has always been a great indicator of early season form and throws up a big performance over the hurdles. This year it was Matthew Behan as he not only qualified for the European Juniors but also broke his big rival Sam Healy's Irish Junior Record. His time of 13.99 is the first time an Irish Junior has run sub 14. Interestingly, Matthew's coach at Crusaders, Maria Hetherington was the first Irish woman to run sub 14 back in 1982.

Most recently, a special women's 100m hurdles race was held at the Dublin Graded meet. Dublin Athletics were very accomodating and conditions were perfect with early evening sun and a slight tailwind ( a rarity in Santry). Elizabeth Morland took the opportunity and raced to a big PB of 13.70. It was also inside the World Youth Standard of 13.75 and only 0.08 off Sarah Lavin's Irish Youth Record. Molly Scott was also in sub 14 form and she claimed the EYOF standard with 13.97 while Morland's clubmate from Cushinstown, Shannon Sheehy also PB'd and got inside the EYOF standard of 14.15 with a 14.12. A special night for the three girls and again testament to the thought that simply racing each other and being competitive will bring the best out of athletes.

The regional rounds of the Irish Schools have commenced while the Thomond Games are on this Sunday with full range of hurdle races. Early May will then see the big IMC Meet in Greystones with a top class field of hurdlers already entered.

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.