Young Tir Chonaill Athletes shine in Tullamore

11th/12th July 2009


Weekend 1 [11th/12th July] of the National Juvenile Track and Field Championships at Tullamore was a most successful experience for eleven Tir Chonaill youngsters. Over two days when an unprecedented number of records were set, when the large supporting crowds of supporters and athletes experienced a variety of climatic conditions the clubs  young athletes  performed as never before.



The sprint hurdles heats were scheduled for 10am on Saturday morning. Kate McGowan in the U13 60m category was impressive in winning the first event of the day. Ruth Gillespie, in her first individual national event, was very happy with her 5th place heat finish. Following a 30 minutes stoppage due to an injury in heat 1 of the U14 girls hurdles, Emma Brady and Kelly McGrory regained their composure and had impressive victories in heats 2 and 3 and automatic qualification for the 12 noon final. Louise Harvey ran a P.B. of 14.92secs to win the first U17 100m semi final.

Enna Brady

Emma Brady in the U14 Girls Hurdles Heats


As we moved into the afternoon, Kate McGowan, was the first Tir Chonaill athlete to contest a final. She ran aggressively and finished 4th in a P.B. time of 10.38secs. The U14 75 m Hurdles final had school mates Kelly Mc Grory and Emma Brady drawn in lanes 3 and 4. Emma got the better start and contested the lead for three of the six hurdles. Kelly came from 5th at the halfway stage and with very good rhythm and hurdling skill finished in a bronze medal winning position,12.03secs with Emma 4th in 12.22secs.


At 1:30pm, Tir Chonaill’s U12 shot putters, Megan McGee and Grace Nolan were in the enclosure and competed  exceptionally well to finish 8th, Megan 6.78m and  a new PB, and 13th, Grace 5.47m. As the shot putt competitors were exciting the arena, Louise Harvey was called to her marks in the final of the U17 -100m hurdles. Following a nerve wrecking false start, she ran the race of her life to come from third place at halfway to win in a new PB time of 14.72secs and in the process defeating hurdles rival Chloe Fahy of Nenagh.


The heats of the sprints were next on the agenda with Kate McGowan finishing 5th in the U13 80m and Kelly McGrory, filling a similar position in the U14 event. Kelly’s time was good enough to qualify as a fastest loser for the final. As the afternoon’s competition came to a close and the rain and wind reminded us of a January evening in Donegal, Kelly ran a time of 11.19secs for a 7th place finish.




It was another early start on Sunday morning for a number of Tir Chonaill athletes. Christopher Doherty, in the U16 Pole Vault - an event that demands a lot of technical ‘know how’ and no small amount of ‘bravery’ was warmed up and ready to compete at 10am. He cleared 2.80m for a bronze medal winning position and was very unlucky with two of his failing attempts at 3metres. Ryan Byrne, from the neighbouring club Sl Liag, who also trains in Donegal Town with David Doherty’s Pole Vault group was delighted to win the U17 competition with a PB and a best of 2.80m.


The track had Clare Brady contest the first heat of the U15 250m Hurdles. She competed very well and was in contention for a top three place up until the 2nd last hurdle. She eventually finished 5th, 42.29secs and narrowly missed a final place. Ciaran Cornyn, in the U16 event was drawn in the outside lane and fought all the way to finish 3rd and automatically qualify for the final in a time of 37.49secs. Ciaran has been involved in the sport for seven years and this was his first time to qualify for an individual national final.

Ciaran Cornyn

Ciaran Cornyn in the U16 250m Hurdles


Louise Harvey, won heat 1 of the Girls U17 300m Hurdles in a time of 57.46secs and Tir Chonaill had two final qualifiers. Ciaran Cornyn was again drawn in an outside lane in the hurdles final. He can be very happy with his  5th place finish in a very competitive race where we had a lot of drama including two fallers. Ciaran in his first year at hurdling can make even bigger improvements in the coming season provided he works on the technical aspects of the discipline.


Louise Harvey, drawn in Lane 6,  in the U17 300m Hurdles final, had pre race favourite Laura Langton, Kilkenny City Harriers and Chloe Fahy, Nengh, getting the more favourable lanes 3 and 4. As the race unwound into the home straight Langton had a three  metres lead with Louise and Chloe contesting for 2nd place. Over the final straight and two thirty five metres spaced hurdles, the Kilkeeny girl still led with Louise gradually closing the gap. The gap was down to a metre as the girls negotiated the final barrier. In the rush for the line the Tir Chonaill lass dug very deep and won the narrowest of margins in a very good time of 45.42 secs.

Louise Harvey

Louse Harvey, drawn in Lane 6,  in the U17 300m Hurdles Final


Louise Harvey


Brendan Oates, trains with Paddy Donoghue’s group in Bundoran, and in his first National competition threw the javelin 20.41metes for an outstanding PB and a 8th place finish in the U13 age group.


Karl Griffin, experienced a variety of climatic conditions as he warmed up for the U15 800m final. Thirteen competitors faced the starter and Karl and pre race favourite Shane Fitzimmmons, Mullingar, shared a lane in the opening 100m. As the pack broke into the back straight the field slowed down and remained at a tactical pace until the bell, reached in 65/66 secs. With 300m to go Fitzimmons, undefeated in national underage competition, moved to the front and increased the pace. With 150m he continued to increase the pace but was unable to shake off the attentions of Karl Griffin who was the only athlete who responded. A two metres lead was closed to one metre and finally Karl kicked with 50metres to go and came for an historic victory in a time of 2mins 4.78secs, over a second clear of the Mullingar man. The final lap was ran in under 58 secs.

Karl Griffin

Karl Griffin and pre race favourite Shane Fitzimmmons, shared

lane in the opening 100m


Karl Griffin

Karl Griffin


Karl Griffin

Victory Podium


A sincere thanks to all the coaches who prepared all these athletes for competition and to the parents and coaches who traveled down to Tullamore to support and encourage.


The 'National Juvenile Championships' conclude next weekend in Tullamore and one again Tir Chonaill will have three relays and one individual compete.