Gareth Crawford, Lifford-Strabane and Dylan Kearns, Killybegs on the victory rostrum
The AAI Junior and Under 23 Championships were held in Morton Stadium Santry on Saturday and Sunday and Donegal athletes were very much to the fore.
The won 16 medals in total and the achievement did not go unnoticed as one very prominent Dublin official remarked that the Dublin clubs had all underachieved at these championships while counties like Donegal flourished.
The medal haul was shared by six Donegal Clubs, Finn Valley, Tír Chonaill, Lifford-Strabane, Killybegs, Cranford and Letterkenny.
One noticeable element is the rise of the field events among the Donegal athletes with jumps and throws accounting for nine of our total 16 medals won.
Sprints and relays came next with five medals and middle-distance events accounted for two medals.
Over the years Donegal built up a well-earned reputation for excellence in the middle distance and cross-country events but this has now been equalled by the great work of the Throws, Jumps and Sprints coaches in all our clubs.
Our athletes finished first and second in the Under 23 men’s Javelin with Gareth Crawford Lifford Strabane taking the title with Dylan Kearns, Killybegs in second. We had a two three performance in the Junior Men’s 400m Hurdles with the silver going to Ryan Canning, Letterkenny and the bronze to Eoin Sharkey, Tír Chonaill.
On Saturday Brendan O’ Donnell, Lifford-Strabane, retained his Under 23 Hammer title with a throw of 61.32m bringing a frustrating year to a conclusion.
James Kelly from Finn Valley won the shot with a put of 16.90m - a new championship best performance.
On Sunday Gareth Crawford, Lifford -Strabane won the Under 23 Javelin with a throw of 65.13m and in the final event of the weekend the Tír Chonaill Junior Ladies Rachel Gallagher, Niamh Moohan, Aoibhinn Mc Garrigle and Lucy Mc Glynn won the 4 x 100m Relay in a time of 50.03.
Adrienne Gallen, Lifford-Strabane won the first silver of the weekend with her effort of 49.15m in the Junior women’s hammer.
Karen Gallagher Finn Valley was runner up in the U/23 5,000m in 18.44.11 and Joseph Gillespie Finn Valley jumped to the silver in the Junior men’s Triple Jump with a 13.45m effort.
Ryan Canning, Letterkenny, was second in the Junior men’s 400m Hurdles in 56.14 secs in a race where Alan Miley, St Lawrence O Toole AC set a new championship best of 53.20.
The good Donegal performances continued on Sunday with Lucy Mc Glynn, Tír Chonaill taking a great silver in the Junior women’s 100m Hurdles in a time of 15.08, Dylan Kearns, Killybegs equalled his silver medal winning performance of 2020 in the men’s under 23 Javelin with a throw of 54.94m.
Ellie Mc Curdy, Lifford-Strabane got silver in the Junior women’s Javelin with a throw of 36.77m and Laura Crossan, Finn Valley took the silver in the Under 23 women’s 400m.
One of the earliest successes was on Saturday when Eoin Sharkey, Tír Chonaill, finished third in the Junior men’s 400m Hurdles in a time of 57.26secs.
Cormac O’ Donnell, Lifford-Strabane, took the bronze medal in the Junior men’s Hammer. Oisin Kelly, Cranford, competing at this level for the first time, produced his hallmark finishing sprint to pass many more experienced athletes to finish third in 1.54.05.
Lauren Callaghan, Finn Valley, was third in the Junior Women’s Long Jump in 5.49m.
There were many other very good performances by Donegal athletes who just missed out on medals but will have gained valuable experience athletes like Shane Breslin, Rachel Gallagher and Niamh Moohan Tír Chonaill, Jude Mc Crossan, Lifford-Strabane, Arlene Crossan, Cara Laverty, Oisin Toye, Sean Mc Ginley and Daniella Jensen, Finn Valley.
Donegal officials were also very conspicuous at the weekend with Tom Thompson, Seamus McGranaghan Eamon Harvey, Brian Mc Gonagle, Bernie O’ Callaghan, Brendan Mc Daid, Neil Martin, Dermot Mc Granaghan all acting as judges. They will all be on duty at the seniors, joined by Mary O’ Callaghan.
Next weekend the highlight of the athletic season the National Senior Championships take place in Santry.
Unfortunately, John Kelly, who suffered an injury in Sweden some week ago and as a result will miss most of the 2021 season.
Brendan Boyce is another who will not be in Santry at the weekend - he was home to compete in the National 20km walk in Tuam last week and has returned to Spain for altitude training in his quest for a medal in the 50km in Tokyo.
This weekend will also see a further step towards normality with 500 spectators on Saturday and two and a half hours of the championships will be broadcast live on RTE on Saturday evening from 2:30pm to 5pm.
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