BY JOHN WALSHE
THREE West Cork athletes who excelled at the national senior championships the previous weekend were back in record-breaking form at the South Munster Schools T&F Championship that took place for senior athletes only at the MTU in Bishopstown.
Maeve O’Neill of MICC, Dunmanway, the national U20 champion over 800m, has been improving on every outing this season over the two-lap distance, culminating in a brilliant 2:08.57 for eight place at the national seniors at Santry. In what was virtually a solo time trial in Cork, she knocked over a second from that to cross the line in the very warm conditions with the clock showing 2:07.47.
This was also inside the ‘B’ standard for the European U20 championships which take place in Tallin, Estonia, this month, a championship that the 17-year-old Doheny athlete had already qualified for as a member of the 4 x 400m relay team. She has been selected to compete in both events at the European U20s.
As well, it was an improvement of almost seven seconds on the previous South Munster best of 2:14.1 held by none other than Sonia O’Sullivan. The Cobh athlete had set the record in 1987, the year she had first made a major impact on the Irish athletics scene when winning the senior cross-country title at the age of 17.
In an appropriate link to the former world champion and Olympic silver-medallist, it is worth noting that Maeve’s mother Anna (nee Collins) was a contemporary and team-mate of Sonia’s from those days on a number of Irish schools’ cross-country teams.
Lauren McCourt of Bandon Grammar School – who had finished sixth in that dramatic 200m won by Phil Healy the previous Sunday at Santry – was also in record-breaking form. In ideal conditions for sprinting, but again without any real opposition, she improved on the afore-mentioned Healy’s 2013 time of 24.61 to set a 200m championship best of 24.28.
And another Bandon athlete, Nicola Tuthill of Coláiste na Toirbhirte, continued her brilliant hammer throwing when adding over 12 metres to the previous record with her throw of 59.73m. In actual fact, Nicola surpassed the old mark set by Maureen O’Neill from Kanturk in 2013 on each of her five throws.
Dylan Roberts (Bandon GS) picked up two silver medals in the 100m and 200m, the short sprint being won by James Excel-Ezeonu of Midleton College. He maintained a remarkable sequence of sprint winners since M Foley of Farrenferris took the 100 yards back in 1929, the first year that these South Munster Schools took place.