BY JOHN WALSHE
AMONGST the small number of Cork winners at the Irish Intervarsity T&F championships which took place at Cork IT was Bandon athlete Shane Howard and for his achievement the 22-year-od has been awarded the Cork City Sports Athlete of the Month award for April.
Representing the University of Limerick, Shane won the long jump with an impressive leap of 7.31m, giving him a clear 30cm winning margin over runner-up, Sam Healy of UCC. This distance was also a UL record although short of the 7.53m which he recorded indoors in Glasgow last January, a significant improvement on his previous best of 7.35m set last summer.
‘I was very happy to win the Intervarsity, although it didn’t go as well as I planned. That was my first jump but I broke after that but I’m definitely progressing at the event. I jumped 7.53m in Glasgow but I unfortunately picked up a bad illness afterwards and missed the Irish seniors,’ Howard said.
A native of Rathcormac, Shane originally was a member of Grange-Fermoy AC before joining Bandon. The reason was simple – all because of the coaching available at the club through Liz Coomey.
‘A lot of the improvement is down to my coach, Liz Coomey, who I have been working with for the last two years. I really owe everything to her; she puts in all the work with me,’ said Shane.
Original, his aim this year was to qualify for the World Student Games but a recent torn hamstring ruled out a chance of achieving the qualifying standard but he hopes to be back in action in time for the Irish championships later in the summer.
‘I also hope to be fit in time for the Cork City Sports [July 18th], it’s always an aim every year, it’s a great competition to compete in with a great atmosphere,’ he said.
His sister Roisin is also a member of the Bandon club and, like her brother, represented UL at the Intervarsities where she had a busy couple of days, competing in the 100m hurdles (fifth), long jump (seventh), shot putt (fourth), discus (sixth), javelin (sixth) and weight for distance (eighth).
In presenting the monthly award, Liam O’Brien, Technical Director of the Cork City Sports, praised Shane’s achievements, saying, ‘7.31m was an impressive jump when you take into account that very few Irish athletes have achieved that distance, to reach seven metres is really a benchmark for the event.’
Liz Coomey, who attended the awards ceremony, was also fulsome in praise of her athlete – one of many she coaches at the club, along with at Bandon GS.
‘Hopefully he’ll be my first Olympian,’ she said.
‘Shane comes down to me in Bandon to train. I coach all the events, apart from the javelin, and we have a 90 metre all-weather pitch at Bandon Grammar where we train.’
Shane Howard was accompanied at the awards ceremony by his parents, Cormac and Lorraine, brother Robbie and grandparents Dominic and Julie Smyth. The Cork City Sports Athletics Person of the Month Award is jointly sponsored by the Evening Echo, Cork 96FM & C103, LeisureWorld and The River Lee Hotel.