BY JOHN WALSHE
AS in the South Munster Schools’ the previous week, records continued to tumble at the Irish Life Health/Munster Schools’ Championships which took place in sunny but windy conditions at Cork IT.
One of the most impressive came in the intermediate girls’ hammer event where Nicola Tuthill of Coláiste na Toibhirte, Bandon, added over six metres to the previous best with a throw of 57.06m.
Ciara Sheehy (St Mary’s, Charleville) also surpassed the old record with her mark of 53.51, along with setting a new shot putt record of 14.76m.
In the senior girls’ 3000m, Laura Nicholson of Bandon Grammar School set out with a fast time in her sights and succeeded when setting a new record of 9:45.91.
Her margin of victory was over one minute faster and although the 19-year-old – who takes up an athletics scholarship at Temple University in Philadelphia this autumn – has run faster indoors, this was a new outdoor personal best.
Similar tactics were adopted by Darragh McElhinney in the senior boys 1500m. After going through the motions to qualify at the South Munsters, the Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí athlete showed he meant business on this occasion when covering the first lap under 60 seconds. Reaching 800m in 2:01, he slowed somewhat on the third lap but finished strongly to cross the line in a time of 3:49.42.
This bettered the impressive previous mark of 3:50.54 held by Sean Tobin since 2013 and was just outside McElhinney’s person best of 3:48.05 from 2017.
‘To be honest, I underestimated the wind a small bit,’ he admitted afterwards. ‘I was trying to run 60-second laps but found it a bit hard down the back straight but I’m happy with that, it’s a good opener.’
Gavin Kenny (Hamilton HS) finished third behind McElhinney, his time of 4:11.85 showing good recovery after finishing second earlier in the day in the 2000m steeplechase.
Aisling Cassidy of Bandon Grammar won the senior triple jump with a leap of 11.32m, just a centimetre short of the record, and she also took silver in the long jump.
Lauren McCourt – also Bandon Grammar – ran a fine 25.52 in winning the intermediate 200m and finished second in the 100m behind Lucy Sleeman from Coláiste Choilm Ballincollig.
In the intermediate girls’ 300m, Meabh O’Neill of MICC, Dunmanway, wasn’t too far off the record with her time of 41.03. She also took second in the 1500m behind Aimee Hayde (St Mary’s SS, Newport) who earlier in the afternoon had run the fastest 800m ever by a schoolgirl at Munster level with her time of 2:07.74.
The Irish Life Helath/Irish Schools championships take place on Saturday, June 1st, at Tullamore where no doubt many more medals will be won and records established by this outstanding crop of young athletes.