Aaron Sexton grabbed the headlines at the All-Ireland Schools Track and Field championships as he prepares to move to Ulster rugby writes Paul O’Neill.
The Bangor Grammar student lived up to pre meet media coverage by producing two scintillating record-breaking 100 and 200m victories in the Senior Boys category.
Sexton lowered his own record figures of 10.52 set last year to 10.43, 80 minutes later jumped to the top of the European Junior rankings clocking 20.69 over 200m taking Marcus Lawler record from 2013.
This is likely to be one of the young man’s final appearances on Irish soil as he moves to playing professional rugby for Ulster post July’s European Junior Athletics Championships in Sweden.
There was so much happening across the day in the 122 event programme, Sarah Healy two time gold medallist at last year’s U18 European Championships, in her final schools event won the Senior Girls 3000m in a new championship record of 9:24.52 taking 19 seconds off the old figures.
Deirdre Murray (St Joseph’s Rochfortbridge) set a championship record in the Senior Girls 400m Hurdles clocking 60.03. In the Boys equivalent Tony O Connor of Naas ran an excellent time of 53.02.
Adrienne Gallen was the first of the field eventers to set a new record, the St Columba’s Stranorlar athlete had her best effort in the junior girls’ hammer measured at 57.24m.
Gallen also had the distinction of been added to the role of honour for daughter/mother schools title holders, mother Sharon (nee Foley) number four on the Irish all-time list in the High jump, won her first Irish Schools title in 1988.
The Pole Vault saw four records fall throughout the day, Jodie McGrath of St Mary’s Nenagh (Junior Girls), Conor Callinan Colaiste an Chraoi Naofa bettering Neil Young’s (RBAI) intermediate record which had stood since 1991, Emma Coffey (St Angelas Cork) in the intermediate girls with 3.61m and Matthew Keenan Callinan (GC Ceatharlach) setting new figures of 4.52m in the final field event of the day senior boys Pole Vault.
There was triple gold for Tralee athlete Mervyn Shalemba. He won the intermediate boys 100m and 200m, later then stepped up to help Mercy Mount Hawk win the senior boys’ 4x100m relay.
It was also a great day for promising Sligo sprinter Lauren Cadden, having taken Silver behind Patience Jumbo-Gula over 100, Cadden won the 200m and anchored her team Ursuline Sligo to 4x300m relay glory in new record figures of 2:50.85.
Another athlete from the West impressing was Liam Shaw. The Presentation Athenry student putt the 3kg shot out to 16.52m to erase the old meet record of 15.10 set last year in the Minor Boys age group.
Rhasidat Adeleke and Kate O Connor recorded double victories. Adeleke (Presentation Terenure) won the intermediate girls 100m and 200m, while multi eventer and Irish Junior Heptathlon record holder O’Connor won the senior girls high jump with 1.65m, the St Vincent Dundalk having earlier set a new record of 48.17m on her way to taking gold in the javelin.
Louis O’Loughlin (Moyle Park) and Cian McPhillips (Moate Community School) had a ding dong battle over 800m in the senior boys age group.
O’Loughlin coming out on top just pulling clear in the final 20m to win in 1:52.47 as McPhillips legs shut down and said no more but stayed on his feet to take silver.
Aimee Hayde of St Mary’s Newport, Tipperary produced a very impressive middle distance double with a brave run to win the intermediate girls 800m in a new record of 2:09.80 and later came back to win the 1500m in 4:37.31.
There were some intriguing doubles also during the day none more than from Tadgh Connolly of Abbey Community College winning the 1500m after winning the Discus in the junior boys age group.
These are not two events you would often pair together let alone see an athlete win both
In the Minor Boys Finn O’Neill paired the 800m and 75m hurdles. Another talented multi eventer, the student from Limavady Grammar set new championship records of 2:05.32 and 11.19 seconds.
Darragh McElhinney of Colaiste Pobal Bantry fresh from his Irish U20 Record over 5000m last weekend stepped down to 1500m where he won the Senior Boys title in controlled fashion
Davicia Patterson was a class apart, as the Hunterhouse took the senior girls’ 400m in a new championship best of 53.35.
There were some great performances from athletes from this region. Brother and Sister Aisling and Oisin Lane took the Junior Girls and Senior Boys Walks title, there was impressive victories from Casey Mulvey of St Clare’s Ballyjamesduff in the Inter Girls Discus.
Molly Coffey O Connor took the first Schools title back to Clones, the Largy College athlete won the Junior Girls discus by over three and three quarter metres there was also a schools title that went to Armagh with Joseph Haynes of the Royal School winning the Inter Boys 1500m Steeplechase.