Rarely if ever has Tullamore been blessed with a day sent straight from track and field heaven, Adam Nolan among the standout athletes to duly respond with some sparkling performances of his own.
Part of the fun in watching the annual showcase of pure athletics talent that is the Irish Schools Championships is wondering what they might all become, and Nolan it seems has a choice of events on the track and field.
Saturday’s day-long programme again showcased ample evidence of emerging Irish talent, and Nolan, who only last Saturday ran an Irish Under-20 record of 13.89 for the 110m hurdles, obliterated that record in the hot sunshine, clocking a magnificent 13.70 – a Senior Boys Schools record to boot.
No wonder Nolan afforded himself the opportunity to be photographed beside his winning time on the finishing clock. Later, the student at Scoil Chonglais in Wicklow came back to win the long jump, Nolan’s best being 6.74m, his future as bright as the blazing sunshine throughout the day.
The coveted honour of Ireland’s fastest schoolboy this year went to Sean Aigboboh from High School, who powered through in the second half of the race, opening his lenghty stride Usain Bolt-esque, winning the Senior Boys title in 10.67 seconds.
Jamie Moffat from Bangor Grammar School was first out of the blocks, but had to be content with bronze, in 10.88, the same time as Jesse Osas from Dunshaughlin, awarded second.
Ireland’s fastest schoolgirl is Sophie Parlor from Thornhill College in Derry, something of a surprise perhaps, though utterly convincing, Parlor first out of the blocks and unflinching in her sprint to the line, winning in 12.43 seconds. The fast-finishing Fatima Amusa from Bishopstown came through for second in 12.45, getting some redemption later when winning the Senior Girls 200m, her 25.01 fine sprinting in the day too.
With 1,002 individual athletes, across 122 finals, from 393 schools, the action was non-stop, one of the standout performances in the field coming in the Senior Boys pole vault, where Joshua Fitzgerald from Colaiste Muire in Crosshaven improved the championship best performance to 4.53m, just one centimetre higher than the previous mark, his future also unquestionably bright too.
Conditions weren’t ideal for anything super-fast in distances over 400m, only that didn’t bother Freya Bateman of Mount Mercy in Cork, who took completely rewrote the Minor Girls 800m mark with her winning time of 2:08.99, taking an unheard of five and a half seconds off the previous record – faster, incidentally, then the junior and intermediate record too.
The last individual race happened to be the longest, the Senior Boys 5,000m over 12 and a half laps without a hint of shade, and Jonas Stafford was clearly intent on getting it over as quickly as possible. After sitting in for a lap and half, Stafford hit the front and never looked back, lapping some of the field by the end, the student from East Glendalough winning in 14:45.95, some 100m clear of second-placed Billy Coogan of CBS Kilkenny, who won the steeplechase on Friday.
For the one-lap specialists, David Mannion went out fastest in the Senior Boys race, only to be hauled in down the homestretch by David Bosch from Wesley College, winning in 48.28, with Joe Doody of CBC Monkstown nailing seconds; Mannion ended up third, twin brother Stephen, also of Seamount Kinvara, coming through for fourth.
It was a proper brotherly affair in the one-lap hurdles, Fintan Dewhirst first winning the Senior Boys title in 55.19, before younger brother Ethan, also from St Columbus Glenties, won the Intermediate title in 56.09.
In the blue-riband event, Lughaidh Mallon from Rathmore Belfast adopted the Jakob Ingebrigtsen tactics, pressing in front and softly killing the runners behind him, and coming home with plenty to spare, while in the Intermediate Girls, Emma Bolton from Mount Sackville earned some her redemption too, after finishing second in the 3,000m behind Clodagh Gill (St Marys College Ballina), her 66-second last lap super impressive, her winning time 4:41.75.
Such is the depth of talent some events took place on Friday evening, and talk about the next generation: Savanagh O’Callaghan, from Mercy College Tuam, lead from the front in the Intermediate Girls 2,000m walk, winning in 9:36.15, following in her father Pierce’s footsteps who claimed the Intermediate Boy’s title in 1992.
Back in the field, Max Clover of Bandon Grammar won an exciting Junior Boys long jump, his best being 11.46m, with Fionn Brennan of Tyndall College also impressing in the Minor Boys shot put, winning with a best of 12.87m.
The highlight of the relays was St Brendan’s Killarney winning the Senior Boys 4x400m, clocking an excellent 3:27.69, with Ratoath College winning the Senior Girls 4x100m in 48.33.