Records tumble at 2018 All-Ireland Schools track and field

Sarah Healy breaks Ciara Mageean’s 1,500m record, Gary O’Hanlon wins Cork marathon

The fastest schoolboy in Irish athletics history, and the breaking of a record that appeared carved in stone. Aaron Sexton and Sarah Healy were the headline acts at 2018 All-Ireland Schools track and field championships in Tullamore, with plenty more in between.

The senior boys 100 metres has never been so hotly contested, Sexton, from Bangor Grammar School, clocking 10.52 seconds when taking the win - actually the same time as second-placed David McDonald from Wexford CBS.

They both dipped under the existing record of 10.59, set five years ago by Carlow student Marcus Lawlor. Sexton then completed a sprint double by winning the 200m in 21.12, with McDonald second again in 21.26. Sexton and McDonald are now the 14th joint-fastest on the Irish all-time list, brilliant running for schoolboy athletes give the Irish senior record was 10.58 back in 1996.

Conor Morey from PBC Cork clocked 10.74 in sixth, then got some consolation when combining with his Cork classmates to strike gold in the 4x100m relay with 44.14.


After 122 years of the championships, run across the 122 events and involving some 360 schools from around the country, the records continue to fall: perhaps none impressive this year than Sarah Healy from Holy Child Killiney, who improved the senior girls 1,500m record to 4:18.32, her brilliant front-running display bettering the Ciara Mageean’s previous record of 4:19.00, set in 2009, and which had gone untouched in the years since. Both Sexton and Healy were named athletes of the championships, and deservedly so.

On another day Ciara Neville of Castletroy College might have landed that honour - repeating her 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay treble from last year in the senior girls' age group, she also helped Castletroy to the senior girls' team title. Neville clocked 11.62 in the 100m, 23.79 in the 200m and combined with her teammates to anchor them home in 48.66 in the relay.

St Malachy’s Belfast were rewarded for their depth of performances in winning the senior boys College of Science trophy for the first time in their history.

Rhasidat Adeleke from Presentation Terenure also bagged double gold in the intermediate girls' 100m in 11.68 and the 200m in 24.05. Efrem Gidey from Le Cheile Tyrrelstown, less than a year after arriving in Ireland as a asylum seeker, won the senior boys 5,000m in 15:22.03, with Conall McClean from St Malachy's second in 15:27.17.

In the field, Nelvin Appiah from Moyne CS Longford soared to new heights in the intermediate boys' high jump with a best of 2.02m. Villanova-bound Charlie O'Donovan from Colaiset Chriost Ri in Cork also clawed back Darragh McElhinney from Colaistse Pobail Bantry in the last few strides of the senior boys 1,500m, winning in 3:55.97 to McElhinney's 3:57.03.

Davicia Patterson from Hunterhouse also continued her fine form to set a new record in the senior girls' 400m running 53.90, and she needed it to fend off Ciara Deely from Loreto Kilkenny, second in 54.33.

Meanwhile Irish national marathon champion Gary O’Hanlon won the 12th edition of the Cork City Marathon, clocking a new course record of 2:21:09.

The Dublin runner, representing Clonliffe Harriers, wasn’t bothered by the warm, humid conditions and the 43 year-old added the Cork title to his Irish title won in Dublin last October.

O'Hanlon made his decisive move around the 30km mark, and went on to break the course record of 2:22:11 set by Kenyan athlete Freddy Kearon in 2012. Mark Kirwin in 2:25:15, with Eoin Callaghan third in 2:26:06.

Afterwards O’Hanlon said: “I said to myself I’ve been in the Cork City Marathon four times and I was second twice and third once and I just said I had to win at some stage.

“I’m nearly 44 years of age so I mightn’t be here next year for it - this year was the year I said I’d give it a go, especially for my eleven month old son coming to his first marathon.”

The first women home was Zola Flynn from Calry Athletic Club in Sligo. It was Flynn's first marathon, clocked in 2:58:54.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics