ATHLETICS | St Gerard’s AC starlets storm to All Ireland gold

U11 athletes take four gold and one silver back to Dundalk

The St Gerard’s AC All Ireland winning U11 girls team of Meabh O’Connor, Enya Silkena, Tara O’Connor and Grainne Moran

The athletes of Dundalk St Gerard’s AC were in action on two fronts on Saturday last.

In Tullamore, Cara Miele and Zariah Faapito were in action in the U9 pairs turbo javelin alongside Meabh O’Connor, Enya Silkena, Grainne Moran and Tara O’Connor who lined out in the U11 pairs long jump, turbo javelin, 60m and 600m as well as the 4x100m relay.

Elsewhere, in Santry’s Morton Stadium, Patience Jumbo-Gula and Kate O’Connor were representing Leinster in the annual Tailteann Games Schools Interprovincial competition with Patience having the added honour of captaining the Leinster girls team.

All Ireland Pairs

First off were Zariah and Cara in the U9 turbo javelin and both girls gave a good account of themselves in their first experience of national competition and will benefit from all they learned along the way.

In the U11 turbo javelin, Meabh and Enya were on top of their game and with the two longest throws of the competition they put the issue beyond doubt to claim a great gold medal. In the long jump, they both exceeded four meters, showing great consistency to take another gold medal.

St Gerard’s AC’s Zariah Faapito and Cara Miele enjoying the All Ireland Pairs in Tullamore

In the 60m, Grainne and Tara kept the unbelievable sequence of results going against stiff opposition. With brilliant displays of sprinting the girls took an unbelievable third gold medal. In the 600m, the girls once again performed brilliantly with two new PBs to take a super bronze medal.

With the individual events out of the way it was time for the relay contests. Having taken bronze and silver in the past two years the team were looking to complete the set with a victory.

With a great run they swept into the final as fastest qualifiers, however, the four top teams that got through had less than a second between them. Another power packed display from the talented group of girls saw them fly home to win impressively and complete a brilliant day for the club.

With five events for each age group, the girls took four golds and a bronze medal in a remarkable and memorable achievement.

Tailteann Games

Having recently shown she is returning to something near her best, Patience Jumbo-Gula was ready to put her best foot forward for Leinster in the 100m at the inter provincial Tailteann Games.

The contest brought together some athletes who had recently finished ahead of her in the All Ireland Schools finals.

Despite giving the leaders a few metres at the start, Patience showed all the character and leadership qualities which saw her being chosen as team captain for Leinster.

St Gerard’s AC’s Tara O’Connor and Grainne Moran who won the U11 girls 60m and were third in the 600m at the All Ireland Pairs in Tullamore

She executed the second part of the race in a much more efficient manner and took the lead late on to snatch a great win in a new PB of 12.07 seconds.

In the relay, Patience was to the fore again, running an excellent second leg to help the team to another win and collect the overall team trophy for the province in the girls competition.

Kate O’Connor continued her fantastic season by taking part in three events on the day.

In the 200m, although a multi event athlete and from a tough draw in lane one, she put up a superb performance against the specialist sprinters to take second and lower the colours of a few highly rated performers.

In the shot putt, another silver medal was coupled with another new PB of 14.54m.

In the javelin, Kate was in great form with a best of 47.63m which gained her a new PB and competition record.

The brilliant performance in the javelin saw the inaugural awarding of the Ailish Sheehan Cup, donated by her parents.

St Gerard’s AC’s Enya Silkena and Meabh O’Connor who won the U11 girls turbo javelin and long jump at the All Ireland Pairs in Tullamore

The award was a poignant reminder of the fragility of life. Ailish’s dreams of qualifying for the Olympics were cruelly snatched from her, just as she was emerging as one of Ireland’s great future hopes in world rowing.

On September 4th last, Ailish stood on the winner’s podium in Poznan, Poland, proudly holding aloft her World Universities Championship bronze medal as part of the Great Britain Universities team.

Hours later, she was on a life-support machine in hospital after falling and hitting her head while out celebrating her victory. On September 9th, she died surrounded by her heartbroken family.

Early on in her career at Dooneen Athletics Club, Ailish won national titles in ball throw, shot putt and javelin and had represented Ireland.

Kate’s call-up

St Gerard’s AC’s Kate O’Connor

There was another first for Kate during the week when she received her first senior international call up.

Kate is part of the three-women heptathlon team that will represent Ireland in the European Combined Events Cup in Monzon, Spain on July 1st and 2nd. Kate will be joined by another Louth athlete, Boyne AC’s Amy McTeggart who has also been selected.

This is a great achievement by both girls and a very proud day for all involved in athletics in the county.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.