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Mannion and Renton star in 800m finals at National Juvenile Indoors

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By Damian Lawlor

On Day 3 of the National Juvenile Indoors there were some fantastic performances by the young athletes in action and the high standard is demonstrated by the fact that two 800m races saw Championship Best Performances (CBP) and in a number of other 800m races the CBPs hung on by a thread.

The first 800m final to line up in Athlone was the Under 14 Girls race. The race started with the usual frantic first lap but settled then and the field covered the first 400m in 69 seconds. Nellie Bateman of Belgooly AC was sitting in the lead pack from the start and seemed happy to wait until the latter stages of the race. When Isabelle Hanrahan from Castlebar AC moved from fourth up to first she looked like she had done enough but the patient young Bateman was able to overhaul her near the end. Bateman’s time of 2:19.43 a solid mark after the conservative middle laps. Hanrahan finished second while Tara Hunt from Bohermeen held on for a bronze medal after a good tactical race.

In the Under 14 Boys race Cillian Galvin of Mullingar Harriers made the early running and after going through 200m in 32 seconds and 400m in 65 seconds only Darragh Whelan of Limerick AC was still contending with the young Westmeath athlete for gold. Whelan tried to pass Galvin a number of times in the last two laps and when he finally got clear he was only able to gain a very narrow advantage as Galvin fought all the way to the line. Meanwhile Daire Beacroft of Fr Murphy’s AC ran a very controlled race to earn his All Ireland bronze medal.

Thrilling 800m finals at National Juvenile Indoors

Fresh from her success at the Schools International cross country Freya Renton of Westport AC was eager to demonstrate that her talent was equally as demonstrable in indoor track racing. After an opening 400m of 63 seconds Renton had a lead of five metres. A lap later the lead had increased to fifteen metres and while Aisling Kelly of Ennis Track AC closed in a bit on the final lap Renton still looked comfortable winning by two seconds in a time of 2:12.12. Kelly picked up silver and Tara Rose Smith of Mid Sutton AC won bronze.

Robert Gleeson of Newbridge AC was quick to take the lead in the Under 15 Boys 800m and and at the end of a 29 second first lap he had a lead of a metre or so and looked in control. The lead did not increase by much in the following two laps which were 33 and 32 seconds respectively but as Gleeson heard the bell there was an explosion of pace and within a hundred metres his lead was extended to seven metres and he continued to push all the way to the line, running a lightening quick 2:03.93. Alan Hallinan of Craughwell AC and T-Jay Flanagan of Craughwell AC picked up silver and bronze respectively.

In the Under 15 Girls race after a frantic start Freya Bateman of Belgooly AC had the lead after the first hundred metres but then the pace slowed markedly and the girls passed 200m in a 34 seconds. As the race continued Bateman remains at the front with the long striding Faye Mannion of Ennis Track AC shadowing her all the way. It is only in the finishing straight that Mannion kicked past Bateman to win in 2:12.08 just marginally faster than the time run in the Under 15 Girls race minutes earlier. Bateman too runs 2:12 while Eabha Brennan from Newbridge AC holds on for a hard earned bronze medal.

Daniel Downey of Portlaoise AC was out fast too and was happy to take up the lead in the U16 Boys 800m, a position he holds right until the bell. On hearing the bell Jack Gilmartin of Celbridge AC sprints past Downey and has a narrow lead. Downey though had not given up and with one hundred metres to go he’s back in the lead and goes on to finish in 1:59.52 almost two seconds ahead of Gilmartin in second. Charlie O’Neill of Donore Harriers has recovered well from his 1500m race the previous day to finish third.

In what proved to be a very tactical Girls Under 17 800m Sholah Lawrence of Ace AC took up the lead in the first lap with Clare Casey of Foyle Valley AC on her shoulder and Emily Bolton of Donore Harriers following closely. The second lap was covered in a pedestrian 43 seconds and it was only in the last three hundred metres that the pace picked up. With Bolton and Casey neck and neck throughout the last lap it came right down to the finishing straight where Casey managed to pull clear of Bolton by half a second. Lawrence had positioned herself well early on and held on for a well deserved bronze medal.

In the Under 17 Boys race Lorcan Forde Dunne of Ace AC set a fast pace from the outset covering the first two laps in 59 seconds with Liam Morris of Donore Harriers on his heels. In the sprint for the line Morris was able to edge past Forde Dunne although by celebrating a tad early it resulted in a much closer finish with only .05 of a second separating them. Jacob Ciomek of Lucan Harriers raced well to win a bronze medal.

The first two laps of the Under 18 Girls race was a tactical affair and as the pack reached the finish line there were four athletes running shoulder to shoulder at the front. Pia Langton then sprinted into a lead, followed by Gemma Galvin from Ennis. Galvin waited until the last straight to make her move and was able to ease past Langton to win in 2:13.59. Isabel Cuffe from Lucan Harriers raced well tactically to be able to move up to third over the last lap, a position better than she had finished the day before in the 1500m.

In the Under 18 Boys 800m Caolan McFadden of Cranford AC was fast out at the start but despite passing 400m in 58 seconds, Odhrán O’Sullivan of Midleton AC was still well placed. O’Sullivan took the lead after another one hundred metres but McFadden despite being a metre down continued to fight. With one hundred metres to go he got back past O’Sullivan and looked comfortable crossing the line in 1:55.42.

Nicole Dinan of Leevale AC seemed unsure on the first lap of the Girls Under 19 800m of what tactics to employ but as the pack crossed the line in 35 seconds, Dinan took on the lead and within a lap had stretched that out to ten metres and at the bell she was more than twenty metres in front of the chasing pack and went on to win in 2:16.45. Eve Mooney of Ratoath AC was second and Dinan’s club mate Zoe Conway finished third.

Oisin Lynch of Killarney Valley AC waited until three hundred metres into the Under 19 Boys race to take the lead but once he did he was able to build a considerable lead. At the bell Lynch had a lead of ten metres and seemed at his ease, so much so that he was waving to the crowd all the way down the finishing straight. Alan Hegarty of Castlebar AC and Matthew Fitzpatrick of Dunleer AC both raced well to finish second and third respectively.

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