Indoor Track & Field

New kids on the block; the stars who lit up Athlone

The GloHealth Junior and Under-23 championships last Sunday (25th) served up an array of stellar performances from the best of Ireland’s young athletes. In what was planned to be a short piece about the highlights of the day, we were reminded of just how much quality was on show. While it is still very much early season, even as indoors go, it will serve as a good gauge of how the winter training has progressed. For many of the athletes competing  it was their first competition of the year, which inevitably leads to some rustiness in the blocks or adjustments on the run-ways, but overall it was a high-quality affair. And the good news for those who had an off-day is: it’s January – indoors will run on until March, plenty more weekends to spend on the blue banks in Athlone.


Sean O’Driscoll

In one of the upsets of the day, Raheny’s O’Driscoll took the junior 60m title by mere thousandths of a second from pre-race favourite Zak Irwin. Both crossed the line in 6.90, two hundredths outside Keith Doherty’s national record from 2014. With a bronze in the 200m and, an overall PB of 22.10 to boot, it’s looking promising for the young athlete for his favoured 100m come outdoors. Interview with Sean here.
– 60m final here


Kevin McGrath

Fresh from his 16th birthday the young Bohermeen A.C. man caught the old guard napping to put in a classy display in the U20 1500m. Moving to the front with consumate ease and delivering a devasting kick to leave an athlete of considerable talent, Andrew Coscoran, in his wake, he’ll certainly be one to watch out for at the age-group championships this indoors as well as the Irish Schools come summer time.
– 1500m final here


Jenna Bromell

Bromell took out the junior women’s 400m hard from lane 6 and just kept on going. The stagger never unwound for the athletes inside her and the rangy Limerick lady strode home to victory in an impressive 56.14, three seconds clear of the field. This is her second fastest time ever and looks good for a strong indoor season as well as her chances of reaching the European Juniors, with 55.50 the B-standard required.
– 400m final here

Harry Purcell

After stealing the show at the Irish Schools last year but leaving in an ambulance after tearing his hamstring, Purcell returned to competitive action in fine style. He showed tactical nuance beyond his years to control the junior 800m and deliver a blistering last 200m to take the title. We also caught up with him last week in an interview that you can read here.
– 800m final here


Phil Healy

Healy was unfortunate to be disqualified from the 60m final but was lucky enough to have a second race scheduled which allowed her to equal her season’s best of 7.41. Returned to the track later in the day to set an indoor 200m PB of 24.20 when taking the U23 title. With a PB of 7.36 over the 60m, she’ll need to equal or better that over the coming weeks to qualify for the European Indoor championships. Interview with Phil here.
– 60m race here


Paul Murphy

Murphy stormed through the first 200m of his 400m final in around 22.5 and held on strongly to cross the line in 48.03. Having narrowly missed out on world junior qualification last summer the Ferrybank man will have his sights set on the European equivalent this July with one B standard already bagged. With this solid opener there’s also the possibility of European indoors (47.20) as an individual or indeed as a 4x400m relay member.
– 400m final here


Marcus Lawler

21.33 for Lawler in the U23 200m final really set Athlone alight and was hopefully a sign of things to come from the Carlow man this season. Having set National junior records in the past two indoor seasons it’s been a good barometer of things to come. The 2014 outdoor season didn’t go quite as planned for Lawler with the world juniors in Oregon coming to an end in the heats with a 21.58 performance, however he seems to have put that well behind him with European U23’s in July high on the priority list.
– 200m final here


Sam Healy 

The Junior men’s 60mH was touted as one of the match-ups of the day and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Sam Healy arrived to the start line fresh from a long jump victory (7.24m), and with his own national junior record in his sights. However, he was never going to have it his own way with Crusaders’ Matthew Behan in the lane beside him. These two powerful young hurdlers put in one of the displays of the 2014 summer when Healy edged  Behan to the 110mH  Junior title 14.11 to 14.12, both inside the world junior B standard. Last Sunday Healy managed  to put a bit more daylight between the pair, running a blistering 7.89 to smash his own record, as well as the fourth hurdle. Both athletes will be hot prospects for the European Junior championships in 2015 if they even reach the same form as last summer, but they’ll undoubtedly push well beyond that. A hurdles rivalry that we’ve been lacking in the past and should push both athletes to greater performances.
– 60m hurdles record here


Sean Lawlor
U19 sprinter Lawlor handed Zak Irwin his second upset of the day when he blasted to an indoor PB of 21.86. From lane 4 he had the main protagonists outside him and used them to full advantage. The young Donore man will surely take great confidence from defeating these older athletes and could even prove to be a factor come the national senior championships next month.
– 200m final here


John Kelly

The Finn Valley strong-man took the junior men’s (6kg) shot put title with the utmost of ease, 5 metres clear of the field. With a put of 17.65m he was marginally off his own previous best, the national junior record of 17.80m, but with plenty more action to come this indoors he may even secure a European Junior B standard (17.95) all going well.


Ciara Neville
Possibly the busiest athlete of the day, Neville came away with two Junior titles, the 60m and 60m hurdles. She also contested the 200m where she finished 6th in the final in her 5th race of the day. With a 60m time of 7.58 she proved to be the fastest female of the day, excluding Phil Healy’s open race win, upstaging talented elders like Sarah Lavin and Cliodhna Manning. Competing in the U17 age group this year she’ll have another three years to retain these Junior titles – a promising future ahead.
– 60m race here

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Marcus Lawler and Zak Irwin going head-to-head in 2014. Photo: Kieran Carlin
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Gerard O'Donnell

Gerard O'Donnell

Gerard O'Donnell is an athlete, physical therapist, and MSc student. He is current national 110m hurdles champion and ranks 3rd & 5th on the Irish all-time list for the sprint hurdles events. He is occasionally referred to as GOD, not due to his initials, but because of his heavenly beard, which he has sported since the age of 5.


  1. john maye
    January 27, 2015 at 10:08 pm — Reply

    8/11 sprinters! Some bias here!
    Kevin Mcgrath performance of the day. Luke Hickey 12 min for 3k walk probably worthy of inclusion too!

  2. Dave Sweeney
    January 28, 2015 at 1:54 am — Reply

    It would be hard to omit Michaela Walsh in Junior Girls Shot, winning with 13.16m (PB with 4kg) and still Under 18.

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