Track & Field

Tón Le Gaoithe Roundup: Waterford Wind Blows Athletics In The Right Direction

Ireland’s first wind sprint meet Tón Le Gaoithe (Wind in your back) stayed true to its name with the weather gods delivering ideal conditions at the RSC track in Waterford. What ensued was two hours of personal bests, seasons bests and track records. It was evident from the start that things were going to go well, the relaxed atmosphere, music and large contingent of athletes and spectators added to the vibe, and the athletes duly delivered. Meet director Shane McCormack has compiled an extensive report from the meet for us, and you can watch race videos alongside it below.


Ben Reynolds and Gerard O’Donnell kicked things off in style with Ben running 13.72 just shy of his 13.61 season best clocking in loughborough over the weekend. O’Donnell was looking to kick start his domestic season and despite a bad start still clocked an impressive 14.13. It was obvious there was more to come from these two high-hurdlers, and they turned it on in style in the 2nd round, with Reynolds clocking 13.62 and O’Donnell running a new lifetimes best of 13.87, to move him to 5th on the Irish all-time list. The track and the meet was delivering on its promise. Andrew Creamer of Annalee AC took the third spot with a fine 15.52 and a close race for 4th between Oisin Fitzpatrick of Nenagh with 15.80 and Eoin Power making a strong return to the hurdles with 15.84.

Sandwiched between these two exhilarating races we had a feast of 100m races. Phil Healy kicked things off with a fine run of 11.68 seconds to take the win in a seasons best, and continues her fine return to form ahead of the nationals in 2 weeks. Healy was followed in by Catherine McManus, also in a seasons best of 11.84, with Sarah McCarthy of Mid Sutton in 3rd in a pb time of 11.93, and another seasons best for Claire Brady with 11.96.

Adam McMullan took the win in the men’s A race first round, with the World University long jump finalist taking a few notable scalps in the process. His 10.77 clocking was just ahead of European 400m semi finalist Richard Morrissey, who ran a new pb of 10.79, finishing like a train over the last 50m. Kieran Elliott, a member of the record breaking Irish u23 relay team, came in 3rd with 10.82, the same time as team mate Jonathon Browning. Eanna Madden, fresh from his first sub 48 400m over the weekend in Spain, took 5th spot with 10.84, just ahead of Keith Pike in 10.97. Both athletes also being members of the u23 relay team that took 5th spot in the European u23 champs. Dean Power and Eoin Muldowney completed a fantastic line up and ran close to the 11 second mark.

4 more men’s races ensued and athletes were picking up season bests and personal bests through each race.

The wind remained kind and fluctuated between 0.0 and 2.0, sprinters paradise. With an hour turn around between rounds of the 100m, there was great anticipation to see what could be delivered at the second time of asking.

Meanwhile, in the field events the athletes were determined not to be outshone by the track athletes. Barry Pender was soaring to a stadium record 2.13m leap in the high jump ahead of youngster Ben Donovan of Abbey Striders, just off his PB with 1.85m. Emily Rogers of St. Peters AC won the womens HJ with 1.65m, ahead of Ferrybank athlete Sorcha Murphy who cleared 1.60m. A great display of jumping in the RSC from a young group of athletes.

Barry Pender sails clear in the men's High Jump

Barry Pender sails clear in the men’s High Jump

Back to the track, and the eagerly anticipated 2nd round of sprints lived up to the hype. Kelly Proper lined up for the 2nd round of the women’s 100m and from the gun herself and Phil Healy had a great battle, with Proper pulling away in the later stages to take the win in a new PB and track record of 11.54, with another season best of 11.64 for Healy. Catherine McManus was third in 11.82, another seasons best.

The mens A race was without Morrissey and Madden who were resting up ahead of the mens invitational 200m, but the open lanes gave Eoin Walsh an opportunity of a top quality race as he moved up to the A race after a fine 11.01 clocking in round 1. Browning put on a show in the final clocking 10.59 a new life-time best and track record. Browning who has been in consistent 10.7 shape all season took the opportunity of a fast track and good conditions to execute a perfect race. He was pushed all the way however by relay team mate Kieran Elliott who also had a lifetime best of 10.66 for 2nd while first round winner Adam McMullan had to settle for 3rd, but with a consolation prize of a PB in 10.72. Keith Pike came home in 10.84, Adam Murphy 11.04 and Dean Power and Walsh crossed the line together in 11.08.

16 year old David McDonald took the B race win in a new best of 10.92. The young Menapian AC man took bronze in the national junior 100m earlier this month, and was part of the 4x100m relay squad that broke the national youth record last weekend at the Schools international meet in Scotland. Larry O’Reilly of Tullamore took 2nd with 11.12 and Niall Flanagan was 3rd in 11.16. The wind speed being 2.0 for this race, the blue lagoon of the RSC kept delivering for the athletes. Races 3 and 4 didn’t disappoint either with a raft of athletes running PBs and season bests.

Back on the well groomed infield of the RSC, which is home to Waterford United’s soccer team, and it was the javelin that was heating up for both men and women. National champions turned up, and didn’t fail to match the performances of the track. Anita White of DSD threw a seasons best of 46.50 as she continued her return to form after injury, and in the men’s event Rory Gunning and Jaco Oosthuysen battled it out for the top spots, both throwing 59m but Gunning edging it, 59.83m to 59.12m. Decathlete Shane Aston had a big 56.62 throw just ahead of Brendan Hyland of KCH with 54.65. A fine display to match the finely manicured RSC infield, a testament to Darren and the staff at the RSC who take fantastic care of this stadium.

The culmination of a great night was four 200m races, with some impressive fields toeing the line across the board. Kelly Proper was in search of the world and Olympic qualifying time (23.20) which she has been agonizingly close to all season. Kelly took the win on the night with an impressive 23.35 and with the consistency she is currently showing, that time is definitely within her reach over the next 2 weeks. Catherine McManus completed a very good day at the office with 2nd and a new best of 24.15 to Sarah McCarthy with 24.63. Sophie Becker continued her fine form over 200m as the young St. Josephs athlete from New Ross took 4th with 24.68 ahead of quarter mile specialists Sinead Denny and Ciara McCallion 24.71 to 24.94.

Brian Gregan stepped down a distance to compete in the mens 200m, after putting in a solid 45.98 run over his preferred 400m last weekend.  He came away with the win in a seasons best 21.26 seconds and again a perfect wind speed of 2.0 m/s. Eanna Madden ran close to his best with 21.47 while Kieran Elliott and Richard Morrisey had a great tussle down the home straight for 3rd spot, with Elliott just getting the nod in 21.55 to Morisseys 21.59. Brian Murphy made a rare appearance over the 200m distance, as the 400m specialist looks to tune up ahead of the national seniors in 2 weeks and had a solid run of 22.07, just ahead of Carlow man Adam Murphy in 22.10. Timmy Crowe took the win in the 2nd race with 21.97 and Midleton man Daniel Colbert took race 3 with a time of 22.36.

You can catch all the other race videos here with thanks to Brian McManus for the fantastic camerawork.

Special thanks to all the sponsors, officials and staff of the RSC for making this event possible and people can already look forward to the second instalment of TLG in 2016.

Keep up with the Tón Le Gaoithe meet on twitter here and Facebook here.

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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.

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