Leinster Relays, Greystones, 22nd May 2016

Leinster Relays, Greystones, 22nd May 2016

Aren’t relays great excitement?   There’s added pressure on the athlete as they run as part of a team which is out of the ordinary for them as they usually only have to worry about themselves on the track.  Then, throw in the added complexity of having to get this plastic cylinder thing around the track without dropping it, and it makes for a really exciting spectacle…once it’s not you running it of course!  To the athlete they are stressful, pressurised affairs and nerves rise to a new level prior to the gun going off.

On Saturday 21st May, Greystones AC hosted the Leinster Interclub Juvenile relay championships at their picturesque six lane tartan track.  Six lanes??  Yes six lanes…..qualification for finals, if not difficult enough at the insanely competitive standard of Leinster level would be made more difficult again with only six teams qualifying.

Dunboyne AC had four talented teams competing on the day.  All four had medals in their pockets already from the Meath Relay Championships the previous Wednesday, but this was a whole different level.   Our under 11 boys were first into action as the sun shone brightly.  Mathieu Kiefer and Ciaran McCormack were joined by relative relay novices in Jed Collins and, moving up from under 10, Dillon Ryan.  They were ably supported by Darragh Harrison as the alternate runner who was ready to step in to the team in case of injury.  This group of five are a talented bunch but nerves were very evident as they warmed up and practiced the baton drills.

Two Semi-finals were held with the first two and the two fastest losers getting their chance to run for the medals.  The boys lined up in the first heat and finished 2nd in the faster heat to qualify for the final.  The qualifying times here raised some eyebrows as overall it was extremely quick.  Our boys were 3rd fastest of all the teams, so hopes were high that a medal could be won.  In the final, the boys ran brilliantly.  The change overs were smooth, if not spectacular, and in an extremely close race they delivered a Leinster Bronze medal, improving on their semi-final time in the process as their coaches had demanded of them.  It was simply great running by all the team here.  When the times came through we saw that the boys ran 59.6 seconds.  That time would have been good enough to win a gold medal every year for the last eight years (that’s as far back as I had results for!).  A bumper year of under 11’s it seemed so it puts their fabulous performance in perspective.  The work starts now for All Irelands.  Well done lads.

Our Under 13’s Girls were next up.  This group were coming into this race full of confidence after running a PB when winning gold in the Meath Championships last Wednesday.  Lucy Eglington, Derval McNicholas, Loreana Harrison and Rachel Norman had finally landed a Meath title and were hungry for more.  They were supported by Kayla Ryan who was the alternate on the day, ready and willing to do battle if required. Again nerves were very evident among the girls as they warmed up but all four were noticeably determined and focused on the job at hand as they made their way out for their heat.  Three Semi-finals with only the winners qualifying meant that there could be no mistakes here, such is the standard at this level.  The girls produced a smooth run to impressively win their heat in another PB.  The times of the finalists were all very fast. The girls were 3rd fastest of the qualifiers but nothing separated the top five qualifying times.  An epic race was in store and fingers were crossed.  Before the final the girls were challenged by their coaches to post another PB and this they did.  In a close race the girls produced a fantastic run and a very smooth set of changeovers.  This got them into the battle up the straight for a medal and at the finish they won a hugely impressive and well deserved Bronze in 56.4 seconds.  A brilliant run from our girls, who will now also represent your club on the national stage later this summer.  Well done girls.

Our under 13 boys team were also coming off the back of a Gold medal at Meath level last week.  Cian Smith and Ross Lyons were joined by relative relay new comers in Pablo Mendoza and Donal Dempsey.  All four boys are very talented athletes in their own right and in this extremely competitive age group it was hoped a final appearance could be achieved.  Three Semi-finals, with only winners guaranteed to progress, would make qualification ultra-difficult.  Our boys were in the third heat which turned out to be the fastest one.  The eventual gold medal winners won this heat with the boys running extremely well to finish 3rd in a close run race.  Then came the nervous wait for the times and when it was released, it showed an extremely unlucky Dunboyne team missing out on the final by 0.24 of a second and finishing in 7th place overall.  These pesky six-lane tracks!!!  The boys should be proud of their run at this hugely competitive level.  We know there a lot more to come from this group.  Well done lads.

Our 4th and final team competing on the day was our talented under 12 Girls team.  They had achieved a hard earned silver medal in Meath last week in what is probably the most competitive relay age group in the county with three super talented club teams taking each other on at county and provincial levels.   The Dunboyne team was made up of Sinead Magee, Aideen Reilly, Aleah Kelly, Laura Gavin and her sister Serena Gavin who was the alternate runner as she recovers from a foot injury.  A very fast group of girls who we hoped would perform to the level we know they can.  Three semi-finals again meant only winners were guaranteed final spots.  The rest would go to the clock for the three next fastest.  In heat 2 our girls were drawn with county champions Ratoath AC who had an extremely strong quartet.  Our girls matched them all the way and went down fighting in 2nd place but in a very fast time, in fact the record was broken by Ratoath AC here.  Unsurprisingly our girls’ time was good enough to make the final as 4th fastest.  Cushinstown had broken the record too in their heat to make the final as 2nd fastest illustrating the depth of talent within Meath at this age group.   With these times in the heats, the final was going to be crazy quick particularly with four teams running amazing times in qualifying.  The girls would need to run faster in the final to get amongst the medals and boy did they do just that.  A fantastic run and sequence of change overs saw them in a titanic battle up the straight with Kilkenny City Harriers and Cushinstown for  second place behind Ratoath who won it setting a new record again in the process.  It was so close that the teams could only be separated by a photograph with Kilkenny grabbing silver and Dunboyne AC earning a brilliant Bronze, finishing just ahead of county compatriots Cushinstown.  What a race.  When the dust settled and the times came out it showed that the first four teams had all broken the previous record and it also showed that our girls had improved on their semi-final time by 1.27 seconds which was a massive performance.  This was a serious achievement by this team in an unbelievably high quality race.  Well done girls and again it’s onwards and upwards to the All Irelands.

Saturday was a hugely proud day for our club.  From 4 teams, our talented athletes won three medals with the other team just missing out on a final by just 2 tenths of a second.  All the athletes did themselves and their club proud.  The coaches are extremely proud of them, not just for their performances (which were amazing) but for how they conduct themselves generally.  They are a joy to work with.  Thank you to the parents who travelled down on Saturday too.  Their continuing commitment is vital and very much appreciated.  Also big thanks to Fergal who was our official for the day.

Click HERE to view some photos.










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