Enniskillen athlete Ciaran Dolan added the Irish Under-23 long jump title to his growing list of national honours at a cool and breezy Mardyke in Cork on Sunday morning.
Dolan, a former St Michael’s College athlete, had already won national honours at every age group from Under-14 to junior (Under-20) and added five Irish schools titles and the Northern Ireland senior title at the youthful age of eighteen in 2011.
In the last two seasons his progress has been somewhat stalled after a promising 2012 indoor season, due to a series of injuries, but now injury free for the first outdoor season since 2011 he is starting to show indications of the talent which saw him win AAA’s gold and compete at the European Youth Olympics.
On Sunday morning he left it late, as indeed he often does, his winning jump of 7.03m in the difficult blustery conditions, coming with his fifth round effort and just edging long time leader Sam Healy of Bandon AC who eventually took the silver with a best leap of 7.00m.
This Under-23 gold, his fifteenth Irish title indoors and out, means that the only national Long Jump titles Dolan has now to secure are the Irish senior titles.
If he stays injury free, as he is still only 21, Dolan, a medical student at Sheffield University, who credits his current good form to changes in diet in consultation with local nutritional expert Nuala Lilley, should have plenty of opportunities to attain what is a major target for every athlete, national senior gold, although it will not be in 2014 as Dolan returns to his medical placement for the next few weeks so missing the national senior Track & Field finals on July 19th and 20th.
Earlier in the week Dolan and another former St Michael’s student Mark Hoy had both produced personal best performances and solid placings at the Belfast International meeting at the Mary Peters track on Wednesday night.
Conditions were again cool and breezy as Dolan, jumping into a stiff headwind produced jumps of 7.12m and two efforts measured at 7.15m, all in excess of his PB of 7.10m set indoors in 2012, to finish second behind Adam McMullan, suggesting that a jump of 7.25m plus in better conditions might be on the cards before his season ends in a few weeks.
Hoy, who has had an excellent season to date, clocking PBs at 400m, 800m and 1500m and taking a number of national medals indoors and out, clocked a new mark of 1.50.20 in the 800m which was won by Kenyan athlete Reuben Bett.
While disappointed not to dip under the 1.50 barrier Hoy can look forward to next weeks big meeting in Letterkenny and the national seniors in Santry in two weeks time with some confidence and if he is able to negotiate the often tactical heats of the 800m successfully he can confirm his place as one of the brightest young middle distance athletes in the country at the moment.
Hopefully the success of both athletes and of Glenn Phair might provide the impetus for some others in the talented group of junior athletes from Fermanagh, of which they were part from 2005-2010, to get back into the sport and fulfil some of that youthful potential as these three have done so effectively in recent months.
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