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Glory for Mahon and Morrison at national level

By Paul O’Neill

As the rain beat down at the Schools’ Inter Provincial Championships on Friday, the Northern Ireland Masters on Saturday and at the National Senior Track and Field Championships on Saturday and Sunday, the conditions made life extremely difficult for athletes and officials.

The Schools’ Inter Provincial in Tullamore on Friday saw Annabelle Morrison from Enniskillen Royal Grammar School run the race of her life in the girls 300m to take a very impressive victory with a new personal best.

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Morrision was in total control of this race either sitting on the shoulder of the leader or at the front forcing the pace. This persistence paid off as she gradually burned off the opposition one by one and over the final 150m raised her game to sprint clear of Munster athlete, Claire Crowley, to take maximum points for Ulster winning in 10:05.58 with Leinster’s Holly O Brien in third.

Annabelle Morrison of Enniskillen Royal Grammar School pictured here running for Ulster in white vest, on her way to a very impressive victory in the Girls 3000m at the Schools Inter Provincial in Tullamore on Friday last.

“ The aim was to get out there and be competitive and hang on for as long as I could” said Morrison afterwards. “It turned out that I felt comfortable and went to the front on a few occasions to force the pace and when I had got rid of them, all bar one, I wasn’t going to go down without a fight in the home straight and I’m thrilled with the win.”

In the boys 1500m, Frank Buchanan also put in an excellent performance with the St Michael’s College athlete setting a lifetime best of 4:06.43 to take the silver medal behind Oliver Hopkins of Leinster. The third local athlete in action was Ben Warnock and the St. Kevin College, Lisnaskea, athlete finished 6th in a very competitive 800m, just 0.02 off fourth in a time of 2:03.28.

National Senior Championship

Across the two days of competition at the National Senior Championships at the Morton Stadium, Santry, heavy showers and high winds made life difficult for everyone.

Conal Mahon competed in what was the worst of Sunday’s conditions with heavy rain and a strong wind of varying gusts meaning athletes had to change and gauge their approaches all the time in the men’s triple jump.

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After three rounds of jumps, Mahon held a narrow lead with a best of 14.38m in the third round, two centimeters clear of Jai Benson from Lagan Valley whose best jump to date was his effort in round 1 which was measured at 14.36m.

Into round 4 and Benson stole the lead going out to 14.68m and he held the lead until the final jump of the competition when Mahon floated out also to a distance of 14.68m.

As a result gold and silver were determined on countback, and by virtue of Mahon’s second best jump being 2cm better meant he retained his national title.

“I believed during the week I had a good performance in me, and it would take me to be at my best to medal as the standard of athletes down to compete was of a much higher standard than when I had won in 2021” said Mahon. “Conditions were demanding out there for us all, so I’m really delighted to have put together a consistent series of jumps in very difficult conditions to retain the title.”

Elsewhere, Knocks’ Denise Toner came up short in trying to reach her fifth consecutive National Senior final.

The Clones athlete finished 5th in her heat of the women’s 800m with only four automatically forwarded to the final, from the two semi-finals.

NI Masters Championships

There was a big turnout of athletes from right across the island at the Mary Peters track for these championships held in windy conditions on Saturday.

Tina Gallagher of OMG was in splendid form winning a total of four golds in the 80m hurdles, 100m, javelin and triple jump and three silvers in the 200m, high jump and shot putt.

This sets her up well for the nationals in August and she can look forward to bringing more silverware back to Belcoo.

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