Donore Harriers boys strike gold again

DONORE Harriers athletes Louis O’Loughlin and Jack Raftery captured gold medals and Aoife Lynch a bronze at last weekend’s National Junior and Under 23 Championships in Tullamore.

The former clocked 1.54.00 on his way to victory in a dramatic Junior Men’s 800m in which he edged out Mark Milner (1.54.01) of Tullamore Harriers and Daragh McIlhenny (1.54.02) of Bantry AC.

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Junior Women’s 1500m winner Ava O'Connor and Junior Men’s 800m champion Louis O'Loughlin.

The three pre-race favourites had broken clear of the chasing pack at 300m and reached the bell in a moderate 60 seconds.

It was not until the 600 metres mark that Milner made his move gaining three metres on Clondalkin man O’Loughlin and McIlhenny as they rounded the top bend.

The latter, who recently set new Irish junior records for the 5000m and the 3000m, began chasing down Milner in what appeared to be shaping up for a duel between the two in the sprint to the line.

Yet O’Loughlin, who was two strides back and looked out of contention, turned on the burners on the inside line and sprinted to a remarkable win, with just two-hundredths of a second separating the three athletes.

In the Junior Men’s 400m final, Raftery found himself languishing back in seventh place at the 200m mark, but the Donore athlete drove forward around the top bend and hit the front with just five metres remaining.

A final forward lunge to the line secured the gold medal and a new personal best time of 48.40 ahead of David Ryan of Moycarkey Coolcroo AC and Adam Hughes, representing City of Lisburn AC.

Donore Harriers other medallist was Aoife Lynch whose time of 24.37 was good enough to see her finish third in the Under 23 Women’s 200m behind Sophie Becker of St Joseph’s AC and winner Sharlene Mawdsley of Newport AC while Donore’s Sarah Lahiff (27.83) finished up fifth.

Lynch has been selected to help represent the Ireland in the 4x100m relay at the European Under 23 Championships at Gavle in Sweden from July 11-14.

Meanwhile Raftery (4x400m relay) and O’Loughlin (800m) have been included on the Irish squad heading to the European Under 20 Championships at Borsa in Sweden July 18-21.

Under 23 athlete Eva McPartlan finished fourth in the 100m Hurdles Final in a time of 16.52 as she continues to make steady progress after a long lay-off due to injury.

Ailbhe Healy (2.85m) is another athlete trying to regain form after injury and, with only limited preparation, finished fourth in the final of the Under 23 Women’s Pole Vault, losing out on the bronze medal only on count-back.

Paul McDermott finished fifth in the final of both the Under 23 Men’s 100m and 200m.

MEANWHILE on Day One of the National Juvenile Track & Field Championships also at Tullamore on Sunday O’Loughlin won the club’s only medal when he contested the Under 19 Boys 800m Final.

The Clondalkin man took the race from gun to tape, winning in a new championship best time of 1.52.58 ahead of Ferrybank’s Jake Bagge in second and Conor Matthews of Dunleer in third.

First season athlete Rory O’Farrell came home fourth in the final of the Under 13 Boys 60m Hurdles, with Ruby Kelly fifth in the final of the Under 17 Girls 2000m Steeplechase.

There was a fifth place finish also for Gavin Curtin in the Under 18 Boys 3000m Steeplechase with Abdel Laadjel sixth in the final of the Under 17 Boys 800m.

Elsewhere master athlete Orlaith Read (25.88m) won a gold medal in the 4kg Hammer at the Northern Ireland and Ulster Masters Championships in Belfast.

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