An outstanding run by Daire Farrell of Carrick on Shannon Community School in which he set a new Intermediate 800m record of 1.55.2 was the highlight of the 76th Aviva Connacht Schools Athletics Championships at Athlone IT on Thursday last.
The previous record of 1.57.8 was held by Ballinamore’s Fergal Ellis, who four years ago broke the 1974 record of former Olympian Ray Flynn of Longford. Conditions were blustery at times but the frequent showers appeared to miss the competition venue enabling the large programme to be completed without difficulty.
In the 800m Farrell renewed ongoing rivalry with Westport’s David Harper, who tried to use his strength to break away. Harper’s determination to open a substantial gap over the first 600m was thwarted by Farrell who kept pace with the Mayo runner.
Over the last 200 metres, Farrell’s superior speed was much in evidence as he powered to a convincing win and a new record. In addition to his record breaking 800m run, Daire also won the Intermediate 400m where Cathal McElgunn finished third.
Ballinamore’s Laura O’Dowd had a convincing win in the Intermediate Girls 800m in 2.22.1 well ahead of Michelle Maher of Salerno (2.26.5) with Sinead Gaffney of Presentation Athenry third in 2.29.2.
Earlier her sister Eilish had won the Junior 1200m Walk in 6.38.8 ahead of Orla Delahunty of Ursuline Sligo and Rachel Corcoran of Mercy Roscommon. She went on later to take third in the Minor 1500m in 5.31.4 behind Christine Greene of Bower, Athlone, and Orla McCann of Swinford.
Ryan O’Rourke of Ballinamore took second in the Minor Boys 1500m in 4.48 behind Peter Creavin of St Mary’s Galway, despite having played a football match for his school in Frenchpark earlier in the day. This clash was a result of the Connacht Schools Athletics Association officers changing the date of the Championships from Wednesday to Thursday. Ballinamore’s fourth representative Grainne Griffin finished sixth in the Junior 1500m.
To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.