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Reports - March 2009

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25 March 2009

The Athletic Association of Ireland honours the leading juvenile athletes in the country annually. Last Saturday night Javelin thrower Olivia McDonald of St Peter's AC in Dromiskin was presented with the Matt McGrath Perpetual Cup. This cup is awarded to the best athlete in the four throwing events (Shot, Discus, Hammer and Javelin). Olivia thus became the first ever athlete from County Louth to receive one of these national awards since the formation of the AAI nine years ago.

Matt McGrath was a native of Nenagh, County Tipperary, who emigrated to the United States. Representing his adopted country, he won three Olympic medals in the Hammer throw. He took silver on his debut at the 1908 Games in London, gold four years later in Stockholm, and silver again in 1924 in Paris (when he was 45 years old).

Olivia was presented with the cup named after the famous thrower at a dinner in the Arklow Bay Hotel. She was accompanied to the ceremony by several members of her extended family, including her mother, Angela McDonald, who is also very active as coach and secretary at St Peter’s AC. Kathleen McConnell, who doubles up as coach and treasurer at the club, and Patricia McCormack, one of Olivia’s first coaches at the club when she took up athletics several years ago, were also present.

Olivia made a psychologically significant breakthrough last July when she breached the 40 metres barrier for the first time, throwing 40.70m to win the Irish Under 19 title in Tullamore. She had also won the Irish Schools’ and Irish Junior (Under 20) titles earlier in the summer. However her prowess was not reserved for underage competitions, as she was also silver medallist in the Irish Senior Championships, having previously taken bronze in the country’s premier domestic competition in 2006 and 2007. 2008 was also the occasion of Olivia’s senior international debut in an Irish vest, as she finished in 4th place at the CSIT World Games in Rimini on Italy’s Adriatic Coast.

On Saturday night Olivia was also presented with an award as the best juvenile athlete in County Louth in 2008, making it the fifth year in succession that this award has gone to a member of the Dromiskin club.

Meanwhile on St Patrick’s Day one of the club’s youngest and one of its oldest athletes ran in the North East Runners 5km handicap road race in Dundalk. Daniel Mullen, who normally competes at Under 10 level, crossed the line in 11th place with an overall time of 29 minutes 22 seconds and an actual time of 27 minutes 52 seconds (due to his 1 minute 30 seconds handicap). This time was a great personal best for the youngster, who continues to show tremendous promise for the future.

Tom McGrane, who normally competes in the Over 45 age group, also had a good run on a cool, breezy morning, as he came home 17th with an overall time of 29 minutes 41 seconds and an actual time of 24 minutes 11 seconds. Over 30 runners took part in the race, which was well up on recent years.

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18 March 2009

All the athletes of Dromiskin’s St Peter’s AC are now looking forward to the outdoor track and field season, which will get underway next month. But for an elite group of seven of them, there is still the not insignificant matter of the forthcoming Irish Juvenile Indoor Championships to attend to, before their focus turns completely to the outdoor competitive programme.

On the last weekend of March Hilary Kerr, Emily Rogers and Mark Rogers will travel once more to Nenagh, venue of so many indoor competitions for St Peter’s AC athletes since the 1980s. There Hilary will compete in the Under 19 60m, while Emily will be in action in the Under 16 High Jump and her brother Mark will tackle the Under 14 High Jump and Shot Putt.

The following weekend the same three athletes, along with Aisling McKeen, Caoimhe McMahon, Frances Rogers and Grace Rogers, will set out in the opposite direction to the new indoor arena in Magherafelt. There they will encounter an unusual track for indoor athletics, as it is an unbanked 300m track, in contrast to the standard banked 200m track found in Nenagh.

At the County Derry venue Hilary and Frances will both be going for glory at Under 19 level – the former in the 200m and Long Jump, and the latter in the Shot Putt. Grace, younger sister of Frances, will be a strong contender in the Under 17 High Jump and Long Jump, while their cousin Mark will toe the line for the Under 14 800m. The indoor season will be rounded off for St Peter’s AC when Aisling, Caoimhe, Emily and Grace join forces to compete in the Under 17 4x200m relay.

All the athletes competing in the national finals in Nenagh and Magherafelt have pre-qualified through their medal-winning performances in the various provincial championships.

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11 March 2009

The athletes of St Peter’s AC in Dromiskin will not be so active on the competitive front over the next few weeks, but will undoubtedly take advantage of the lull in competition to work hard in training. The regular club training sessions are held between 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday evening at the facilities of St Joseph’s GFC on the outskirts of the village. The new Community Centre beside the football pitch has proved to be a great facility for indoor training during recent months.

Any prospective new members will be made very welcome at these sessions. Younger athletes (8 to 12 years old) should come initially on Thursday nights. Although St Peter’s AC remains firmly rooted in the local community of Dromiskin and Darver, its members come from across a wide area of County Louth. More information about the club can be found on

Some of the club’s athletes are expected to compete in the Handicap 5km Road Race in Dundalk on St Patrick’s Day. In recent years these races, which are organised by North East Runners, have proved popular with those members of St Peter’s AC living in Dundalk.

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4 March 2009

Last weekend St Peter’s AC was very well represented at the 2nd weekend of the Leinster Juvenile (Under 12 to 19) Indoor Championships in Nenagh. Eighteen athletes from the Dromiskin-based club made the long journey to the County Tipperary arena. They were rewarded with five gold, one silver and two bronze medals, along with a host of excellent performances.

Star of the show was Mark Rogers who won triple gold in the Under 14 Boys’ events. He set a championship best performance in the High Jump, won the Shot Putt (11.19m) by a margin of over 2 metres, and also took the 800m title on the track. Hilary Kerr was also in top form in the Under 19 Girls’ category, as she added the Long Jump (5.09m) and 60m titles to the 200m crown she had won on the 1st weekend of these championships.

Grace Rogers jumped a personal best to take Under 17 Long Jump silver, while Emily Rogers was the bronze medallist in the Under 16 Long Jump (4.38m). The Rogers cousins then teamed up with Caoimhe McMahon and Aisling McKeen to finish 3rd in the Under 17 Girls’ 4x200m relay.

Just missing out on a medal was Niamh Fussey, who crossed the line in 4th place in the Under 15 Girls’ 60m Hurdles in a personal best time (10.90). Three athletes recorded 6th place finishes: Elizabeth Bell in the Under 13 60m Hurdles (13.12), Lauren Finnegan in the Under 13 Shot Putt (7.04m), and Ian McDonald in the Under 18 Long Jump (4.88m). Lauren and Elizabeth also competed in the heats of the 600m with Lauren finishing 7th and Elizabeth 9th (2:10.5), while Ian also qualified for the 60m final but was forced to withdraw due to injury.

Two of the youngest St Peter’s athletes in Nenagh also performed very well, as they both registered 7th place finishes. Nikayla Hamill was 7th in the Under 12 Girls’ 600m (2:06.85) and Orlaith McMahon finished in the same place in the Under 12 Girls’ Long Jump (3.61m). Also in action at Under 12 level were Cian Duffy (22nd in Long Jump with 2.92m and 11th in heat of 600m) and Heather Rogers (17th in Long Jump with 3.18m).

At Under 13 level Liam Fussey came home 4th in his heat of the 600m (2:06.15). Megan Finnegan finished 12th in the Under 14 Girls’ Shot Putt (6.48m), while Éamonn McManus was also in action at Under 14 level. Ellen McGuinness threw 6.18m for 9th place in the Under 15 Girls’ Shot Putt.

The leading athletes from these provincial championships qualify for the Irish Juvenile Indoor Championships which will be held over two weekends at opposite ends of the country. On the last weekend in March some of the events will be staged in Nenagh, with the remaining events being contested the following weekend in Magherafelt.

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