The 3rd Annual Tipperary Athletics Star Awards Night was held with resounding success in the Horse & Jockey Hotel, on Saturday 13th January. As the event continues to grow each year, the hotel was packed to capacity with Tipperary’s finest athletes who were honoured on the night along with 2017 County Club winners of various Indoor, Track & Field, Cross Country & Road Championships. Among the dignitaries present on the night were Georgina Drumm, President of Athletics Ireland, local FF Councillor Mr. Seamus Hanafin & Chairperson of Tipperary County Council, Ms. Phyll Bugler.
The Tom Healy Memorial Cups for U/14 Girls & Boys Excellence in Track & Field were awarded to Grainne O’Connor, Clonmel A.C. & James Sage, Nenagh Olympic A.C. These young athletes showed great dedication to their sport in 2017 with both winning National silver medals. O’Connor, coached by Frank Lynch (whose son Evan also picked up an award on the night), is new to the athletics scene but has shown great promise in her chosen event, racewalking, winning gold in the Munster T&F Championships and silver in the National T&F Championships. Sage is a hurdler and long jumper with his biggest wins in 2017 coming at the Scottish Championships (1st Long Jump) and silver in the National Boys U/14 Long Jump & the hurdles at National Community Games.
This year, in memory of Mary Doyle, Clonmel A.C., our beloved County Officer, two new awards, the Mary Doyle Memorial Trophies for Best U/14 Female and Male Cross-Country Athletes were introduced. Mary was our Juvenile Cross-Country Secretary for many years and a great friend and mentor who brought sunshine into all the lives that she touched. Kate Ferncombe, Dundrum A.C. and Cian Hodgins, Nenagh Olympic A.C. were the winners with the trophies presented on the night by Mary’s children, Jonathan and Lorraine. Ferncombe highest achievement was an excellent 9th place at the National U/13 XC Championships and gold with the Munster team while Hodgins was a terrific 3rd at the National U/13 XC Championships and a member of the Nenagh XC U/12 team that won gold at the National Relay XC Championships. Bjorn Downes, Mooreabbey Milers A.C. was the winner of Best U/15 to U/19 Male Cross-Country athlete having won the County U/19 XC Championships and achieved a top 10 finish at Munster level.
Double award winners on the night were the very worthy Aimee Hayde, Newport A.C. (Best U/15 to U/19 T&F Female and Best U/15 to U/19 Cross Country Female), Daniel Ryan, Moycarkey Coolcroo A.C. (Best U/15 to U/19 T&F Male & Best Junior Male) & Sharlene Mawdsley, Newport A.C. (Best Junior Female and Best Senior Female). All have shown incredible talent in 2017 winning multiple National titles in their events with both Hayde and Mawdsley having represented Ireland on more than one occasion throughout the year. Both Ryan and Mawdsley are recipients of Elite Athletics Scholarships, Ryan in Brunel University, London where he is studying Physiotherapy and Mawdsley in UL. Neither were in attendance on the night as Ryan is based in London now under the tutelage of coach Ian Grant and Mawdsley was out on warm weather training with both looking to attain qualifying marks for major World and European Championships this year.
Best Senior Male Athlete Award went to Kevin Maunsell, Clonmel A.C. who became the first Clonmel A.C. athlete to win a National track medal when he won bronze in the 10km at the National T&F Championships in July. He also picked up an International Achievement Award for his 24th place finish at the European Cross Country Championships. New categories for U/23’s and Master athletes was introduced this year with Aoife Delargy, Nenagh Olympic A.C. and Evan Lynch, Clonmel A.C. winning the Female and Male U/23 category. Delargy won silver in the National U/23 800m both Indoors & Outdoors and bronze at the Inter-Varsity Championships. Lynch a very successful juvenile walker has now joined the senior ranks winning the National Indoor U/23 and Inter-Varsity Championships in 2017. Our outstanding Master athletes for 2017 were Genevieve Rowland, Templemore A.C. and Patrick Naughton, Nenagh Olympic A.C. Both showed their diversity by winning multiple medals in various track & field events in 2017 at National level with Rowland setting a new Munster record in the 0/35 Women’s Javelin in June & Naughton one of our oldest athletes competing in the 0/85 age category. Naughton is a man who has spent most of his life running, throwing and jumping; whose amazing athletics career did not reach its zenith until he was in his seventies, a decade when he bagged all his five European Masters Track and Field Championship medals. Like a good wine, Naughton has got better with age. He considers his 5th Euro medal win, a bronze at the Outdoors Championships in Hungary in 2011 – his third Euro bronze medal for the event – as his sweetest, considering he was competing against “young fellas” in the 0/75 category.
Our Lady’s Templemore and Thurles CBS also featured in the Schools Awards with Our Lady’s Templemore winning the Best Overall Minor Girls category at the Munster Schools T&F Championships and Thurles CBS performing a clean sweep at Schools competitions by winning the East Munster, Munster and Irish Schools T&F Awards in the Intermediate Boys category, an amazing feat in itself.
The Overall International Award went to Sean Tobin, Clonmel A.C. for his 15th place finish at the European Cross-Country Championships in Bratislava in December. Tobin has been involved in athletics since he was 10 years of age and won his first County Cross Country title at under 12. Since then he has enjoyed the sport and has gone from strength to strength. He has won many All Ireland titles on the Track and in Cross Country at every level. Last June he won his first National Senior title when winning the 1500m in 3 mins 57.18 secs. Indeed, he is the first Clonmel AC athlete to win a National Track title. He has competed for Ireland at all levels for Ireland, Schools, Youths, Junior and this year in Bratislava he won his first Senior Irish singlet when he was part of the Irish team that finished 5th. He is currently doing his final year at Ole Miss University where he has also enjoyed a high degree of success. He is the youngest Irishman to break 4 minutes for the mile and he achieved that while running for Ole Miss in 2014 when running 3 mins 59.91 secs at 19 years of age.
International Achievement Awards were also received by the following athletes: -
Sharlene Mawdsley, Newport A.C. - European U/20 T&F Championships, 200m (24.12 in her heat to finish 2nd and qualify for the Semi-Final where she finished 4th in a time of 23.98) and the Irish Women’s 4 x 100m Relay team. The quartet finished 4th in the Final in a time of 44.47 seconds having qualified as the 2nd fastest team in their heats setting a new National U/20 record of 44.4). Sharlene was also part of the Irish Women’s 4 x 400m Relay team (5th in heat 3.47.48).
Sean Carolan, Nenagh Olympic A.C. – Carolan has had a great year, which has seen him win 20 National medals (including 5 Scottish National medals, 3 Tailteann Games, 2 Irish School's & a National Senior League medal as a member of the successful Tipperary Premier League team). He also added a Silver Long Jump medal in the Celtic Games international at the end of the summer. The highlight of his year was his selection to the Irish team for the European Youth Olympics in Gyor, Hungary where he qualified for the final of the Long Jump with a jump of 6.79m. This has been his greatest athletic experience to date & he learned so much from this competition. It has given him a hunger to want to compete for his country at a high level again & to learn from each experience along his journey to his goal.
Joseph McEvoy, Nenagh Olympic A.C. – McEvoy won a total of 2 gold and 1 bronze at National Indoor Championships this year in Boys U/17 60mH & High Jump and silver in the National T&F Boys U/17 110mH. He also won the Intermediate Boys High Jump at the Irish Schools T&F Championships jumping 2.00m to attain an EYOF standard. He was subsequently selected for the Irish EYOF team in the High Jump and 4 x 100m but was not able to participate due to an injury sustained at Day 1 of the National T&F Championships in July. He set a new Munster Indoor Record of 1.98m in Boys U/17 High Jump.
Kevin Maunsell A.C. – His greatest achievement to date has to be his performance at the recent European Senior Cross-Country Championships in Bratislava where he ran the proverbial blinder in such a top-class field when finishing 24th. He even managed to lead the Irish team at one stage during the race and he cajoled the other two scoring members to keep it going and they all combined to help the Irish team finish 5th, that position was last achieved by an Irish Men’s team in 2011.
Miriam Daly, Carrick-On-Suir A.C. – Daly competed on no less than 4 International Irish Teams in 2017. The Irish School’s team in Santry, where she finish 2nd in the 300m hurdles in a time of 44.62sec, was also a member of the 4x300m relay that finished 3rd in 2.4377secs.The European Youth Olympics in Gyor, Hungry achieving 6th place in the final of 400m hurdles in 61.94secs, to complete a great trip she ran the 3rd leg of the 4x100m Irish relay that won a bronze medal in a time of 46.38secs.The Celtics International was also held in Santry, here Miriam won the 400m in 56.36secs, and ran the final leg for the 4x400m winning relay team in a time of 3.51.36. She was also a member of the 4x400m Irish relay team that competed in The U20 European Championship in Italy.
Paul White, Nenagh Olympic A.C. – Paul White was a late developer in athletics terms. He struggled to hold down a place on, admittedly, very good Nenagh relay teams. But when he did Paul became the backbone of our best relay teams and this year he led our Senior 4x100 team to All Ireland Gold and 4x400 squad to the Silver. He won his first individual All Ireland title when winning a national junior 400m title in 2013 and since then has won numerous U23 titles. 2016 was another breakthrough year for Paul which saw him represent Ireland at University level and also at the European U23 championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Paul is really only getting into his stride as he enters the Senior ranks and is looking forward to establishing himself amongst the best quarter milers in Ireland and beyond. Sure, what is great talent worth without great ambition.
Achievements in 2017 include:
Munster Indoor u23 400m Championship Record (50.50)
IUAA Outdoor Inter-Varsities 400m Bronze
Northern Ireland Championships 400m Bronze
1x European u23 400m B Standard (47.80)
Selected for European u23 4x400m Relay