- J McAlister
All-Ireland Schools Track & Field 2017
Both Cormac O’Rourke (Inter boys 800m) and Jai Benson (Inter boys long jump) entered the All-Ireland Championships as provincial champions with realistic medal chances and the opportunity to go for gold. Jai Benson had produced a personal best (pb) of 6.24m to win the Ulster Championships. In the fourth round he leaped into the lead with a huge new best of 6.57m and was looking in prime position for top spot. His competitors were not going to go down without a fight and he was surpassed for the lead in the 5th round as his main competitor managed 6.64 m. In the 6th and final round of the competition Jai had one last opportunity to regain the lead with the last jump of the competition. As he headed out towards the runway to prepare for his vital jump the gun went off for the start of the 800m race and Cormac was under way. He powered around the first bend into the lead before easing off slightly on the back straight to let a couple of athletes past to take up the running around. A composed Cormac held this position, running on the shoulders of the leaders for the next 550m before unleashing his now customary kick with 150m to go. As Cormac was pulling away from his rivals Jai was starting his run up for his final jump. As Cormac stretched out his arms wide in celebration Jai was hitch kicking his way to another excellent jump. As Cormac was cheering in celebration jai was waiting in anticipation for his jump to be measured. A few agonising seconds that felt like minutes later Jai received the good news. 6.70m for another pb, the gold medal and his turn to celebrate. Such is the singular focus of the Track and Field athlete that it was only at this stage that either of these boys was aware of the others accomplishment. Cormac ran a big pb of 1 minute 56.4s to win his race by over a second.
The other College athletes in action competed admirably with a few 6th place finishes the best of the rest. Tim Scott was first up in the Inter boys 1500m steeplechase and contested well to finish in 6th place, this despite a slight achilles injury that had hindered his training the previous two weeks. Conall McClean also managed 6th in the Inter boys 3,000m race. This race started out slow, which played into the hands of the faster athletes in the race, but Conall must be delighted with his first showing at this level and the huge progress he has made the last couple of years. Conall Browne also managed 6th in a tactical Inter boys 1500m race which again started slowly and finished fast. Adam Ferris finished 9th in the U16 mile race.
Conall Browne, Conall McClean, Tim Scott and Cormac O’Rourke have all been named in the Ulster schools team for the Schools Interprovincial which takes place on Saturday 24th June in Dublin. Cormac O’Rourke has been given the illustrious honour of being named Captain of the Ulster Schools boys team.