Terrific podium finish for GCH Men’s National League Team. Report by Cliff Jennings.

  • Posted on: 23 August 2018
  • By: Mags

2018 NATIONAL LEAGUE FINAL, TULLAMORE, report by Cliff Jennings, Team Manager.

To pinch a bit of soccer manager's parlance 'the boys done good!' Soccer managers are not hot on grammar.

I had high hopes we could match our best ever position of 3rd and push for 2nd but after a few drop outs I must admit I thought we were just going to go through the motions. To reinforce my pessimism we were dead last after about 6 events but this included both hurdles events where we didn't enter competitors. Eoghan Jennings was dead beat after spending the previous day playing football in Cork and was not up for the 400m hurdles. The standard was good so nothing was lost. Both Eoghan and Henrique Nkolovata concentrated on pole vault and long jump respectively rather than run between that and the short hurdles. When one competitor fell over and 2 others were pretty slow and just running for points, we realised we could have gained a few. No time to dwell on such matters.

Then things started to look up. Sean Breathnach got his usual win in the shot even though he was operating at about 50%, then Rob Meagher got an unexpected win, big pb and 1st sub 50secs in the 400m. Steady results were coming our way from then on in. I knew we would finish strongly with the relays, 200m and weight for distance but it's the 3rd's and 4th's that can make your score. Brendan Staunton is a great backup to Sean in the throws. Improvements in his discus have moved him away from the herd and his hammer throw is solid. Henrique got 3rd in the triple jump even though his hamstring was bothering him. James Frizzell stepped up to the plate and covered the 5k for the team having run a tough 1500m an hour or so beforehand. Having struggled to fill the position both James and Talon Thompson (who had a solid run in the chase) put themselves forward to double up with their favoured events. Along with Neill Keane - who turned down a ticket for the hurling final to fulfil his commitment to run the 800m, we have a great middle distance team. My kind of guys -Team players one and all.

Talking of team players, Seamus Leddy put in his usual strong walking performance even though the judges were trying hard to put him off by waving yellow flags at him, and engaging him in conversation when he was supposed to be walking! I don't understand this walking lark. Seamus has his own style but is most definitely walking, but because he doesn't always have a straight lead leg they target him. The feet off the ground stipulation for running has to be visible to the naked eye so even a slow mo of someone being totally airborne means nothing. He stuck to his task and finished without further incident to get valuable points

The 4 X 100 went well and we got third. Jonah Erugo jumped a big pb of 1.70m in the high jump but found himself in a quality competition so didn't get much reward for his efforts. Cillin won the 200m as expected even though he had just come back from holiday. For a young guy he always delivers even with the pressure of expectation on him. With a few events to go we were in 3rd - a point in front of 4th. Sean got his win in the weight for distance and we were looking good.

Due to the nature of the league though it's never that clear as each team drops its worst 4 events so things can change. Sometimes you think you are doing well but haven't taken into account the points you will lose when you drop those 4 events. We had scored 0 in both hurdles and had only scored 1 in a couple of events so barring disasters we were not going to drop too many. Going into the last event, the 4 X 400 relay, we were safe in 3rd but could get second if we won.

Luke O’Shaughnessy came back into the team after a long layoff to take the first leg. A solid run of just under 53 seconds kept us in contention. Jonah went off steadily and didn't panic when people went past him on the back straight and then blew us into contention near the front down the home straight (approx 51.7secs). Rob, who was running his 4th event (having filled our 100m slot not long before), ran a strong leg to get us into 2nd and give Cillin a chance to be heroic (50.1 secs). Cillin set off 20m down on first and made no impression over the first 200m. Up in the stands we thought he either knows what he is doing or the holiday has caught up with him! He started his charge round the last bend but it looked like it wouldn't be enough. The gap was closing slowly at first but then the leader started to tread water and the unthinkable became possible. With 20 to go Cillin got level but the lactic was taking its toll. For me it was like watching the 1991 world champs where Akubusi went past the USA and the USA runner rallied making the gap closer than was comfortable. Cillin completed the job (as he always does) running 48.7 secs to win by a couple of metres, bringing us home in 3 mins 23 secs, securing 2nd place and completing the best ever performance by the team in the National League thus building on the hard work done by Brendan Glynn in getting the team started and developing the team spirit over previous years.

Cillin had run himself into the ground and was whiter than usual by the time the presentations were made and therefore missed the competitive hair primping contest between Jonah and Henrique that was eventually declared a draw - otherwise we would all still be there. After the middle distance boys had done a few press-ups to pump their arms up the presentations could proceed and congratulations offered to the fantastic Clonliffe team who won by a country mile. They are good but if we can fill a few gaps we can challenge them next year. We need to do it before Big Sean hangs up his throwing shoes. Gary Thornton has now realised that he is better at running than sitting around with his carpet slippers on which will be a boost for the distance running group, and will drag a few closer to and under 15 mins. We need a short hurdler (short race not vertically challenged!) a 6:50 long jumper and a second good javelin thrower. We have the winter to do it.

100m  -  Robert Meagher,   5th 11.39
200m   - Cillín Greene,       1st 22.03
400m   - Robert Meagher,  1st 49.55 (pb)
800m   - Néill Keane,          5th 2:01.81
1500m - James Frizzell,      4th 4:14.10
5000m - James Frizzell,      6th 16:29.92 (pb)
3000m - Walk    - Seamus Leddy, 5th 16:45.24 (pb)
3000 s/c - Talon Thompson, 4th 10:16.42 
110m/h - 
400m/h - 
HJ  - Jonah Erugo,  8th 1.70m (pb)
LJ  - Henrique Nkolovata,  8th 5.25m
TJ  - Henrique Nkolovata,  3rd 12.06m
PV - Eoghan Jennings,    6th 2.80m (eq pb)
Shot - Sean Breathnach,       1st 15.47m
Weight - Sean Breathnach,   1st 8.20m
Discus - Brendan Staunton, 3rd 37.83m
Hammer - Brendan Staunton, 4th 32.86m
Javelin - Eoghan Jennings, 7th 30.04m
4 X 100m - Darren Costello/Cillín Greene/Jonah Erugo/Robert Meagher, 3rd 43.67
4 X 400m - Luke O'Shaughnessy/Jonah/Robert/Cillin 1st 3:23.07

The following athletes also deserve a mention and get medals for helping us get through the rounds. Thanks for your efforts guys.

Eanna Folan, Diego Alonso Brule, Brendan McDonnell, John Moroney. Well done one and all!

Cliff Jennings - team manager.