O’Sullivan Leads Off Irish Relay in Historic Victory

The Nestle schools international track and field match was held in reasonable weather conditions at Tullamore today.  And what a meet it turned out to be, with some of the most promising teenagers in these islands competing.  As ever the English competitors were awesome, putting in some magnificent performances, but it was an Irish performance in the sprint relays that stole the day.  The boys team were simply on fire!  The team was led off by John O’Sullivan (2nd from left in photo) from Colaiste an Spiorad Naomh and Leevale, passing on to Paul Gill (1st in photo), Brian Power (4th in photo), and anchored by John Laffey (3rd in photo).  Their performance had the crowd on their feet cheering for them as they led from the start to record a famous victory over England.  It is ten years since Ireland won the sprint relay at the schools international. Afterwards, schools director of coaching John Shields revealed that the relay teams had undergone some two hours of relay practice on Thursday, a workout that certainly paid dividends.  The girls team finished a very close third behind England, with Orla Coughlan from Bandon again in flying form.  In the hammer Rachel Akers from Clare added over a metre to the schools record when she won that event. Another record fell in the pole vault, won by Erin Kinnear, and she had the pleasure of recording a new Irish senior pole vault record in the process.  As expected Eoin Leen from Tralee won the shot with almost two metres to spare over the English youth. But spare a thought for Colin Costelloe in the steeplechase.  Running far better than he has ever done before now, he took the lead at the halfway point of the 1,500m race, and built up a big lead for himself.  He still had a lead at the final water where the English runner Luke Gunn made a mistake. However, Costelloe made a slight mistake at the last barrier allowing the English lad to close, and the final 50m had the crowd on their toes again as they cheered the pair.  Alas, Costelloe was passed almost on the finish line, but he lost nothing in defeat after such a fine effort.  And the winning time of 4:20.43 is one of the faster times recorded for the distance. ( Full Results).  ( More Photos at Cork Athletics Site).