Last weekend Leevale’s junior men represented Ireland at the Junior European Champion Clubs Cup in Leiria, Portugal. There were some outstanding performances which saw Leevale take second place to Estonia, ahead of the host nation Portugal. It was unfortunate that just the week prior to the competition the clubs from Russia and Greece withdrew from the competition, the latter citing the current economic conditions as the reason for their non-participation. However their absence did not take from the intensity of the competition.
The event was held in the beautiful Leiria and was First in action was Edmund O’Halloran in the 400mH where he finished second and was closing rapidly on the winner from Estonia. In his favourite event, the 110m hurdles, Edmund had a 2 metre lead going into the penultimate hurdle, but unfortunately he hit it hard and his momentum was lost, resulting in the 3rd place finish.
In the middle distance events our young competitors really excelled. The 1500m, where Sean Hennessy represented the team, was the race of the day. Matjas Veermaa of Estonia had built up a 30 metre lead going into the last lap. Sean really dug in and gradually hauled him in, overtaking him about 10 metres from the finish with the exhausted Estonian literally walking over the line.
Philip Crowley was a very impressive winner of the 3000 metre steeplechase. In the early laps he bided his time, allowing the others to take the early lead. He then upped the pace and accelerated away from the field in the last 600 metres. In the 3000m Chris Mintern went with the experienced Jose Neves of Portugal for the early laps. The early pace took its toll, however he recovered well to finish second. Dan Ahern finished 3rd in the 800m.
In the sprints David Killeen was up against top opposition, finishing a very close 3rd in both the 100 and 200 metres. Paul Scanlan had to work hard in the finishing straight but he held on for a great win in the 400 metres.
In the field events Ryan Casey produced a new PB of 12.51 to take 3rd place in the triple jump. We had Robert Moffett of Balymena & Antrim as guest competitor in the hammer and shot putt. In his favourite event, the hammer, he threw a massive new PB of 52.66m for a great win. He then went on to finish 3rd in the shot. Jonathan Foley finished second in his specialist event, the pole vault, and 3rd in the javelin. In a very high standard high jump Shane O’Dwyer finished in third position with a jump of 1.90. Shane then went on to finish runner-up in the long jump.
The relays, which were the final events on the track, proved to be very exciting. The 4×100 team of Dennis O’Sullivan, Edmund O’Halloran. Paul Scanlan, and David Killeen had great win from the Portugese team. Some of the credit for this victory must go to coach John Sheehan as the baton changing was impeccable. In the final event of the day, the 4×400 relay, we knew that we needed to finish ahead of Portugal. Our team of Dan Ahern, David Killeen, Robert O’Halloran and Paul Scanlan did what was necessary. They finished second to the competition winners KJK Vike of Estonia and ahead of Portugal.
This was a great experience for all our athletes. Our middle distance competitors really excelled and credit here must go to Donie Walsh and Tony Shine.
In the women’s competition Ireland was represented by Ballymena & Antrim. Two Leevale athletes, namely the Neville twins Christine and Jessica, competed for them as guests. Christine got the competition off to a great start for them with a comprehensive victory in the 400m hurdles. Later in the day Jessica was an equally convincing victor in the 400m. In the 4×400 relay Jessica and Christine ran with their Ballymena team mates to secure victory, and help them to finish a close second behind Amager Atletik Club of Denmark.
We would like to extend our thanks to our guest athletes and their clubs. There was great friendship between all the athletes from the two Irish teams. Robert Moffett proved to be a real favourite among all our club members wearing his Leevale colours with pride!!
Finally this event would not have taken place without the input from our Treasurer Ina Killeen, ably assisted by Caroline Philpott. Ina put an enormous effort into organising the travel and every other minute detail that goes into getting to such an event. She even had every body checked in online and issued with boarding passes for the outward flight to Lisbon.
Thanks again to all those athletes and officials involved in organising this historic event for the club. It is a fitting finale that we were rewarded with silverware for the effort.
European Athletic Association Final Team Standings European Champion Clubs Cup- Leiria (POR), 17 September 2011
1 – 47 ESTONIA KJK Vike
2 – 34 IRELAND Leevale
3 – 33 PORTUGAL Juventude Vidigalense