Gritty performance across the board marked a day of mixed fortunes for Team Ireland at the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in Maribor today. In athletics, there was disappointment for Sean Cronin when he was disqualified in the Boy’s 1500m, while Enya Silkena stamped her mark in the Girl’s Heptathlon, with personal best performances on day one.
In mountain biking, Greta Lawless finished tenth on a technical course, and gymnasts Mimi Moloney and Maeve McGuinness performed strongly in the Girl’s All-Around. Tennis player Eoghan Jennings was impressive in his battle in Round 3 of the Boy’s Singles, before ultimately bowing out of the competition. All sports were in action on the fourth day of competition at the event that runs from 23 – 29 July 2023.
Paris 2024 – One Year to Go
Today marks one year to go until the Olympic Games in Paris, a year which will mark one hundred years of Team Ireland competing at the Games. Since Paris 1924, thirty-eight Olympic medals have been won by Irish athletes, including three in the arts and literature categories. For many sports, Olympic qualification for Paris 2024 is well underway, with Olympic qualification already secured for Ireland in Equestrian, Rugby, Boxing, Athletics and Swimming, with 43 athlete spots secured.
With 365 days until the Games, the torch and official celebration sights for next year’s Olympics have been revealed by the team at Paris 2024.
Over the coming weeks, all eyes will be on Irish athletes who will be chasing Paris spots in the following events:
23 – 30 July: Fukuoka 2023 World Aquatic Championships (Japan)
23 – 30 July: EuroHockey Championship II (Ireland)
3 – 13 August: UCI Cycling World Championships (Glasgow)
8 – 20 August: Allianz World Sailing Championships (The Hague)
19 – 27 August: 2023 World Athletics Championships (Budapest),
21 – 27 August: World Badminton Championships (Copenhagen)
23 – 27 August: Canoe Sprint World Championships (Duisberg, Germany)
Sean Cronin was listed as a DSQ in the final results of the Boy’s 1500m, after initially crossing the line in fourth place with a personal best time of 3:53.88. This is disappointing for the Clonliffe Harriers runner who won a bronze medal in this event last year, and who will no doubt make his mark as he steps into the senior ranks.
Enya Silkena is lying ninth with 3039 points going into the second day of action after four events in the Heptathlon. At fifteen years, the Dundalk St. Gerard AC’s athlete demonstrated her maturity at the stadium producing a personal best in both the 100m hurdles (14.86) and the 200m (25.73), as well as strong results in the high jump and the shot put.
At the end of the first day of competition, Silkena spoke about how she kept her head in her own performance throughout the day,
“I just wanted to aim for PBs, I wasn’t looking outside, I said I would try not to look at others, and just think about myself and think I’m good, I’ll get better.”
Rounding out the four events today, she finished her 200m heats with a personal best time, the youngest member of the athletics team said,
“At the start, I felt like I was really fast, I slowed down a bit, you have to manage your speed and not die out, so I just sprinted to the finish. I saw someone passing and thought I have to catch up and just ran after her.
“In the hurdles, I was definitely not expecting a PB. I just learned this new technique where you put your trail leg down in front of you and you smash it down. That really helped me get me through the race and seeing the other people, I thought I have to go faster, I had a good start, but I wasn’t expecting that at all.”
Tomorrow she will finish out the competition with the long jump, the javelin and the 800m.
Michael Kent qualified for the Boy’s Long Jump Finals later this week with a 6.57m jump in the heats this morning. This event which was originally scheduled for Tuesday was postponed until today due to stormy conditions. Taking the adaptation in his stride, the Wexford jumper finished 10th in his qualifying rounds with a jump of 6.57, which was shy of his personal best. Speaking after his competition, Kent said,
“I was quite a bit off my PB, but I’m really glad to make the finals. This morning it was alright, it was still raining, but unlike most I’m a bit fond of the rain. I liked it but some of the others didn’t like it as much, so there are lot of people who jumped a lot worse than their PBs than I did, so I’m happy enough. I’m confident going into tomorrow, top 8 is the aim.”
Donal Martin stormed into the semi-finals in the Boy’s 200m with a time of 22.14, finishing second in his heat. With the top two in each heat moving into the semi-finals, the Blackrock runner was happy to secure one of the auto-qualifying spots,
“It went pretty well, I got out well out of the blocks, usually I’m pretty slow with that, so I’m happy with that. It’s tough in lane 2 with the tight bend, but I think at 150m I was winning, and the last 20m was tough, I think the Spanish lad got me on the line at the end, but I’m happy with that run. Auto Q, I can’t complain – that’s always the goal, to get to the semi-finals. It’s a bit of pressure off my shoulders, and we will go again tomorrow.”
Katie Doherty was ranked 15th fastest athlete going into today’s Girl’s 200m and was drawn in the fastest heat. The top two in each of the three heats progressed to the final, along with the next fastest two racers, the Ratoath AC sprinter finished fifth in her heat with a time of 25.1, recording an overall finish position of ninth. Disappointed to not make the final, but pleased with her performance, Doherty said,
“I saw my heat this morning, and I thought, okay, this will be a tough one. I was aiming for top four, but I just missed out by a little bit, and I was ninth overall. It’s really annoying, but I can learn from it, but I did the best that I could, I couldn’t really go any faster, I gave it my all. I was aiming for the final, but to get so close it’s good. I’m disappointed I didn’t get to the final but I can learn and work on it. Being in the fast heat, it does make you run faster. I was wishing for a semi so I could get another run, but it made me push myself a little bit more. I went out a girl that won the 100m and tried to stick with her as much as I could, but at the end my legs just lost it.”
Dublin’s Greta Lawless was back in action less than 24 hours after her Time Trial in the Girl’s Mountain Bike Cross Country race. Lawless finished in 10th place out of 24 finishers with a time of 57:57. In typically Irish conditions, the heavy rainfall resulted in a muddy course. Lawless fought her way to the top ten after starting in the back row of the grid.
After battling through the mud for the entire race, the Dubliner described the race as “the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, it kind of felt like home nearly with the rain which was kind of good for my head at the start as I felt more relaxed. I started second from the back on the grid. It was hard to get through all the people but on the first climb I started to pass out a good few, I was really going for it. I honestly left everything out there so that’s all I could really do, I’m really happy.”
Lawless is coached by three-time Olympian Robin Seymour in Dublin with her club Team Worc. His experience and knowledge gave her peace of mind as she added, “I was messaging him last night and he was just reassuring me, during the race I was thinking about him cheering me on, I couldn’t get much better of a coach.”
After yesterday’s brilliant silver medal, there was no time to rest and enjoy his moment as Louth’s Conor Murphy was back in action in the Boy’s Mountain Bike. Murphy finished in 21st place in a time of 41:31. The race didn’t go as planned for Murphy with an early crash on the first lap hampering his result.
It was a difficult day for Murphy after the triumph of yesterday,
“The race just didn’t go as planned, I got around and still finished so I’m pretty happy, but it could have been better. I had a crash on the first lap that had me too far back to recover, a few small things with the bike as the chain kept dropping. It just wasn’t my day, but you can’t win every day.”
It was a good day in Tabor Hall for Mimi Moloney and Maeve McGuinness who were competing in the qualification rounds of the women’s all-around. Thirteen-year-old Moloney, competing as a first-year junior finished in 34th place out of over 70 gymnasts with a total of 45.200. McGuinness increased her position from 72nd at last year’s EYOF to 40th this year with a score of 44.700, and 19th overall in the Vault.
Speaking after the event McGuinness said,
“I’m quite happy with my performance this year, I upped my ranking on the all-around and on a couple of the individual apparatus. I went from 72nd in Vault last year to 19th this year, which I’m very happy about. I upped my difficulty, but also worked on keeping my execution high.”
Cork’s Moloney was impressive overall, and outperformed her own expectations,
“I was pretty happy! I was hoping for top 50 or 60 and I was pretty shocked when I got 34th overall. It’s been a fun experience. I really enjoyed the floor, it was my last piece, so I could really put everything I had left into it. It was my favourite piece I competed in today.”
Originally Lily Russell had also been named on the team, but a late injury ruled her out. Missing her teammate, McGuinness added,
“We found out five or six days ago Lily couldn’t compete, so that was pretty different for us because as a gymnastics team, you have three people and only two scores count so if someone makes a mistake you have the two other people to keep the score, but all of our scores had to count so there’s a bit more pressure to perform, but we both did well.”
Brydan Byrne was the only Team Ireland swimmer in action today in the pool, the Bangor swimmer was competing in the Boy’s 200m semifinal after qualifying from his heat earlier this morning. Byrne finished in a time of 2:06.86 which was enough to qualify him directly to the final taking place tomorrow evening.
Byrne was able to swim almost a second faster than this morning in his heat, commenting afterwards he said,
“From this morning I got quite tired on the second 100m and for the semifinal I had to try focus on taking it more comfortably on the first 100m and then going for it on the second 100m. I think I did that quite well, I tried to focus on my technique keeping it nice and smooth and then just going for it really.”
Westport’s Eoghan Jennings played an exceptional game of tennis against Italy’s Vito Dalderi in the last 16 of the Boy’s Singles. Coming from a bad start at 3-0 down in the first set, Jennings came back to win the first set 7-5. However, the Italian eventually got the better of Jennings winning the second set 7-5 and also the third set 6-1. The Mayo player was ultimately defeated by Dalderi 2-1.
Speaking afterwards, Jennings said,
“I thought I got off to a very dodgy start again but once I got into it then, I got right back into it, I came from 5-2 down, back to a really long game at 5-5 which really changed the momentum of the match, and I was able to win that set.
“I started strong in the second set and at 3-1 up in the second my concentration wandered a bit, and he got back into the game and went 4-3 up and closed out the game 7-5. In the third set I suppose, it shouldn’t have been 6-1, I thought I deserved a lot more than what the score said it was, I had chances in nearly all of the games I lost actually to finish out the game, but I just didn’t take them.”
Jennings isn’t used to playing on clay courts as much as the other Europeans competing, so even this result is a big step up for the Westport Tennis Club player.
“For someone who’s not used to playing on clay, the rallies are so much longer compared to at home, the ball is slower, heavier you need way more legs to create power and then I suppose at the start of the third set I started cramping up which I usually do when I play on clay and especially abroad with the heat. It’s tough. I didn’t really expect to make it even this far, it was great results, nice draw as well. I haven’t seen too many of the other sports yet so hopefully I’ll make it around to support!”
Results 26 July 2023
Greta Lawless – 10th overall 57:57 – Girl’s Mountain Bike Cross-country
Conor Murphy – 21st overall 41:31 – Boy’s Mountain Bike Cross-country
Sean Cronin, Boy’s 1500m Final, DSQ
Enya Silkena, Girl’s Heptathlon, ranked 9th after 4 events with 3039 (100mH – 14.86 PB, High Jump – 1.54, Shot Put – 12.46, 200m – 25.73 PB)
Donal Martin, Boy’s 200m Heats, qualified for semi-finals with 22.14
Michael Kent, Boy’s Long Jump, qualified for final with 6.57.
Katie Doherty, Girl’s 200m Heats, 9th with 25.10
Women’s All Around Qualification,
Vault: 11.950 Bars: 10.200 Beam: 11.500 Floor: 11.550 AA: 45.200
Qualifications Vault: 12.300 Bars: 10.250 Beam: 11.200 Floor: 10.900 AA: 44.650
Brydan Byrne, Boy’s 200m Backstroke, qualified for the final with 2:06.86.
Boy’s Singles Round 3 (Last 16):
Eoghan Jennings (IRL) DEFEATED BY Vito Dalderi (ITA) 2-1 (7-5, 5-7, 1-6)