Northern Ireland Youth Development League 2014:

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NI Youth Development League 2014 (by John Glover):

The Northern Ireland Youth Development League held its opening round at a cold and windy Antrim Stadium on Saturday 26th April and in so doing celebrated the 25th year of League competition for young athletes in the Province.  The original sponsors in 1990 were Woolworths and a variety of transformations have taken place in the last two and a half decades but the formula and purpose remains the same, namely to provide a meaningful competitive opportunity for those athletes who it is hoped will be the stars of the future.

Certainly looking back previous at  results there has been a significant number of youngsters who have progressed to the higher echelons of the sport. Taking just the inaugural final in 1990 it had a fair sprinkling of future British and Irish stars including Karen Mills (Kirk), Vicki Jamison (Kennedy), Kelly McNeice (Neely),  Eddie King,  and Olympians Paul McKee and John McAdorey not to mention those like Jonny Davis and Judith McVicker who were to make names for themselves in other sports. And interestingly few of them were actually winners on the day!

So who emerged as potential stars from the class of 2014?  While the wind played havoc with performances there were still quite a few performances which shone through and promised bigger and better things as the season progresses.  Megan Marrs has of course already established herself on the local scene, and in Britain, and she was head and shoulders above the opposition in the 100 metres while big brother Robbie was equally dominant in the High Jump.

North Down’s duo of Saskia Greer and Olivia Cumming were the only girls to break 45 seconds for the 300 metres while in the Boys 400m Ciaran Barnes must be a strong prospect especially when they put 10 flights of hurdles into his one lap journey. Zoe Carruthers looked to be on her way to a comfortable 3000 metres victory but was unable to relax on the last lap due to a strong effort by Omagh’s Toni Moore. Rebecca Douglas had no such problems on the way to a gun to tape 800 metres victory.  Olivia Nelson in the Under 15 girls two lap event looked to be clear but eventually succumbed to a fast finishing Enya Haigney (Omagh Harriers).

In the field events Jack McGee (Ballymena and Antrim) and Michael Gaffney (North Down) fought out a fifty metres plus Javelin battle with the former winning by a mere 7 centimetres.  In the Under 15 Boys event another North Down athlete Oscar Fannata Yandall was well ahead of his peers with a throw of 34.20 metres. For the Girls it was the Shot Putt which caught the eye (metaphorically) with good wins by Lagan Valleys’s  Sarah McGlynn and Lisburn’s Alix Galbraith.

There was a better than usual turn out for the accompanying Senior events on offer and three of our leading Junior sprinters Jonathan Browning (Ballymena and Antrim AC), Christian Robinson and Gareth Thompson (both Lisburn) did their best to defy the strong headwind in the 100 metres, Browning clocking a winning 11.17.  In the 800 metres Willowfield’s Andrew Wright warmed up for next weeks schools with a strong final 200 metres to break the tape (again metaphorical) in 1.57.56.  A long day for athletes, spectators and officials (some of whom were at Antrim from 8.30am) and so it is on to Round 2 at the same venue on Saturday 24th May 2014.

Full Results:  Athletics NI Youth Development League 2014 (Round 1) Results (Photo used above was taken from the City of Lisburn AC facebook page).