The Republic of Ireland’s only indoor 200m track is at Nenagh in North Tipperary, a couple of hours drive from the capital. Having found this nondescript town you are reliant on prior directions as there is not a single sign directing you there. And suddenly you come upon what is indeed a barn in a field.

Nonetheless the interior consists of a most acceptable facility for athletics. A banked, four-lane 200m track, a 10-lane 60m sprint/hurdles strip in the middle, twin long-jump pits at either side and high-jump beds to pull out into the middle once the sprinting is over. In addition there is a covered warm-up area where, rather disappointingly, the shot-putt facility is housed, down the end like an embarrassing relation.

The standard of competition was inevitably much higher than that our athletes experienced in Dublin and we didn’t threaten the podium.

  • First up early in the day was Matthew Behan in the U14 sprint hurdles. He was simply overpowered by bigger, stronger athletes and his 10.99 didn’t qualify him for the final.
  • Patrick Keegan competed well in the U16 long jump without threatening.
  • Brian Gray finished eighth out of nine in the U16 shot with a best of 9.92, beaten by fitter, stronger lads. His time will come if he works at it.
  • Alix Hughes arrived just in time to take part in the U14 shot. Although throwing nicely she was – like Matthew, the smallest in the field and did not make the cut. Alix will do better with more technical throws and has the early makings of a multi-eventer.

But back to the facility. I can’t fathom how, when the Celtic Tiger was roaring, Croke Park was being re-developed and Landsdowne Road completely rebuilt, Athletics Ireland couldn’t manage to produce at least one high performance athletics facility near to Dublin.