As the light faded at Santry the boys’ shot putt – with some 25 competitors, was still going strong with the girls yet to start. At the javelin runway each of the young girls who stepped up, most strangers to the discipline, each got individual tuition from the kindly coach/official. Somewhere out in the gloom there were a series of 800m races going on. Impatient Dads wondered if they’d ever get away for a pint before closing time.

I’m not sure why this fixture was switched to a Friday night – something to do with a clash with a GAA event. It didn’t seem to affect the numbers competing, although many of our young Crusaders had found other important business on this occasion.

There is a savage fall-off in numbers however as children go up the age-groups. For the U15 discus, relegated to the field outside the main stadium, for example there were only a handful of throwers. Both Aoife Murray and Philip Murphy aquitted themselves pretty well in what was their first discus competition. But even at this slightly older and more experienced level the standard of throwing is poor in the extreme. Back in the main arena amongst the U13 girls’ javelin throwers only one or two had a notion of what to do. The shot is always popular as it is easy to perform. Dublin provides little hope for a revival in Ireland’s throwing fortunes – where are the coaches?

Out on the track Clodagh Ferry finished second in her 150m heat and also second in her long jump. (Just an observation – in the UK/Channel Islands children under 11 would not be allowed to sprint competitively for a greater distance than 60m due to the underdeveloped aerobic system at this age, but Ireland seem to have no such concerns). Rosin McGuill PB’d in her long jump. Orla Murray was 4th in her 150m heat and chucked the jav as well as most. Isabel O’Leary and Abby McNamara also ran well and Isabel, with her one valid throw came second in the shot. Trials were reduced to two each as night descended and Izzy’s second was a lovely glide which may have clinched the win but it clipped the sector line. Philip was left for dead in the 800m but gamely battled on to finish.

There is a great appetite amongst the youngsters for athletics with the Dublin officials hard pressed to cope sometimes. The great pity continues to be the massive dropout rate around ages 14/15.

Oh, and I got my pint.