A strange time at Irishtown. The summer holidays have arrived meaning attendances have tailed off predictably. On the other hand next weekend is the first of three consecutive weekends of national competition at Tullamore. These comprise individual, relay, multi-event and even a ‘B’ championships where all young athletes that did not qualify for the main championships can enter

This latter event will hardly be a feast of excellence but I think it’s a great idea to give keen youngsters the chance to travel and compete against others from around the country. And who is to say that, amongst those competing, there may not be a few elite athletes of the future? How youngsters will develop is impossible to predict. Indeed it is rare that champions at age 13 are champions ten years subsequently. Physical development together with attitude and desire will play a huge part. I get annoyed when I read about ‘stars of the future’ when the sport of athletics has such a drop-out rate in the teen years. So I say let’s celebrate the successes and achievements of these youngsters now, not project them into some unknown future. Their time is now.

Moira had a pole vault school going yesterday. Very basic stuff but the young ones love trying this event, and they are fortunate to have the opportunity. Once the track & field competition season is out of the way it is a chance to have a bit of fun, try some new things, before the onset of autumn and the cross-country season. Meanwhile there are new youngsters coming along all the time and yesterday Fergus (14) had me wishing he’d turned up two months ago.

Right, off to buy my rail season ticket for Tullamore. We have Crusaders in action on most days of the next three weekends and I’ll be there to support them. It’s hard to see any medals forthcoming, so my target is just the one – from somewhere. What an achievement that would be.