So the Arcu Male Athletes of 2014 are…
Male Athlete of the Year
#1: Adam King – u18 – Iveragh
As in the girl’s top 10, the number one spot goes to a thrower. Adam showed his dominance in recording the best 11 throws in Ireland with the 5kg hammer in 2014. His only loss of the year in Ireland came in the early-season Spring Throws Meet, where he was beaten by James Williams. Since that competition he was on an upwards curve, which reached its peak just when it counted, at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. In the heats, he flung the hammer out to a new PB of 71.91, a mark that ranked 15th on the 2014 World Youth list. Then in the final, he threw 71.49 to finish 8th. Leading up to the big season-finale in China, Adam showed his good form by taking the Irish u18 title with a magnificent new championship record of 71.90. His only blip in the season came at the European Youth Olympic Trials where after a great heat, he finished 11th in the final.
#2: Karl Griffin – u20 – Tír Chonaill/UCD
With his 4th place finish in the World Junior 800m semi-final, Karl had the best championship performance of the year. Time wise, the 1:47.44 he ran at the Morton Games ranked him as the 19th fastest Junior in the world in 2014, and the 8th fastest junior not hailing from Kenya or Ethiopia. In National competition, he won the Irish Junior Outdoor title as well as taking silver in the National Senior Indoors. He didn’t compete at the Irish Senior Outdoors as it was held just a week before the World Juniors. In the University Championships, he won national silver indoors and out. He was defeated by junior athletes Rob Tully (twice) and Harry Purcell (once) in 2014, which weakened his challenge for the number one spot.
#3: Eoin Sheridan – u18 – North Westmeath
Eoin put together an impressive season, notching up the top 9 performances in Ireland with the 1.5kg discus, with his best mark of 58.44 ranking him 18th on the 2014 World Youth list. That result came in the heats of the European Youth Olympic Trials, and while he fell somewhat short of that mark in the final, his 6th place finish was still most impressive. That secured him a spot in the Youth Olympic Games, where he finished 5th in the B final. If he had recreated the exact same performances he did at the European trials, he would have finished 8th in the A final. Eoin’s season was, of course, not just limited to the major championships. He won the Irish u18 discus title to complete is unbeaten season in Ireland, secured the shot-discus double at the Tailteanns and then went on to win the Schools International in his best event, throwing a new championship record. He also performed well in the shot, placing 4th.
#4: Daniel Ryan – u16 – Moycarkey Coolcroo
Despite not having the opportunity to compete in a major international competition in 2014, Daniel Ryan was a strong contender for the top spot after putting together a nearly flawless season. He won an astonishing 8 Irish titles, all at u16 level, taking 4 titles both indoors and out. Not content with just that, he added three Irish Schools gold medals to his collection over the course of the year, winning the 100mH, long jump and pentathlon. Internationally, he won the Celtic Games 100mH title and the Schools International Indoor Pentathlon. On the record front, he set new Irish u16 Championships records in the long jump during the indoor and outdoor season. He managed to win Irish titles in 6 disciplines this year, the 60m, 60mH, Long Jump, Pentathlon, 100mH and discus.
#5: Sam Healy – u19 - Leevale
Sam Healy’s National Junior Record in the 110mH was sure to get him onto the top 10, but his 9 Irish Championship titles and 2 Irish Schools titles certainly helped as well. Interestingly, he managed to reach that tally of titles in just the sprint hurdles and long jump, although he traversed 3 age group categories to get there. In the latter event, he won the senior outdoor title, as well as riding a 4.0 gale out to 7.51 at the English u20 Championships. The wind played on the right side of the law for his NJR in the 110mH, blowing at 1.8m/s as he sped down the track in 14.11 seconds. Sam is somewhat a specialist in doing the sprint hurdle-long jump double, having achieved the feat at the Irish u19 and Junior Champs both indoors and outdoors and at the Irish Schools. That’s 5 doubles.
#6: Kevin Mulcaire – u18 – Ennis Track
Our 6th best athlete of 2014 is Kevin Mulcaire. In 2014, he won the Irish Schools Intermediate 1500m-3000m double, setting a new record in the longer event. He then went on to win the Tailteanns and Schools International over 3000m. His fastest time over the distance was the 8:22.76 he ran at Cork City Sports. Had he ran in the European Youth Olympic Trials instead of the Irish Schools it would have been likely that he would have been in medal contention. Kevin also impressed over cross country, starting off with an Irish Schools title, which he followed up with a silver at the Schools International. Then on the club scene, he blew the field away at the u18+Junior race to secure qualification for the European Cross Country.
#7: Donagh Mahon – u18 – Gowran
The 7th spot on the top 10 goes to Donagh Mahon, who leaped 2.12 to rank 12th on the 2014 World Youth List. During the indoor season, he cleared 2.10, a new Irish Youth indoor record. He won the Irish u18 high jump title both indoors and out, setting a new championship record in the former. On the international scene, Donagh competed at the European Youth Olympic Trials in Baku, Azerbaijan, where he finished 7th in the final, missing qualification to the Youth Olympic Games by two spots. He also won the Celtic Games high jump title and was unbeaten in u18 competition in Ireland. At senior level, he won bronze at the Irish Outdoors, where he beat talented Irish juniors David Cussen and Jaime Murtagh.
#8: John Kelly – u19 – Finn Valley
John Kelly won 3 Irish titles in the shot put and 1 in the discus, helping him earn a spot on the top 10. He also made it to the top step of the podium at the Irish Schools, taking shot put gold in the senior category. He them moved up to the senior men’s category in club competition, where he launched the shot out to 15.27 to take the Irish Outdoor bronze. John was on record breaking form this year, setting new national championship records both indoors and out in his age group. Now in 2015 he has the potential to chase at least one of the Irish Junior records.
#9: James Kelly – u15 – Finn Valley
Already hunting John’s records is his brother James, who makes it a Kelly brother double on the top 10 list. It was hard to separate the two shot putters, as they both picked up 3 Irish titles in their age group, as well as winning the Irish Schools title. James even matched John in setting championship records in the Irish indoors and outdoors. Both athletes also completed unbeaten seasons with their age group weight. John got the nod, due to his senior medal and Irish junior title.
#10: Kevin McGrath – u16 – Bohermeen
Kevin McGrath won the Irish u16 middle distance double both indoors and out, triumphed at the Irish Schools in the u16 mile and also took gold at the Celtic Games over 1500m. He put together an unbeaten season on the track in his age group and dominated on the Irish u16 1500m top list, with 7 of the top 9 fastest times. He also ran fast when it counted, running his second fastest time of 4:01.43 to place 6th at the Schools International.
In no particular order: Marcus Lawler, Sean Lawlor, Robbie Marrs, Keith Marks, Zak Irwin.