YOUNG SWIMMER’S SUCCESS IN ULSTER AND LEINSTER
Michael Fisher Northern Standard Carrickmacross News Thursday June 11th
It takes dedication to be a record-breaking swimmer, especially when there are no training facilities on your doorstep. 13 year-old Cathal Kearney from Ballintra, Inniskeen, is just finishing his first year at Patrician High School in Carrickmacross, a town which has never had a swimming pool. He belongs to the Aer Lingus Swimming club at Dublin airport and his training schedule has brought him gold medal success in Leinster as well as at Ulster schools’ level.
A typical day for him would involve classes at school until 3:30pm and then a journey of over an hour to Dublin airport. Training at the Aer Lingus 25m pool under the guidance of coach Alan Turner takes up to two hours. This means it’s usually 8pm by the time Cathal returns home and is able to start his school homework. Sometimes his mother drives him and on other occasions he gets a lift with swimmers from Dundalk.
Cathal told the Northern Standard that everyone at the well-run club was very supportive, in particular two of their successful Leinster and Ireland swimmers, Andrew Meegan and Benjamin Doyle.
Two months the Inniskeen student was selected to swim on the Leinster team at the Ulster Age Group and Youth Championship in Bangor, County Down. This is the top swimming competition in Ulster. Cathal won five gold medals and broke five Ulster records in the boys under 13 100m and 200m freestyle, 100m and 200m breaststroke, and the 200m individual medley. He also came second in the 400m freestyle.
Last month he was selected to swim on the Ulster Secondary Schools Interprovicial team, based on his performace at the Ulster Secondary Schools Competition last October, when he won the boys 13/14 years freestyle event. He came second in the 100m Breaststroke whilst representing Patrician High.
At the Interpro Championship Cathal won the 13/14 years 100m freestyle and finished 3rd in the 100m breaststroke, swimming a year out of his age in both events and thus helping his Ulster team to victory and claiming the Interprovincial cup.
A fortnight ago Cathal competed in Leinster for his club Aer Lingus in the Division 1 age group Open at the National Aquatic Centre in Blanchardstown. He was up against the best in Leinster as well as the best in Ulster, for whom he had already competed as a Monaghan schoolboy.
Cathal swam in six events over three days, with heats in the morning and finals in the afternoon. He came home to Inniskeen this time with six gold medals claiming the top award in the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle, 100m, 200m breaststroke and 200m IM.
Swimming seems to run in the Kearney family as Cathal’s younger sister Aoife (aged 11), is also competing and achieving at the highest standard. A pupil at St Daigh’s National School, Inniskeen, she currently holds both the Ulster and Irish Minor Schools titles in the Girls’ 50m backstroke. His cousin Shauna McGahon from Killanny is also a swimmer and has represented Monaghan at the community games.
It was as a 7 year-old taking part in the community games that Cathal first swam competitively. His mother had taken him to Dundalk for swimming lessons as a 5 year-old. At the start, he didn’t like them at all but he gradually got used to the water and has never looked back since. Cathal is the eldest of four children. As well as Aoife, he has another sister Kaitlin, aged 7, who also attends St Daigh’s school. The youngest in the family is 4 year-old Sean. As Cathal left Patrician High School where I met him, the Principal Joe Duffy came across and congratulated him on his sporting achievements. Hopefully he will bring back more medals to County Monaghan in future.