Michaela Walsh and Luke Sweeney.

Outstanding displays earn rewards in April

One of our April award winners is no stranger to the podium, while the other had a breakthrough year in his chosen sport at senior level.

For Michaela Walsh, 2019 was another outstanding year. This Swinford star, who is now a student at DCU, could be slotted into any number of months given her phenomenal success.

In April, however, while representing DCU, she won double gold in the women’s hammer and shot put and silver in the javelin at the Irish University Athletics Outdoor Championships, setting another two new DCU records in the process.

Back on the club scene, Michaela won gold in the women’s hammer at the National Senior Spring Throws Championships.

She then made history by becoming the first athlete to ever win four national titles on the one day when she claimed gold in the women’s shot put, hammer, weight for distance and javelin at the Under 23 National Athletics Outdoor Championships.

At senior level she won double gold at the National Senior Athletics Outdoor Championships in the hammer and shot put to rank her number one in Ireland in both events and claim her seventh national senior title, an achievement which was rewarded with selection to the Irish team to compete in the European Senior Team Championships in Norway, where she finished in sixth place.

Meanwhile, the progression of Ballina RFC at all levels in 2019 saw their senior team crowned All-Ireland League Division 2C champions. It was a spectacular campaign for the men from Heffernan Park as they brought their brand of exciting running rugby to national prominence.

There were many stars throughout the talented squad, but one young man made an impression which will live long in the memory. Luke Sweeney was only 19 when the campaign began but ended the season with his name on everyone’s lips.

His dynamic displays in the Ballina pack were highlighted by breathtaking breaks through opposition ranks, powerful work in the tight and selfless effort all around the pitch.

Luke’s displays and his leadership qualities caught the eye of everyone involved and when the 2019-20 season began, he was selected as vice-captain of the senior squad, a very rare accolade for someone so young.

Luke Sweeney has already made his name in the Ballina jersey, and his career has really only left the start line. The young man who came through the ranks from mini rugby has a stellar career stretching out in front of him.