Sam Barnes' photo of Sarah Quinn, St. Colman's South Mayo AC (left), on her way to winning the senior women's 60m hurdles at the Irish Life Health National Senior Indoor Athletics Championships last year, which he named 'On To A Quinner', made an impact on the judges at the PPAI Awards on Friday night. Photo: Sam Barnes / Sportsfile

Mayo athlete features in award-winning photograph

Sportsfile won three awards at the annual Press Photographers Association of Ireland (PPAI) Awards on Friday night, with three first-time winners in Piaras Ó Mídheach, Sam Barnes and Seb Daly.

Sam Barnes took third place in the Sports Action category with 'On To A Quinner' – a picture (above) of athlete Sarah Quinn of St. Colman’s South Mayo Athletic Club out in front on her way to winning the women’s 60m hurdles event during the Irish Life Health National Senior Indoor Athletics Championships.

The picture was taken at the National Indoor Arena in Abbotstown at the start of March last year, before social distancing, hand sanitisation and yellow stickers became a part of our world.

“This was pre-lockdown so Covid hadn’t fully hit in yet,” said Sam. “Fans were allowed to attend, but you noticed things like athletes not shaking hands, lots of elbow bumps, that kind of thing.

“As usual it was another busy day in the arena, lots of people about, something that seems alien now sadly. I arrived there about 11 a.m. and left at about 6 p.m. – a pretty packed timetable, trying to get a nice selection of images and to try and cover a range of events and get the pictures sent.

“I really enjoy the variety of events that athletics offers. It gives lots of options to try and be creative. I’ve been the ‘athletics guy’ for a while now, so have formed relationships with athletes and officials, which helps, and makes the events enjoyable to cover.

“My colleague Eóin was there working with me on the day and he had the finish line picture covered, so with him trusted to do that picture, it allowed me to search for something different, a bit of a gamble but it paid off.”

Sam's colleague Piaras Ó Mídheach won second place in the Sports Action category, while James Crosbie of INPHO Photography won first prize with Foggy Semi-Final, an action shot as fog descended in an empty, eerie Croke Park with Mayo and Tipperary playing out their All-Ireland senior football championship last four game in early December.

Crosbie was named the overall Press Photographer of the Year thanks to his portfolio throughout the year, while Mayo snapper Keith Heneghan features in the PPAI 2021 Exhibition with 'Backyard Ironman', which depicts ironman Stephen Donnelly preparing for a virtual triathlon by swimming in an industrial skip at his home in Ballina.

The third Sportsfile winner was Seb Daly, who earned second place in the Portrait Category with his photograph of Ellen Keane, the Allianz Brand ambassador and Paralympic bronze medallist swimmer. He went under water to take the shot.

“The shot is simple yet powerful. Ellen stands strong in the water, calm and determined. This is her world,” Seb said.

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