This year’s Irish Championships were extra exciting as 18-year-old Ellis O’Reilly, the first woman from Ireland to qualify as an artistic gymnast to the Olympic Games after qualifying in Rio last month, headlined the competition to get in a bit of practice before European Championships.
O’Reilly had the highest senior all-around score of the day, earning a 51.55 for gold after successful routines on all four events. A senior since 2014, O’Reilly has competed twice at both worlds and Euros and was part of last summer’s inaugural European Games, where she was only a few spots shy of the all-around final and helped her team place 18th out of 25.
In second place was first-year senior Casey Jo Bell just four tenths behind O’Reilly with a 51.15. Bell, who trains at Salto Gymnastics in Belfast, is a history maker in her own right, becoming the first Irish girl to qualify into the all-around final at a Junior European Championships, which she made happen two years ago at age 14. With O’Reilly opting not to compete in the apparatus finals, Bell ended up standing out with clean routines across the board to sweep the golds, averaging a 13.4 on vault and then earning scores of 12.8 on bars, 12.8 on beam, and 12.433 on floor.
Bell is expected to compete at European Championships next month alongside O’Reilly as well as three-time worlds competitor Nicole Mawhinney, who was absent from this weekend’s competition.
Denise Moloney, 17, took the bronze all-around medal with a 45.15 and also earned bronze on floor with an 11.867. Paulina Wiktorczyk was fourth with a 44.65 and won the silver medals on vault with a 13.184, bars with a 12.325, and beam with an 11.8. Emer Shimizu was fifth with a 43.05 and Taylor Coyle was sixth with a 42.65, though she came back strong in apparatus finals to medal on every event, including silver on floor with a 12.2 and bronze on the rest, with a 12.75 on vault, 9.55 on bars, and 11.3 on beam.
The talented and promising 2002-born Meg Ryan of the Douglas Gymnastics Club in Cork was the standout junior performer, winning the all-around title, three apparatus golds, and the silver medal on bars. Ryan had especially strong work on beam, where her difficulty surpassed most of the senior competitors. She had a mistake there in the all-around competition, but managed a 12.566 in the final to win gold by over a point. Her vault gold came with a 13.05 average and on floor, she had an excellent routine for a 13.167. Unfortunately, she fell apart on bars, but even with the mistakes and a score of 9.3, the silver came somewhat easily to her in what was a weak field overall.
Liling Martin of Nadia Gymnastics, who represented Ireland at last year’s European Youth Olympic Festival, was the silver medalist with a 46.6. With Ryan’s mistakes on bars, she was able to swoop in and capture event gold there with a 10.025, and then picked up three more silver medals on the rest of the events, including a 12.733 average on vault, an 11.5 on beam, and a 12.333 for her clean performance on floor.
The bronze medalist in the all-around was Chloe Donnelly of Janz Gymnastics Club just outside of Dublin. She had a 42.8 overall, and also won the bronze medals on vault with a 12.384, bars with a 9.1, and floor with a 12.0. Kellie Nangle, who was ninth all-around with a 36.65, ended up earning the beam bronze with an 11.333.
Rounding out the junior all-around was Ailbhe Ni Dhuibhghiolla of Janz in fourth with a 41.5, Ceri Arnott of Janz in fifth with a 40.3, Caoilfhionn Ni Mhadagain of DP in sixth with a 39.65, Niamh Hutchinson of Sugarloaf in seventh with a 37.8, Grace Jordan of Janz in eighth with a 37.65, and Alice Fitzgerald in tenth with a 36.05. Rebecca Geddis, who was expected to reach the podium here, ended up not competing on vault and then she struggled quite a bit in event finals, falling on both bars and beam before placing fourth on floor with an 11.2.
The nominative roster for Euros had Geddis and Martin attending, but I could see Ryan looking good for a berth given her unexpectedly strong performance here.
The meet also featured espoir competitors, with Emma Slevin – who trains at Renmore alongside O’Reilly – winning the all-around gold with a 46.7. Slevin has made tremendous progress over the past year, and she had especially strong work on beam, winning the apparatus gold there with a 12.4 for her clean performance; she also won the floor bronze with an 11.7 and was sixth on bars with a 9.05.
Jane Heffernan, also of Renmore, was second with a 45.8 and was a beautiful gymnast to watch, with a skilled performance ability on floor, winning the event title there with a 12.2 for her clean and expressive work. Heffernan also won the bars gold with a 10.175 and the beam silver with an 11.3. The bronze medalist was Elisha Gallagher of Nadia Gymnastics with a 44.7. Gallagher was the sole espoir gymnast in the vault final, averaging a 12.434 to win gold, and she also tied Heffernan on floor for her second gold of the meet with a 12.2 in addition to placing fourth on beam with a 10.733 and seventh on bars with an 8.3.
Kate Molloy of Renmore, fourth in the all-around with a 44.65, was the bars silver medalist with a 9.725 and the beam bronze medalist with a 10.933; she also placed fourth on floor with an 11.3. Miriam Fuller, who competed only on bars and beam this weekend, won the bars bronze with a 9.375 and finished fifth on beam with a 10.133.
Rounding out the all-around was Jenna Fulton of Salto in fifth with a 40.85, Caoilfhionn Inglis of Trojan in sixth with a 40.6, Abbie Corbett of Salto in seventh with a 40.4, Shauna Rogers of Trojan in eighth with a 40.35, Zoe Gough of Trojan in ninth with a 37.1, Lily Furey of Salto in tenth with a 36.8, and Eve McGibbon of Salto in eleventh with a 30.8. Anu Slattery of Douglas Gymnastics Club competed all events but vault, Ava Madden of Janz competed vault and floor, and Caitlin Bernard of DP competed only on bars.
Full results from the Irish Championships are available here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins