Belfast Telegraph

Bangor's Jill Nesbitt took silver in the 200m freestyle final. IAN TREVITHICK

Cooney eyes bigger rewards

AISLING Cooney left the Irish Open championships having compounded her status as an emerging talent.

AISLING Cooney left the Irish Open championships having compounded her status as an emerging talent.

Cooney broke the Irish junior backstroke record for the second time in a month on the final day of competition at the Laganvalley Leisureplex.

The bubbly 16-year-old from the ESB club certainly has the ambition to go with her talent and has an envious eye on those competing at the European Championships in Budapest, which started today and included Andrew Bree's first event the 100m breaststroke.

"I'm delighted with the way I have performed but now I know that I have to go to the next level and I'll have to think about my training and what it's going to take over the next few years," says Cooney.

"My dream is the Olympics of course but before that I want to be on the European short course and long course teams and the World championships as well.

"I know it's going to take a lot of sacrifice to do that but I'm prepared for that and if it means going away, the way Andrew Bree, Barry Murphy and Steven Manley have done, then I would certainly be prepared to do that."

Cooney's new Irish junior 100m back best was 1:03.09, with Enniskillen's 15-year-old Chelsey Wilson picking up bronze in 1:06.06.

The championships finished on a high when Cormorant set a new Irish senior record for the women's 4x100m medley relay.

The quartet of Laura McDonnell, Sinead Tyrrell, Niamh McDonnell and Fiona Fenton came home in a new Irish best of 4:21.49 ahead of Trojan, 4:29.66 and Bangor, 4:30.92.

Tyrrell also won double gold on the final day in the 400m individual medley and 200m butterfly. Four Ulster swimmers picked up silver medals on Saturday, with Larne's Jonny Niblock crowned Irish champion as Exeter's Ryan Tancock took the Open title and gold medal in the 50m freestyle with a time of 22.90. Niblock touched in 23.87, ahead of clubmate Andy Hunter who clocked 24.02.

Lisburn's rising star Bethany Carson was just edged out of gold by Galway's Emma Porter in the women's 50m free.

Porter just pulled away at the last to win in 27.23 with Carson clocking in 27.40.

Jill Nesbitt also landed silver in the women's 200m free as she clocked 2:05.85 with gold going to Sharon Coady of Cormorant in 2:05.19.

The Ulster quartet of silver medallists was completed when Ashleigh Hyland of Bangor was second in the 100m breaststroke in 1:14.59 behind Trojan's Suzanna Murphy, 1:12.07. Enniskillen's Orla McGandy was third in 1:16.09.

The race of the championships came in the men's 100m breaststroke final which was won by Trojan's Mark Donovan in 1:05.70, just two hundredths ahead of clubmate Steve O'Nolan, whose brother Kevin was third.

Another Trojan man, Florry Connell won the men's 200m butterfly in 2:01.89 ahead of Bexley's Darren Chappell, 2:02.25, and David Graham of Ards, 2:05.11.


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