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Athletics season reaches climax

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SWANSEA UNIVERSITY’S Athletics Track played host to the end-of-season Welsh Athletics Junior League Cup & Plate Finals for U11, U13 and U15 athletes over the Bank Holiday weekend (Aug 24-25) as temperatures reached the mid-twenties Celsius.

It saw sixteen teams from East and West Wales and around 500 competitors attend over the two-day competition as the summer track and field season concluded before the winter campaign gets up and running this month.

Four weeks after Welsh Schools hosted the SIAB Schools U17 International at Swansea towards the end of July, the latest weekend was a great chance to see up-and-coming future stars compete in this team event.

With the same events and age groups to the Louise Arthur League, the only difference this time around was the clubs were restricted to just two athletes per event, rather than four that has been permitted at league fixtures over the course of the summer at Carmarthen, Hereford, Neath, Cardiff, Haverfordwest, Aberdare and Swansea.

Up to twenty-four athletes from each club had the opportunity to represent their team in one of the six 4 x 100m relays and it was an excellent climax to the programme.

After the typical Welsh wet weather and strong winds for mid-August which resulted in the cancellation of the final Welsh Athletics U17, U20 and Senior League at the very same venue exactly a fortnight ago, conditions were much better and ideal this time for a great holiday weekend of action on the track and in the field with the sun shining down on the facility.

Llanelli AC were placed in the plate final alongside Pontyclun AC, Neath Harriers, Bridgend AC and Barry & Vale Harriers, Blaenau Gwent AC, Aberdare VAAC, Hereford & County AC, Rhondda AC & Cwmbran Harriers and placed in an excellent third.

In the cup final 24 hours later, Carmarthen Harriers and Pembrokeshire Harriers junior teams went head to head with Cardiff Archers, Cardiff Athletics, Swansea Harriers, Newport Harriers, Rhymney Valley AC and Brecon AC in the cup final.

Carmarthen Harriers finished in fifth whilst Pembrokeshire Harriers were seventh at the end of the sixty-eight events completed.

Overall plate and cup winners were Neath Harriers and Swansea Harriers respectively, with the latter winning the trophy for the second successive year on their home turf.

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Sport

Welsh Athletics celebrate success

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MORE than 200 people from all four corners of the country headed to the Vale Resort Hotel in Hensol, Vale of Glamorgan on Saturday evening (October 19) to attend the annual Welsh Athletics National Celebration Awards Dinner for 2019.
The evening celebrated all the successes and achievements that happened across the sport of athletics in Wales over the last 12 months with a large number of athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and club & group representatives in attendance.
There were twenty-eight awards up for grabs with an expert panel deciding on who the worthy winners were for each one. The awards were across a variety of categories…from clubs, groups and volunteers to officials, coaches and athletes.
Altogether, 22 individuals, 5 clubs and 1 group shared the awards on offer and were welcomed to the stage to be recognised for their contributions.
Hosts for the evening was ever-present Rob Cole and joining him on the stage this year was Mica Moore. Sam Gordon, Jeremiah Azu, Steve Perks, Matt Newman, James Williams, Dafydd Trystan and Kelly Southerton were others who spoke throughout the evening.
It was fantastic to receive confirmation a fortnight ago from the new Chair of Welsh Athletics, Steve Perks that Carmarthen & District Harriers Athletics Club had been nominated to receive the Welsh Athletics Junior Off-Track Club of the Year award at this year’s awards dinner in the Vale Resort Hotel.
Present from the athletics club on the evening and joining other deserving winners from across Wales were Jake Morgan (Club Chairman), Cressy Morgan (Club Secretary), Richard Jones (Club Treasurer), Alison Thomas (Officials Secretary), Neil Thomas, David Toogood, Carol Jones and Delyth Brown (Club Endurance Coaches), Dafydd Jones and Frank Morgan (Club under 15/17 Endurance Athletes) and Nathan Jones (Club Media Officer).
Cross Country and Road Running successes in 2018 and the start of 2019 from endurance young members contributed to the club winning this award in 2019.
The Welsh Athletics Clubs Cross Country Championships came to Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire for the first year back in February and saw the under-11 boys, under-13 boys, under-15 boys and the Female Master 40 teams come away with gold medals on home turf whilst there were bronze medals for the under-11 girls.
The under-13 boys and under-15 boys were victorious at the 2018 Welsh Athletics Road Relay Championships to match their cross-country championships titles. Back in September, the under-11 boys and under-13 boys came away with comfortably victories at the recent 2019 edition of the Road Relays Championships and have got off a great start to the 2019 winter season in October.
The under-11 boys and under-13 boys also became John H Collins Gwent Cross Country League team champions backed up by second place for under-13 girls and third for the novice girls.
Two of Carmarthen Harriers’ endurance athletes Dafydd Jones and Frank Morgan, both pupils at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Myrddin were there to go up and collect the award on behalf of the whole club.
Another to be recognised locally in West Wales was coach Kevin Evans who continues to coach athletes at the track in Carmarthen and a great supporter of the club. After collecting the Endurance Performance Coach of the Year in 2018, Evans was the recipient of the “International Performance Coach of the Year” this time around.
President the award on stage was local Carmarthenshire athlete and one of Kevin’s training group, Dewi Griffiths who hopes to be back to full fitness soon.
International athletes in Wales voted for their “Athletes’ Athlete of the Year” and announced as the winner was Pembrokeshire Harriers’ Heather Lewis, who enjoyed a great season on the race-walking circuit. Elsewhere, James Tomlinson was the “Junior Track & Field Athlete of the Year.” It was a double success here with his coach Paul Jensen, the “Track & Field Performance Coach of the Year”.
Swansea Harriers picked up both the “Off Track Club of the Year” in the older categories whilst the juniors enjoyed success too and as a result, won the “Junior Track & Field Club of the Year”.

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Old Gold outplayed by Aber

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Nathaniel MG League Cup Quarter-Final
Carmarthen Town 0 – Aberystwyth 3

CARMARTHEN comfortably disposed of two Cymru South teams in the earlier rounds of this League Cup competition. Local CPL rivals Aberystwyth posed a far stiffer test for a place in the semi-finals. It was a challenge that the Old Gold never seemed likely to overcome.
Even before the match had begun, Town’s prospects looked grim.
Six of the current regular match-day squad were absent, injured, while Academy player Mabon Evans was given his first-team debut.
Manager Danny Thomas could name only two substitutes, both also from the Academy.
Early on, the play was evenly-balanced. Both teams enjoyed their fair share of possession. While both counter-attacked enthusiastically, there were no early scoring chances, as both defences coped with the intermittent pressure.
However, on 8 minutes the Seasiders created the first significant opportunity when Adam Hughes, on the half-way line, sent a fine pass through to Geoff Kellaway who from 20 yards dispatched a fierce volley that ‘keeper Lee Idzi turned aside with an impressive flying save.
Gradually, Aberystwyth took greater control of the game, progressively enjoying more possession and territory.
The Old Gold’s counter-attacking opportunities became even more sporadic and Liam Thomas increasingly looked isolated as the sole striker.
Even with the pressure, scoring chances for the visitors stayed elusive until the 29th minute, when Paulo Mendes hit a powerful long-range drive that Idzi was well-placed to claim.
On 43 minutes the Green Machine deservedly took the lead.
Wes Baynes made a determined run into the home penalty area to reach a long pass from Lee Jenkins but was promptly brought down under a clumsy challenge by Chris Jones. Matthew Jones stepped forward and confidently fired the spot-kick into the corner of the net leaving Idzi well-beaten.
After the interval, Carmarthen created an early scoring opportunity when Greg Walters sent the ball forward to the edge of the penalty area. Chris Jones laid off a neat header and Declan Carroll struck a fierce 20-yard drive that flew narrowly over the bar.
Moments later Walters was involved with another successful scoring opportunity; however, regrettably, this happened at the other end of the pitch.
Baynes sent a dangerous cross into the penalty area where Town’s combative midfielder, presumably attempting to clear the ball, only managed to divert it over Idzi and into the roof of the net.
With the Old Gold now in desperate need of a goal to salvage any chance of progressing to the Cup semi-finals, midfielder Chris Jones was sent forward to operate as a striker – but, curiously, this was not to partner Liam Thomas but to replace him since Town’s highly experienced, prolific, all-time record goal-scorer was pushed back to take over the now-vacant midfield role.
Sadly, it soon became evident that this strategy was having no positive effect.
The Seasiders continued to dominate possession, largely commanded the midfield, and swarmed forward at every opportunity. However, the Old Gold defence, well-marshalled by the experienced central partnership of Lee Surman and Dave Vincent, resisted the pressure – initially.
After 60 minutes Jenkins made a strong run from the half-way line before playing the ball on to Joe Phillips, just inside the penalty area, who fired a smart 15-yard drive narrowly over the bar.
Aberystwyth continued to increase the pace and intensity of their attacking and were soon carving through the overworked Town defence time and again.
In the 67th minute, Ryan Edwards threaded a fine pass through to Phillips who took the ball into the penalty area before clinically drilling it past Idzi and into the back of the net.
After their third goal, the visitors sat back to hold their advantage. While the Old Gold tried hard, late efforts by Jones and Carroll failed to put a dent in the scoreline.
This was a depressing performance; not just because it ended in defeat, but also because of its manner. It was a comprehensive defeat by a team that stands only two places above Carmarthen in the League table. With tougher challenges to come, the Old Gold will now aim at Cymru Premier League survival and better, more productive, performances.

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Ammanford get bogged down at the Lido

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JD Cymru South league
Afan Lido FC v Ammanford AFC

IT was a rain swept Marston Stadium home of Afan Lido FC that greeted both teams and a hardy set of supporters who braved the awful weather conditions.
Referee Ben Williams made an inspection of Lido’s pitch half an hour before kick off and having bounced and kicked a football across the ground deemed the match on.
The game got under way with both teams having to contend with the driving rain and gale force winds that swept in from the Aberavon sea front.
Players had to quickly adapt to the playing surface.
The Lido settled quicker of the two teams and took the lead after 11 minutes played when Kaid Mohamed crossed the ball into the Ammanford six yard area which was turned into the Ammanford net by striker Sean Hanbury 1-0
Ammanford should have equalised in the 23rd minute when striker Lee Trundle broke free on the right and played a pass to midfielder Mathew Fisher who could not control his shot and the chance went begging.
Three minutes later Ammanford’s pacemen combined to create another golden chance to equalise. Tristan Jenkins played a cross into Gavin Jones whose close range effort looked for all the world as if it was going into the Lido goal net but the ball seemed to stick in the mud on the goalline and was scrambled away to safety.
Half chances were falling to both teams as the art of defending was becoming more difficult as the game progressed. With over half an hour gone Ammanford were awarded a penalty kick and Lee Trundle stepped up to take it. Trundle fired his spot kick towards the goal but Lido Goalkeeper Steven Cann guessed to dive the right way and the ball hit is outstretched legs and rebounded high into the air and out of play to safety.
As the half time whistle went it was Lido with the 1-0 advantage but the visitors Ammanford were left ruing their missed chances.
The second half saw the home side more of a counter attacking force as Ammanford tried to push forward in search of the equaliser.
Lido could have increased their lead but for some off target shooting.On the hour mark Ammanford thought they had their equaliser when striker Lee Trundle controlled the ball, swivelled and shot the ball towards goal but the ball was only half stopped and the ball continued to roll its way to the back of the net but Lido Goalkeeper Cann managed a last ditch grasp of the ball and the ball was stopped agonisingly short of crossing his goal line. Ammanford appealed that the ball had crossed the goal line and the referee looked to his Assistant who confirmed that the ball had not crossed the line.
Ammanford made attacking substitutions by bringing on Andy Robinson, Craig Frater and Bruno Forkouh in an attempt to try and get something from the game.
Lido finally wrapped up the points with four minutes of normal time played when forward Kaid Mohamed latched onto a loose ball and unchallenged he lofted the ball over the Ammanford defence into the net 2-0.
Ammanford tried to push forward but were left frustrated in the end as Lido claimed the victory and ended Ammanford’s winning run.
Ammanford’s attention now turns to JD Welsh Cup action when they take on Ton Pentre at home in Round 2.

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