The AAAs Athletics Championships, now rebranded as the England Athletics Championships, have always had a certain cache in the world of track and field and for talented young Fermanagh sprinter Jack O’Connor they were the setting for his international debut last weekend.

Running in the beautifully refurbished Alexander Stadium, upgraded for last summer’s Commonwealth Games, O’Connor had a busy weekend, wearing the green of Ireland rather than the blue of St Michael’s, competing in three rounds of the 100m on Saturday and following that with the 200m on Sunday.

After a second consecutive very early start he safely negotiated the morning heat taking second place in 11.33secs before delivering a fine personal best of 11.17secs in the afternoon’s semi-final to again finish second and progress safety to the final.

In that final, ran in the cool of late evening, he was just edged out of the medals, joining Ireland World Championship stars Ciara Mageean and Rhasidat Adeleke in that most agonising of finishing places, fourth in 11.32secs.

After a late finish on Saturday evening he was in the block again early on Sunday morning for the longer sprint, and with all the athletes glad to hear that the planned three rounds had been reduced to two, O’Connor cruised into the final, winning his heat easily from lane one in 23.53secs.

In the final a few hours later he went toe to toe with 100m bronze medalist Jonathan Dumbutshena of Swindon Harriers with the English athlete proving just the stronger, with O’Connor taking silver in another personal best of 22.79secs.

Not since long jumper Ciaran Dolan (gold 2007/silver 2008) has a Fermanagh athlete medalled at the AAAs , and this was a very positive part of Jack’s development as an athlete, as he now looks forward to a break, before the hard winter work begins to build on a season of excellence progression.