A chilly Conahy was the venue as athletes from all over Kilkenny competed in the county senior cross-country championships on Sunday.
A keenly-anticpated event, the day proved to a very successful one for the host club Kilkenny City Harriers (KCH).
The Harriers got their charge for gold into gear in the women’s race, which was run over 4km on a testing course. From the off, a leading group of athletes broke clear.
Defending champion Maria Griffin (St Joseph’s) was joined by clubmate Sally Forristal, Miriam Maher (Castlecomer), Aine Kinsella (St Senan’s) and Aoibhe Richardson (KCH).
Going out on the last lap it was neck and neck between Forristal and Richardson for the gold, with the contest for the bronze medal between Maria Griffin and Aine Kinsella. Competition for team honours was just as keen, with a fine balanced between St Joseph’s and KCH.
With half a lap to go the young KCH athlete Aoibhe Richardson made her break for home to achieve a handsome victory. Sally Forristal had to settle for silver, while the bronze medal contest was a much closer affair with St Joseph’s Maria Griffin edging out Aine Kinsella in the sprint to the line.
KCH doubled up on their successes by taking the team title with Rita McGarvey, Lisa Collins and Caoimhe Foley completing the scoring four. St Joseph’s were second, just four points behind, with Frances Mullally and Anita Barry completing their scoring team. Third place and team bronze went to Castlecomer AC. Miriam Maher, Kathryn Nolan, Mary Coady and Janette Boran were the scoring four for ’Comer.
New title holder
The men’s race was run over a distance of 10km, but even before the race the one certainty was that there would be a new title holder - Eoin Everard, the 2013 champion, was unavailable while Brian Maher, the champion of the previous seven years, was absent through injury.
The in-form Thos Hayes (KCH) was everybody’s favourite to take the title. Hayes put name in the frame to take the title a week earlier, finishing third in the national novice championships.
The absence of some of their big stars also meant that KCH would have to fight hard to hold off the challenge of their rivals Gowran, despite both clubs having somewhat weakened teams.
From the gun Hayes sped into the lead making light of a course which, although full of running, had some tricky twists and turns.
Niall Sheehan (Gowran), never an athlete to shirk a challenge, set off in hot pursuit. Despite nailing down a fine second place and a silver medal finish, he was unable to make an impression on the fleet-footed Hayes.
The battle for the bronze provided yet another subplot. Sean Power (Thomastown) is another athlete who enjoys being a frontrunner and he quickly opened a gap on KCH athletes Paul Moran and David McPherson, both of whom are formidable opponents, securing a fine bronze medal finish for himself, with the KCH men settling for fourth and fifth places respectively.
With Gowran athletes Cormac Buggy and Val Gunner finishing sixth and seventh the battle for team honours came down to the finishing position of the fourth scoring athlete.
The lead changed a few times in the course of the race, but in the end Eoin Molloy was the trump card for KCH. His 12th place finish meant the city club retained the Senior Shield with just three points to spare over second place Gowran who had Marty Mosley as their fourth scorer.
Team bronze medals went to Thomastown, with Danny Shanahan, Pat O’Reilly and Bill Carroll completing their squad.
Gowran won team gold in the B team section with St Joseph’s taking both silver and bronze. Veteran Seamus Power was their top athlete, finishing in 13th place.
Special mention must be made of another veteran, Gowran’s Mick Walsh. Mick, well known as an accomplished musician, celebrated a significant birthday and over 30 years ago was regularly breaking the three hour barrier for the marathon. He still has the energy and fitness levels to compete in such a testing sporting event.
Thanks went to the Maher family for the use of their lands for the championships.
The action moves to Gowran in January with the county over-35 championships for men and women, followed by the Leinster senior and junior cross-country championships. Track and field athletes will also be back in action with the start of the indoor season.
Results, county senior cross-country championships (club key: CC = Castlecomer, G = Gowran, KCH = Kilkenny City Harriers, SJ = St Joseph’s, SS = St Senan’s, TT = Thomastown):
Senior Women - 1 Aoibhe Richardson (KCH), 2 Sally Forristal (SJ), 3 Maria Griffin (SJ), 4 Aine Kinsella (SS), 5 Rita McGarvey (KCH), 6 Miriam Maher (CC), 7 Lisa Collins (KCH), 8 Caoimhe Foley (KCH), 9 Frances Mullally (SJ), 10 Kathryn Nolan (CC), 11 Anita Barry (SJ), 12 Caroline Mullally (SJ), 13 Mary Coady (CC), 14 Verena Fenlon (SJ), 15 Sheila O’Callaghan (KCH), 16 Janette Boran (CC), 17 Emily Maher (KCH), 18 Maura Bambrick (G), 19 Mag O’Connor (SJ), 20 Jean Martin (KCH), 21 Mary Kealy (G), 22 Tracey Malone (SJ).
Teams: 1 KCH, 21pts; 2 St Joseph’s, 25pts; 3 Castlecomer, 45pts; 4 St Joseph’s, 67pts.
Senior Men - 1 Thos Hayes (KCH), 2 Niall Sheehan (G), 3 Sean Power (TT), 4 Paul Moran (KCH), 5 David McPherson (KCH), 6 Cormac Buggy (G), 7 Val Gunner (G), 8 Danny Shanahan (TT), 9 Paddy O’Keeffe (G), 10 Marty Mosely (G), 11 Pat O’Reilly (TT), 12 Eoin Molloy (KCH), 13 Seamus Power (SJ), 14 David Dempsey (G), 15 Patrick Bookle (SJ), 16 Ed O’Keeffe (KCH), 17 Lyndon Barcoe (G), 18 Mark O’Duffy (KCH), 19 Tom McDonald (SJ), 20 Simon O’Dwyer (G), 21 Michael Ryan (SJ), 22 Adrian Cunningham (G), 23 Bill Carroll (TT), 24 Luke Morgan (SS), 25 Paul Sheehan (SJ), 26 Rocky Mernagh (SJ), 27 Michael Power (SJ), 28 Pat Purcell (KCH), 29 Billy Holden (G), 30 Denis Carrigan (KCH), 31 Sean Hokey (SJ), 32 Muiris Bric (G), 33 Mick Walsh (G).
Teams: 1 KCH, 22pts; 2 Gowran, 25pts; 3 Thomastown, 45pts; 4 KCH, 92pts. B Section: 1 Gowran, 65pts; 2 St Joseph’s, 68pts; 3 St Joseph’s, 109pts.
There was a local connection to the senior Irish women’s team who won a brilliant bronze team medal at the European cross-country championships on Sunday.
The team, who competed in the event at Samokov, Bulgaria, featured Borrisokane athlete Siobhan O’Doherty, a physio at St Luke’s Hospital.
O’Doherty joined Fionnuala Britton, Sara Treacy, Michelle Finn, Ann-Marie McGlynn and Laura Crowe in securing Ireland a seventh team medal at the championships with an 87pt finish.
The Kilkenny Athletics Co Board held their annual draw recently. Winners were: 1 €150 Seamus O’Neill, Castlecomer AC; 2 €100 Orla O’Keeffe, Thomastown AC; 3 Hamper James Aylward, St Senan’s AC; 4 Hamper Niamh O’Shea, Thomastown AC; 5 Hamper Daniel Grant, St Joseph’s AC; 6 Hamper Shane Morrissey, St Senan’s AC; 7 Hamper Paddy Phelan, Castlecomer AC; 8 Hamper Stella Coady, Brow Rangers.
KCH will once again hold their annual Christmas morning run this year.
The run starts from Kilkenny Castle at 11am and incorporates one or two laps around the city via New Road and High Street. Entry is by donation to the bucket collection which will be held at the start line. The run is suitable for all fitness levels.
Runners looking to work off the Christmas turkey will be heading to Rosbercon on St Stephen’s Day for the St Joseph’s Festive 5k Fun run.
The event, which will be held at the Pink Rock, starts at 12 noon.
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