THE Kilkenny City Harriers (KCH) men’s team put in a great team performance at the National League finals to win promotion to next season’s Premier Division.
With some athletes unavailable for the meet in Tullamore on Sunday team manager John Maye was forced to make a number of changes. Despite this, the plan worked to great success.
Having qualified fifth from earlier rounds, the Harriers travelled to Sunday’s final hoping to improve and move into contention for the bronze medals.
It was nip and tuck all day with four teams - KCH, Carlow’s St Laurence O’Toole, Dublin’s Donore Harriers and Sligo – very much in contention for the honours. In the end it finished with St Laurence O’Toole (SLOT) first with 104 points, KCH second with 98 points and Donore Harriers in the bronze medal spot on 95 points.
The Harriers were led to the silver medals by a strong showing from Eoin Everard. Eoin, who won The Barefoot Mile in Leopardstown on Thursday, contributed 18 points to the Harriers cause with victories in the 800m and 1500m events.
Everard won the 800 in 1.58.59, finishing ahead of Danny Lawlor (SLOT). In the 1,500m he had a right battle with Sligo’s Alberto Sanchez who set an early pace. Everard stayed with him and took to the front on the finishing straight to win in 3.48.92.
But if Everard was the top individual he wasn’t the only star. A much-improved Nicholas Dunphy finished the walk in fifth place, setting a new Personal Best (PB) with his time of 17.12.09. Hurdle specialist Eoin Power also made a major controbution.
Guesting from St Joseph’s, Power was second in the 110m hurdles, third in the 400m hurdles and ran the second leg of both relays. His club mate Jack Saunders was even more impressive, finishing first in the 400m, third in the 200m and taking the first leg in both relays.
Brian Maher won the 5,000m in fine style, coming home first in a race which included the men from the Premier Division. Brian led out the field on the first lap with Emet Dunleavy (Sligo) giving chase.
As the race settled down Gary Thornton (Galway City Harriers) took the lead with Mark Hanrahan (Leevale) both just ahead of Maher. With about 800m to go Maher opened up a significant lead, finishing in front in 14.34.65.
While most of the points were garnered on the track the results from the field events athletes proved just as valuable.
Dean Brennan posted eight points with fifth place finishes in both the javelin and 56lbs for distance. Cormac Everard, as well as running third leg of the 4x100m relay, contributed eight points when he placed fifth in both the long jump and triple jump. His triple jump clearance of 12.06m was a PB.
There was also a massive contribution from multi-eventer Michael Bowler, who was the most active team member on the day. His individual contribution was 17 points, a total garnered from competing in the high jump, pole vault and 100m. He also anchored both relay teams, helping the 4x100m team into third place and the 4x400m quartet finish second.
It was a great day and a great result for the men’s team, who will now join the women’s team in next year’s Premier Division.