The phrase ‘we came, we ran, we conquered’ could sum up Kilkenny’s athletic conquests as the county dominated the Leinster even age juvenile championships in Navan.
From Kilmacow to Castlecomer, the local athletes made an indelible impression on the Leinster teams. Kilkenny are now in the lead for the overall Leinster Cross-Country Cup, a title won by the county for the last two years.
Orlaith Kirwan (Thomastown AC) got the ball rolling when she led the girls’ under-12 team home to county victory. Four more athletes claimed individual placings in the All-Irelands - Sarah Kehoe (Gowran), Eve Dunphy (St Senan’s), Caoimhe Phelan (St Senan’s) and Charlotte Carpendale (St Senan’s).
Grace Glennon of St Joseph’s joined the team’s gold medal performance while St Senan’s took silver in the club competition. More than 220 athletes competed in this race, highlighting the significance of these girls’ achievements.
The boys’ under-12s unfortunately did not medal in the individual or county section but St Senan’s claimed club bronze.
The winning continued into the girls’ under-14 event. From the gun, Hannah Kehoe looked both comfortable and nothing short of sheer brilliant. She led from start to finish, making her one to place a firm bet on for the up and coming All-Irelands in Abbottstown.
In claiming victory she beat last year’s All Ireland champion and fellow county athlete Fiona Dillon (Thomastown AC). These two girls embellished what cross-country running is all about by cheering on Elenore Godden (Kilkenny City Harriers - KCH) to her fantastic fourth place finish.
The trio were joined by Maria O’Keeffe (Thomastown, 17th), Danielle Griffin (St Joseph’s, 20th) and Emma Minogue (Thomastown, 32nd) in taking gold in the county section.
Anyone who thinks throwers cannot run cross-country should have watched as the boys’ under-14 race disproved that theory.
Shot-put national medal winner Tadgh Connolly (St Senan’s) shocked plenty of athletic followers when he bolted from the chutes to storm through the first 1km of the boys’ under-14 race, well ahead of the chasing posse.
With their hands to their brows shielding themselves from the strong Autumn sun, the crowd were treated to a complete upturn of results. Tadgh eventually finished a strong sixth and was the first county athlete home, ahead of Tom Lodge (KCH) in 12th place.
Bill Coogan and Donagh Murphy of Gowran and St Senan’s duo of David Williams and Ethan Butler, grouped well together to get second for the county, finishing marginally behind last year’s national champions Wexford.
To quote Liam Keely, the eminent Gowran veteran, and godfather of modern athletics in Ireland “Jaysus the boys will have them in the All-Irelands!”. St Senan’s were second in the club section.
There was an exciting finish to the girls’ under-16 race when Tara Ramasawmy (St Senan’s) clinched her first ever top three finish in the Leinster cross country championships. Sitting on the back end of the leading group of eight, she pushed for home about 1km from the end of this 4km race.
It was a closely fought contest with the top three breaking away from the other five.
Finishing third, Tara also led the county to third spot - a remarkable achievement considering the team was without last year’s winner Aine Kirwan.
Hannah O’Keeffe (Thomastown) ran a great race to finish 11th, helping her club finish third.
Will Fox (Castlecomer) showed he has what it takes to be a true cross-country runner. Running one year out of this age, last year’s under-14 champion kept right up with the leaders for the entire race.
With the top two breaking away in the last 700m, Will pushed to the last and was beaten into fourth place by the narrowest of margins. The county finished third, with back up from both KCH and Gowran.
In the under-18 girls event Annie McEvoy and Ella Richardson raced together from start to finish, pendulating a rhythm practised in their training sessions. All the time Aoife Allen (St Senan’s) had them in her sight. The athletes finished third, fourth and eighth respectively, delivering another county gold. KCH finished second in the club section.
Anything the girls could do, so too could the boys. The KCH duo Adam Fitzpatrick and Shay McEvoy were strong and focused throughout the entire race.
Their strides matched, their arm action followed the same motion. Their faces showed no signs of stress or tension.
Kevin Burns was on the shoulders of these two young men all the way. Striding down the hill to the narrow corner on the last lap Adam Fitzpatrick had a narrow lead, an advantage he held until the finish line.
Shay McEvoy was a close second and Kevin Burnes fourth, with fellow KCH athletes James Kearney seventh and Colm Murphy 11th. KCH took the club victory while Castlecomer’s Nicky Connolly teamed up to help claim county gold.
Rounding off a victorious day, the Novice Ladies won the county section. Lauren Dermody took to the front of the leading group of five for most of the race, being beaten into second place in the run for home.
Lauren is coming back to full fitness again and we should be seeing more of this 19-year-old Castlecomer girl in the years to come. Sally Forristal (St Joseph’s) was fifth, the same position as she finished last year. The St Senan’s pair of Michelle McDonald and Bronagh Kearns finished eighth and 11th respectively.
The novice men’s event did not produce medals but delivered some good runs by county representatives.
Kilkenny results, Leinster even age juvenile championships (club code: CC = Castlecomer, G = Gowran, KCH = Kilkenny City Harriers, SS = St Senan’s, SJ = St Joseph’s, TT = Thomastown):
Girls’ U-12: 4 Orlaith Kirwan (TT), 8 Sara Kehoe (G), 10 Eve Dunphy (SS), 11 Caoimhe Phelan (SS), 12 Charlotte Carpendale (SS), 15 Grace Glennon (SJ). County - 1 Kilkenny. Club - 2 St Senan’s (Eve Dunphy, Caoimhe Phelan, Charlotte Carpendale, Molly Long).
Boys’ U-12: Club - 3 St Senan’s.
Girls’ U-14: 1 Hannah Kehoe (G), 2 Fiona Dillon (TT), 4 Elenore Godden (KCH), 17 Maria O’Keeffe (TT), 20 Danielle Griffin (SJ), 32 Emma Manogue (TT). County - 1 Kilkenny.
Boys’ U-14: 6 Tadgh Connolly (SS), 12 Tom Lodge (KCH), 14 Billy Coogan (G), 17 Donagh Murphy (G), 21 David Williams (SS), 22 Ethan Butler (SS). County - 2 Kilkenny. Club - 2 St Senan’s.
Girls’ U-16: 3 Tara Ramasawmy (SS), 11 Hannah O’Keeffe (TT), 17 Ciara O’Keeffe (TT), 19 Sophie Jackman (SS), 33 Ellen Ryan (TT), 39 Orla O’Keeffe (TT). County - 3 Kilkenny. Club - 3 Thomastown.
Boys’ U-16: 4 Will Fox (CC), 18 Cathal Kearney (KCH), 19 Rory O’Connor (KCH), 27 Gavan Manning (G), 32 Brogan McAviney (G), 34 John Muldowney (KCH). County - 3 Kilkenny.
Girls’ U-18: 3 Annie McEvoy (KCH), 4 Ella Richardson, 8 Aoife Allen (SS). County - 1 Kilkenny. Club - 2 KCH.
Boys’ U-18: 1 Adam Fitzpatrick (KCH), 2 Shay McEvoy (KCH), 4 Kevin Burns (KCH), 7 James Kearney (KCH), 11 Colm Murphy (KCH), 27 Nicky Connolly (CC). County - 1 Kilkenny. Club - 1 KCH.
Novice Ladies: 2 Lauren Dermody (CC), 5 Sally Forristal (SJ), 8 Michelle McDonald (SS), 11 Bronagh Kearns (SS). County - 1 Kilkenny.
Ladies: 1 Anita Byrne (KCH), 2 Anne Watkins (SJ) 3 Rita McGarvey (KCH). Clubs - 1 KCH, 2 St Joseph’s, 3 Graigue-Ballycallan.
Men: 1 Trust Mitsini (KCH), 2 Pat Purcell (KCH), 3 Danny Shanahan (TT). Clubs - 1 KCH, 2 Thomastown, 3 St Joseph’s.
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