Willie Cox, Castlecomer AC (right) leads the way on the road to victory in the boys under-15 race
Conditions were tough, but Kilkenny athletes proved they were made of stern stuff when landing Leinster glory in Adamstown.
The cross-country championships were a true test of character but the county’s runners glided over muddy troughs to dominate the podium.
Eve Dunphy (St Senan’s) led the way, waltzing over a muddy course to win the girls’ under-11 race. Her clubmate Charlotte Carpendale ran well and finished third.
Together with Alexandra Brennan (ninth), Hazel Coogan (13th), Aine O’Callaghan (St Senan’s, 18th) and Rosin Burns (Kilkenny City Harriers - KCH, 22nd) Kilkenny raced to county gold. St Senan’s finished third in the club section.
The boys’ under-11 team finished fourth but have qualified for the All-Irelands on December 17. There were great individual runs from Ruairi Murphy (Gowran) in 10th place, Joss O’Connor (St Joseph’s) in 12th and Isaac Carew (St Senan’s) in 16th.
A good day continued when Sarah Kehoe (Gowran) ran to a strong second place finish in the girls’ under-13 race. Showing true courage she took advantage of her light frame and ate up ground on the muddy patches.
Maria O’Keeffe (Thomastown) was 11th while clubmate Orlaith Kirwan finished 13th, a great run from a plucky youngster. Kilkenny finished second in the county section with St Senan’s third club.
The county’s boys’ under-13 athletes were led home by Billy Coogan (Gowran) who finished in the top 12 for the first time ever. An athlete who has really improved this year, Billy and athletes from St Senan’s, Thomastown and KCH will represent the county at All-Ireland level.
While the weather got colder the performances were only starting to warm up. Hannah Kehoe (Gowran) showed as much with a gutsy performance in the girls’ under-15 race.
Coming to the 1,000m mark, Hannah and Ava O’Connor (Tullamore) pulled away from the rest of the field. These two athletes went stride for stride for most of the remaining distance. With 500m to go Hannah made a surge, Ava responded, it was not until the final 40m that Ava proved victory was hers, with Hannah second by a whisker.
Hannah O’Keeffe worked her way through the leading bunch to take third place. Fiona Dillon was seventh while her Thomastown club-mate Aine Kirwan, just back from injury, finished 14th - a remarkable achievement considering she was still on crutches a fortnight ago.
The boys’ under-15 athletes redeemed some of their youthful promise when the team finished second, improving on previous years positions.
Will Fox (Castlecomer) was magnificent as he held the lead for all this race. Staying with some of the podium finishing athletes for much of the race, it was only going to be a matter of time before he made his move.
With 800m to go, he lengthened his stride, somehow avoided the mud and left Joe Byrne of Wexford in his wake.
Tadgh Connolly (St Senan’s) had a good run also, finishing 11th, while Gowran’s Brogan McAvinney was 16th.
The girls’ under-17 county team took the gold medal as expected. Annie McEvoy (KCH) held third spot for most of the race, being beaten into fourth right on the line.
She was followed closely by the fast-finishing Tara Ramasawmy (St Senan’s) who ran a great race despite carrying an injury. Aoife Allen (St Senan’s) seems to have turned the corner in form-terms and showed class to finish seventh. St Senan’s finished third in the club section and Thomastown fourth.
Shay McEvoy (KCH) started as the favourite in the boys’ under-17 race and finished matching this expectation.
Shay looked calm, composed and very steady throughout this race, leading from the start to finish. His KCH clubmates packed very well with James Kearney in fifth place and Kevin Burns eighth. The Harriers finished first in the club section while Kilkenny were second in the county standings.
In the girls’ under-19 race Ella Richardson (KCH) cautiously examined her footing and navigated her way through the mucky course to finish third.
She stayed in touch with the leaders from the start. It looks like there will be more to come from her in the weeks ahead. It was good to see Ruth Kennedy (Gowran) back in the individual placings again. Having started out her juvenile career at under-11 in the top 12 she ended it with a 12th place finish. The county were second while KCH were third in the club standings.
Adam Fitzpatrick finished second in the boys’ under-19 race, despite being a year out of age. This was the only age group where Kilkenny did not field a county team.
The fantastic results saw Kilkenny extend their lead in the county race for the Leinster cup and claim overall victory.
Perhaps it is a sign of good things to come but for the first time in many years Kilkenny fielded a county senior ladies team, which finished third into the bargain.
Adele Walsh had a great race finishing in sixth place. It was a good build-up coming a week ahead of her appearance at the Masters Home Countries International in Derry. St Senan’s were fourth club.
In the men’s race Thos Hayes (KCH) was content to stay behind the leaders for the first 1,500m.
As he rounded the bend, embarking on his second lap he moved to the top of the group and remained there for the remainder of the race. With 600m to go he pushed ahead right to the finish line.
Niall Sheehan (Gowran) ran a blinder to finish in third place, with James Kelly (Castlecomer) coming home in 13th place. Kilkenny were second county.
While Kilkenny’s resident athletes were tackling the Wexford soil on Sunday, others were enjoying better conditions in the US. Some of the county’s former county juveniles are now attending colleges in America and were in good form when competing in the conference events.
Aoibhe Richardson (KCH), competing in the Portland University vest, finished 55th in the Western Conference and third on the Portland team that was sixth overall.
Meanwhile in Oklahoma, Peter Lynch (KCH) was on the University of Oklahoma team that finished second. As this is a small conference, only the winning team qualifies for the Nationals.
Kilkenny results, Leinster Cross-country championships (club code: CC = Castlecomer, G = Gowran, KCH = Kilkenny City Harriers, SJ = St Joseph’s, SS = St Senan’s, TT = Thomastown):
Girls’ U-11: 1 Eve Dunphy (SS), 4 Charlotte Carpendale (SS), 9 Alexandra Brennan (G), 13 Hazel Coogan (G), 18 Aine O’Callaghan (SS), 21 Roisin Burns (KCH), 37 Eabha Mullally (SJ), 51 Orla Brennan (G), 60 Hannah Quinn (KCH), 61 Eimear Brennan (Gowran). County: 1 Kilkenny. Club: 3 St Senan’s.
Boys’ U-11: 10 Ruairi Murphy (G), 12 Joss O’Connor (SJ), 16 Isaac Carew (SS), 23 Anil Ramasawmy (SS), 37 Tom Kehoe (G), 39 Aaron Doyle (G), 40 Patrick Lacey (KCH), 44 Louis Raggett (KCH), 49 Michael O’Shea (SS), 53 James Cummins (SJ), County: 4 Kilkenny.
Girls’ U-13: 2 Sarah Kehoe (G), 11 Maria O’Keeffe (TT), 13 Orlaith Kirwan (TT), 15 Grace Glennon (SJ), 20 Molly O’Dornan (CC), 26 Caoimhe Phelan (SS), 31 Molly Long (SS), 35 Sophie Williams (SS), 41 Meave Bookle (SJ), 45 Rachel O’Neill (G). County: 2 Kilkenny. Club: 3 St Senan’s.
Boys’ U-13: 8 Billy Coogan (G), 28 Naoise Gilmartin (SS), 31 Brian Moore (KCH), 39 Harry Boyle (KCH), 40 David Williams (SS), 45 Darragh Coverdale (TT), 51 Ben Wallis (SS), 52 Oisin Marry (KCH), 59 Ruairi McEvoy (KCH), 62 Gearoid Long (SS). County: 4 Kilkenny.
Girls’ U-15: 2 Hannah Kehoe (G), 3 Hannah O’Keeffe (TT), 7 Fiona Dillon (TT), 14 Aine Kirwan (TT), 23 Danielle Griffin (SJ), 33 Emma Minogue (TT), 38 Saoirse Allen (SS), 45 Clodagh Monahan (SS), 68 Emma Farrell (G), 73 Rebecca Lennon (G). County: 1 Kilkenny. Club: 2 Thomastown.
Boys’ U-15: 1 Will Fox (CC), 11 Tadgh Connolly (SS), 16 Brogan McAvinney (G), 26 Liam Lacey (SS), 29 Cathal O’Reilly (CC), 36 Josh Fenton (SS), 45 Billy Power (TT), 47 Robert Finn (SS), 48 Jamie O’Connor (SJ), 62 Cillian Dunne (G). County: 2 Kilkenny.
Girls’ U-17: 4 Annie McEvoy (KCH), 5 Tara Ramasawmy (SS), 7 Aoife Allen (SS), 20 Ciara O’Keeffe (TT), 21 Ellen Ryan (TT), 28 Sinead O’Keeffe (TT), 32 Orla O’Keeffe (TT), 37 Aine Phelan (SS), 44 Nell Murphy (SS). County: 1 Kilkenny. Club: 3 St Senan’s, 4 Thomastown.
Boys’ U-17: 1 Shay McEvoy (KCH), 5 James Kearney (KCH), 8 Kevin Burns (KCH), 17 Cathal Kearney (KCH), 29 Conor Clarke (CC), 34 Luke Whelan (KCH), 38 John Muldowney (KCH). County: 2 Kilkenny. Club: 1 KCH.
Girls’ U-19: 3 Ella Richardson (KCH), 12 Ruth Kennedy (G), 19 Ciara Murphy (KCH), 20 Annie O’Connor (KCH), 27 Caoimhe Connolly (SS). County: 2 Kilkenny. Club: 3 KCH.
Boys’ U-19: 2 Adam Fitzpatrick (KCH), 17 Colm Murphy (KCH).
Senior Ladies: 6 Adele Walsh (SS), 13 Sile Carroll (Liffey Valley), 19 Michelle McDonald (SS), 22 Aine Kinsella (SS), 26 Barbara Rossiter (KCH), 36 Rachael Butler (SS). County: 3 Kilkenny. Club: 4 St Senan’s.
Senior Men: 1 Thomas Hayes (KCH), 3 Niall Sheehan (G), 13 James Kelly (CC), 17 David McPherson (TT), 41 Conor Bolger (KCH), 44 Sean Caulfield (SS), 45 Paul Moran (KCH), 46 Danny Shanahan (TT), 59 Denis O’Sullivan (TT), 67 Derek Kehoe (G), 81 Eoin Molloy (KCH), 82 John Davis (TT). County: 2 Kilkenny.