With a slight change to the usual course layout, athletes were taken on a scenic route by the river, which was greeted with great satisfaction.
Now in its 41st year the event drew athletes from Galway, Cork, Kilkenny, Carlow, Wexford, Tipperary and several other counties, all keen to test their pre-season build up and position themselves ahead of next Sunday’s county championships.
This event marks the start of the competitive calendar, with most counties having their county championships the next two Sundays, followed by the provincials at the end of the month.
St Senan’s won the cup for the best overall club.
A stampede of runners competed in the boys and girls races at under-8, 9 and 10 levels. These races are important for youngsters to get to grips with competitive athletics, before reaching the championship eligibility age of 11.
Mia Brennan (Thomastown) was a very convincing winner of the girls’ under-8 race. Katy Byrne (Barrow Harriers) was second, giving an indication that she is one to watch.
The girls’ under-9 race was won by Ellen Daly (Kilkenny City Harriers - KCH). The pedigree coming from the Norwood family on her mother’s side, she has both finesse and talent in abundance.
DMP of Wexford look like they have team potential for the future as they impressed at under-10 level.
Lea Bolger (Bree) showed her speed when she outkicked Ruby Gallaher (St Laurence O’Toole, Carlow) on the home straight. Grace Gilmartin (St Senan’s) ran a great race to finish in third place.
The boys’ under-8 race was won by T.J. Murphy of United Striders, but there were plenty red Gowran jerseys following him all the way.
Red eventually gave way to gold when Robert Coogan won the boys’ under-9 race from the fast-finishing Shane Laffan (Bree).
The boys’ under-10 event turned out to be a super race with a battle up front between Jayden Kenny (Bree) and Jay O’Gorman (Carrick-on-Suir), with the former taking first place.
Talent runs in Gowran’s Kehoe family as they landed a double gold on Sunday. Sarah led the way, sprinting to victory in the girls’ under-14 race. Later that afternoon her older sister Hannah had a very convincing win in the girls’ under-16 event.
The under-14 race was a three-way battle for the entire race between Sarah Kehoe, Orlaith Kirwan (Thomastown) and Caoimhe Phelan (St Senan’s). With the lead changing as quickly as the Irish weather it wasn’t until the final few metres that the overall placings were decided. In what was one of the best and closest races of the day Gowran packed well to take the team title with St Senan’s A and B second and third.
In the under-16 race was Hannah was a clear leader all the way and never looked in danger of being beaten.
Having already made her Irish international debut earlier this year, the season looks set to be very positive for Hannah again this year. Hannah led her Gowran team-mates home to a team victory.
The girls’ under-12 race was won by Sarah Phelan of Enniscorthy with DMP of Wexford having a great and clear team victory.
DMP were again to the fore for the boys races when Kevin O’Mahony won the boys’ under-12 convincingly. St Senan’s were clear winners of the team event and were led home by Isaac Carew in third place.
Myles Hewlett was always going to be the favourite for the under-14 title. The All-Ireland 1,500m winner ran like a true champion, and was never in danger of being caught by David Williams (St Senan’s).
Billy Coogan (Gowran) did well to hold off the challenge of Myles’s twin brother Cosmo to finish third. Last year’s National Cross Country champions United Striders won the team event from St Senan’s. Clonmel AC battled hard to finish just ahead of Galway AC.
The under-16 boys’ race earned their podium positions as the first three athletes challenged each other for most of the race. In the end it was Aaron Shoten from St Laurence O’Tooles who secured victory.
With Aoife Allen of St Senan’s taking her first ever St Senan’s AC Open title in the girls’ under-18, Ryan Kielty of United Striders was not to be done when he did the same in the boys’ under-18 event.
Kilkenny’s Tom O’Keeffe, last year’s European under-23 Irish representative, was keen for a good run to kick start his 2018/2019 cross-country season - Kilmacow was the perfect venue.
Running with both style and conviction he stormed to victory in the senior men’s race, taking the title from Niall Sheehan (Gowran AC).
Taking the new scenic course produced lots of tough hills and was a good pre-season test of fitness for the men including Tom, who is still eligible for the European under-23s this year.
Kings Valley AC took the winning team prize. The men’s veterans race was won by John McGrath (United Striders) from fellow county man Myles Gibbon (SBR).
St Senan’s dominated the women’s event with Adele Walsh leading the team home in first place. Behind her Bronagh Kearns used her speed to outkick club mate Michelle McDonald. Jennifer Goggin Walsh (Carriag na Bhfear) got the better of Aine Kinsella (St Senan’s) to finish fourth and claim the top veterans prize.
Fr Nicholas Flavin
The Kilkenny athletics scene was in mourning following the sudden death of Fr Nicholas Flavin, parish priest of Dunnamaggin and a native of Kilmacow.
Fr Nicholas was, for many years, an athletics enthusiast. He started his running career in his twenties with St Senan’s back in 1977 when the club was formed. Having won many county titles he led the St Senan’s team to their first county victory and overall best senior club accolade in the 1980s.
A repetitive knee injury eventually forced him to retire from competitive runner, at which time he turned to athletics administration. He was, for a decade, secretary of Kilkenny Athletics while also the chairman of Leinster Athletics. He reached the upper echelons of athletics when he was elected vice-chairman of Athletics Ireland.
Fr Nicholas was also principal of St Kieran’s College for many years before becoming parish priest to Dunnamaggin.
The cross-country season starts on Sunday with the first of the county championships taking over Ballycurran Cross Listerlin. Races will be for athletes at under-8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 levels as well as over-40s men and women.
County teams for the forthcoming Leinster cross-country championships will be selected from these races, giving athletes a great opportunity to represent their county.
Clubs are asked to remind their athletes to wear club singlets on the day. Races start at 11am.
Results, St Senan’s AC Open (club code: B = Bree, BH = Barrow Harriers, C = Crookstown, CB = Carraig na Bhfear, CC = Castlecomer, Clon = Clonmel, CS = Carrick-on-Suir, DMP = DMP, E = Enniscorthy, G = Gowran, KCH = Kilkenny City Harriers, KV = Kings Valley, SBR = Sliabh Bhui Rovers, SJ = St Joseph’s, SLOT = St Laurence O’Tooles, SS = St Senan’s, T = Taghmon, TT = Thomastown, US = United Striders):
Girls’ Under-8: 1 Mia Brennan (TT), 2 Katy Byrne (BH), 3 Holly Murphy (SJ), 5 Emma Nichol (BH), 6 Saoirse Doyle (SJ), 7 Lucy Maher (KCH), 8 Amy Whyte (SS), 9 Elle Fardy (SS), 10 Katie Ryan (SS).
Girls’ Under-9: 1 Ellen Daly (KCH), 2 Judy Sinnott (DMP), 3 Saoirse Brannigan (DMP), 4 Olivia Mullally (SJ), 5 Katie Butler (T), 6 Niamh Brennan (G), 7 Tuilelaith Mills (C), 8 Ingrid Tierney (BH), 9 Zoe Beck (TT), 10 Katie Duignan (C).
Girls’ Under-10: Lea Bolger (B), 2 Ruby Gallagher (SLOT), 3 Grace Gilmartin (SS), 4 Kate Maher (KCH), 5 Kate Hayden (G), 6 Moya O’Shea (TT), 7 Kate O’Shea (TT), 8 Martha Bergin (KCH), 9 Julianne Dunphy (SS), 10 Mary-Kate Bryan (TT).
Girls’ Under-12: 1 Sarah Phelan (E), 2 Hazel Coogan (G), 3 Ava Mullally (SJ), Teams: 1 DMP, 2 St Senan’s, 3 St Joseph’s.
Girls’ Under-14: 1 Sara Kehoe (SS), 2 Orlaith Kirwan (TT), 3 Caoimhe Phelan (SS). Teams: 1 Gowran, 2 St Senan’s A, 3 St Senan’s B.
Girls’ Under-16: 1 Hannah Kehoe (G), 2 Claragh Keane (DMP), 3 Saoirse Allen (SS). Teams: 1 St Joseph’s.
Girls’ Under-18: 1 Aoife Allen (SS), 2 Sophie Jackman (SS), 3 Ellen Ryan (TT).
Senior Ladies: 1 Adele Walsh (SS), 2 Bronagh Kearns (SS), 3 Michelle McDonald (SS). Teams: 1 St Senan’s.
Masters: 1 Jennifer Goggin Walsh (CB), 2 Ann Sullivan (DMP), 3 Mary Steed (KV).
Boys’ Under-8: 1 T.J. Murphy (US), 2 Jack Gamble (CC), 3 M.J. Carroll (G), 4 Adam Malone (G), 5 Sean Power (DMP), 6 Elliot McCarthy (SLOT), 7 Luca Kinsella (SJ), 8 Connall Delaney (US), 9 Dylan Murphy (SJ), 10 Richie Mullally (SJ).
Boys’ Under-9: 1 Robert Coogan (G), 2 Shane Laffan (B), 3 Evan Ryan (G), 4 Darragh Carroll (G), 5 Zak Fenton (SS), 6 Ryan Farrell (KCH), 7 David Timmins (G), 8 Joe Doyle (SS), 9 Sean Laffan (BH), 10 M.J. Walsh (CB).
Boys’ Under-10: 1 Jayden Kenny (B), 2 Jay O’Gorman (CS), 3 Thomas Carroll (G), 4 David Phelan (SS), 5 Enda Byrne (SBR), 6 Conor Carroll (G), 7 Cormac Delaney (US), 8 Oran Prendergast (G), 9 Kyle Bolger (SJ), 10 Sam McAvinney (G).
Boys’ Under-12: 1 Kevin O’Mahony (DMP), 2 Joss O’Connor (SJ), 3 Isaac Carew (SS). Teams: 1 St Senan’s.
Boys’ Under-14: 1 Myles Hewlett (US), 2 David Williams (SS), 3 Billy Coogan (G). Teams: 1 United Striders, 2 St Senan’s, 3 Clonmel.
Boys’ Under-16: 1 Aaron Shottan (SLOT), 2 Tadgh Connolly (SS), 3 Ben Wall (unattached). Teams: 1 St Senan’s.
Boys’ Under-18: 1 Ryan Kielty (US).
Senior Men: 1 Tom O’Keeffe (Unattached), 2 Niall Sheehan (G), 3 Brendan Lyng (US). Team: Kings Valley AC
Masters: 1 John McGrath (US), 2 Myles Gibbon (SBR), 3 Patrick Roche (CS).
For more on Kilkenny People sport read here.