The Kilkenny under-17 team who won gold at the Leinster cross-country championships - Aine Kirwan (Thomastown), Tara Ramsawmy (St Senan's), Hannah O'Keeffe (Thomastown), Sophie Jackman (St Senan's)
Sterling performances from the McEvoy twins were just part of the Kilkenny athletics success story at this year’s Leinster cross-country championships.
Right across all age groups athletes from across the county pushed the boundaries and delivered convincing performances in what could only be described as biblical conditions.
It was a double victory in the boys and girls under-19 races for Kilkenny City Harriers (KCH) with the McEvoy twins, Shay and Annie, winning their respective races.
In the boys’ race there was never any doubt that Shay McEvoy would do anything but win. Right from the gun he looked comfortable in the lead. With each stride he moved further away from the pack.
By the final lap the conditions had deteriorated rapidly with the gaps between the fields turning to sludge and becoming quite dangerous but, for Shay, these did not pose any difficulty as he had the course to himself.
Back in the chasing group clubmates Kevin Burns and James Kearney were in the top 12 and acutely aware of the danger each gap posed. Thankfully they managed to gain individual spots without any mishaps.
Annie McEvoy had a much more difficult race. For much of her race she was in a leading pack of three runners but everything changed when, with 1,000m to go, Danielle Donegan of Tullamore made a move. This was quickly suppressed by the fast paced Lauren Murphy of Co Meath, with Annie covering every move.
With 400m to go Lauren Murphy went to the front and moved slightly ahead. Annie kept her within reach. With 200m to go Annie moved ahead with Lauren unable to respond. This was the first time that the Kilkenny girl had won a Leinster cross-country title.
Like the girls’ under-19 race, the under-17 girls’ event was an exciting race with the lead changing hands as often as the raindrops fell. Kilkenny had four girls in the top 12 with Hannah O’Keeffe (Thomastown) running a magnificent race to finish third.
The underfoot conditions were deplorable, with not only rain having deluged the course, but thunder and lightning adding to the effect.
Hannah was embroiled in a four-way battle for most of the race with Nessa Reilly (Dunleer) managing to pull away from the group with 1,200m to go. This left Hannah to battle out the next position with Roisin O’Reilly of Wexford and Holly Brennan of Cilles (Meath).
In the end it was Holly who was marginally ahead of Hannah – with just a hair’s breadth between them. Aine Kirwan (Thomastown) had a solid race to finish sixth with the St Senan’s duo of Tara Ramsamwy and Sophie Jackman eighth and 10th respectively.
Kilkenny won the county title with Thomastown winning the club section.
The boys’ under-17 race produced a surprise club medal for St Senan’s when they got third club. The county were fourth, which means they also qualify for the nationals.
Hannah Kehoe (Gowran) made light of the mucky conditions as she sailed through the mud in the girls’ under-15 race. She created a distance of 50m between herself and the second-placed athlete to win by a comfortable margin.
Despite a fast first lap Fiona Dillon (Thomastown) dropped her pace a little. She did finish fifth and thus secured national qualification.
It was rather unusual that Kilkenny did not get in the medal position for the county, having medalled nationally with this team on many occasions.
The boys’ under-15 was another cracking race with Tadgh Connolly (St Senan’s) producing another win to match that of his under-16 victory two weeks ago.
With some fantastic front running, Tadgh managed to shake free of the two Wexford athletes to storm convincingly down the home straight.
Coming towards the final run-in Connolly gave a quick glimpse over his shoulder and smiled. He knew he could do it.
With 100m to go he gave one last surge, dug into the muck and ignored the thunder and lightning flying around him.
Twenty-five seconds later he had done it. Connolly had won his second Leinster Championships in a fortnight - he was the under-15 champion.
Back in fourth Tom Lodge (KCH) was having a magnificent race. So too was David Williams of St Senan’s who finished sixth - he is still only under-14.
The county had a surprise but welcome victory over last year’s national champions Wexford while St Senan’s were second in the club category.
Ben Wallis (St Senan’s) was 10th in the boys’ under-13 and will be Kilkenny’s sole representative in this race in the Nationals in December.
If the boys performances were somewhat low-key the girls more than made up for it as four local athletes finished in the top 12.
Sara Kehoe (Gowran), Caoimhe Phelan (St Senan’s) and Charlotte Carpendale (St Senan’s) were locked together for most of the race, with Kehoe leading the trio home in fourth place. Phelan was fifth with Carpendale, who is an under-12 athlete, sixth.
Rachel O’Neill (Gowran) just managed to hold on for the final qualifying spot in 12th place. The county was first, while Gowran produced a great club effort to get second.
Joss O’Connor (St Joseph’s) impressed in the boys’ under-11 race when he produced a very fast finish to cross the line in second place, closing in fast on the first-placed athlete.
Anil Ramsawmy (St Senan’s) was in hard luck not to make the top 12. He took a bad fall and got spiked just after the start, but still managed to get up and finish 22nd. The county finished fourth.
The girls’ under-11 race looked grim for Kilkenny as a number of top athletes didn’t travel. Gowran, however, saved the day when the club team finished fourth and earned national qualification.
By the time the senior women and men took to the starting pens the conditions were so atrocious that poor visibility, along with a mire of muck, created somewhat precarious racing conditions.
Despite this there was glory among the gloom as the county’s women’s team produced a magnificent victory - the first time in many years that our senior women scored a team victory.
They were led home by Lauren Dermody (Castlecomer), who looked a class act out in front. Sally Forristal (St Joseph’s) had a much improved performance to take third place. Michelle McDonald (St Senan’s) was sixth with Sile Carroll seventh.
St Senan’s were third in the club standings - the first time in many years they have won Leinster club medals at senior level.
James Kelly (Castlecomer) led the Kilkenny men home in fifth place. He was followed by Niall Sheehan (Gowran) in sixth. Kilkenny could not field a team in this event - one more athlete would have made the difference.
Athletes in America
There was good news on the American front for two local athletes during the week.
Peter Lynch (KCH), who competes with the University of Tulsa (Oklahoma), led his Tulsa team home to a third place team at the Mid-West regionals.
With snow on the ground and temperatures of -30 degrees Fahrenheit Peter finished in ninth place on the 10km cross-country course. While the teams did not earn an automatic qualifying stop for next week’s NCAA Championships in Madison, Wisconsin there is a strong chance they will get one of the spots still up for grabs.
Meanwhile Aoibhe Richardson (KCH), competing with the University of Portland (Oregon), raced the West Region championships in Sacramento California.
Aoibhe finished 19th in the women’s 6km race, the third member of her Portland team. Her university team was fifth. Aoibhe has now earned a spot at the regional finals in Wisconsin next weekend.
The county 10 mile road championship takes centrestage this weekend.
Sunday’s race will be held in Dungarvan village in conjunction with the Stook 10 mile.
Registration on the day is from 10.30am. All county athletes must register at the County Board desk.
There is also a 5km road race being held in conjunction with the 10 mile event. For more information visit stook10.ie
Kilkenny results, Leinster cross-country championships (club code: BH = Barrow Harriers, CC = Castlecomer, G = Gowran, KCH = Kilkenny City Harriers, SJ = St Joseph’s, SS = St Senan’s, TT = Thomastown:)
Girls’ Under-11: Club - 4 Gowran.
Girls’ Under-13: 4 Sarah Kehoe (G), 5 Caoimhe Phelan (SS), 6 Charlotte Carpendale (SS), 12 Rachel O’Neill (G), 15 Hazel Coogan (G), 17 Maeve Bookle (SJ), 26 Laura Challoner (TT), 28 Orlaith Kirwan (TT), 31 Grace Glennon (SJ), 33 Molly Long (SS).
Club - 2 Gowran.
County - 1 Kilkenny.
Girls’ Under-15: 1 Hannah Kehoe (G), 5 Fiona Dillon (TT).
Girls’ Under-17: 3 Hannah O’Keeffe (TT), 6 Aine Kirwan (TT), 8 Tara Ramaswamy (SS), 10 Sophie Jackman (SS), 16 Ellen Ryan (TT), 37 Orla O’Keeffe (TT), 41 Ellen Fitzgerald (KCH).
Club - 1 Thomastown.
County - 1 Kilkenny.
Girls’ Under-19: 1 Annie McEvoy (KCH), 6 Aoife Allen (SS), 13 Ciara Murphy (KCH), 14 Aine Phelan (SS), 16 Issey Shine (KCH), 23 Nell Murphy (SS).
Club - 2 KCH, 3 St Senan’s.
County - 2 Kilkenny.
Boys’ Under-11: 2 Joss O’Connor (SJ), Conor Carroll (G), 22 Anil Ramaswamy (SS), 35 Robert Lacey (KCH), 36 Tom Kehoe (G), 42 Hugo Tierney (BH), 49 Tomas Carroll (G), 50 David McGee (G), 51 Sam McAviney (G).
County - 4 Kilkenny.
Boys’ under-13: 10 Ben Wallis (SS).
Boys’ Under-15: 1 Tadgh Connolly (SS), 4 Tom Lodge (KCH), 6 David Williams (SS), 13 Billy Coogan (G), 28 Colm Roche (SS), 33 Gearoid Long (SS), 41 Naoise Gilmartin (SS), 42 Billy Power (TT), 43 Cillian Dunne (G), 49 Joe Kearns (KCH).
Club - 2 St Senan’s.
County - 1 Kilkenny.
Boys’ Under-17: 18 Cathal Kearney (KCH), 22 John Muldowney (KCH), 24 Brogan McAviney (G), 25 Cathal O’Reilly (CC), 36 Josh Fenton (SS), 43 Fergal Suffin (SS), 45 Ryan Cummins (SS), 50 Tom Butler (SS), 51 Peter Holohan (CC), 52 David Byrne (G), 53 Diego Rodriguez (G).
Club - 3 St Senan’s.
County - 4 Kilkenny.
Boys’ Under-19: 1 Shay McEvoy (KCH), 7 Kevin Burns (KCH), 10 James Kearney (KCH), 27 Luke Whelan (KCH).
Club - 1 KCH.
County - 2 Kilkenny.