Kilkenny athletics: the Nationals are the focus for everyone now

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Kilkenny athletics: the Nationals are the focus for everyone now

Lauren Dermody (Castlecomer) and Sally Forristal (St Joseph’s) will lead strong Kilkenny competition for national honours in Dublin

With the National cross-country championships being run this weekend, senior and juvenile athletes are winding down their training and increasing their rest time. The national cross country course at Abbotstown is the venue.
A perfect cross-country course consisting of some hills, wooded areas and a balance between the groomed and ungroomed terrain awaits Ireland’s athletes who will tackle the national cross-country championships in Abbotstown this weekend.
If national glory wasn’t enough of a spur, athletes will have the increased incentive to perform well as the races will act as trials for the European cross-country championships. Kilkenny’s senior, junior and under-23 athletes will contest these championships with the hope of getting a place on the Irish team.
In the junior men’s race Shay McEvoy (Kilkenny City Harriers) will be racing hard for a spot on the Irish team. At the Abbotstown Open, which was held last month, Shay finished eighth in the junior event, with not much between himself and the sixth and seventh-placed competitors.
Lauren Dermody (Castlecomer) was unlucky not to be selected for the under-23 event last year when she finished second in the women’s nationals, whereas the men’s under-23 event selected the top two competitors, with Tom O’Keeffe (KCH) benefiting from this policy.
Both Lauren and Tom are running well this year. Lauren staked her claim for honours when she won the Leinster Seniors by a large margin early in November.
Kilkenny could also throw two USA-based athletes into the mix for national selection in the form of Aoibhe Richardson and Peter Lynch. These races could yet become a competition between Kilkenny athletes for under-23 European selection should the duo return from the States for the event.
The county will boast its strongest women’s team for a number of years in the senior events.
Racing in the B division Kilkenny will field a young team led by Lauren Dermody and Sally Forristal (St Joseph’s) along with the St Senan’s quartet.
The possibility of Aoibhe Richardson coming home will, of course, strengthen the team. St Senan’s AC will contest the club title in division B and may have a chance of a medal of some colour.
The men’s county team will also contest the B division. Brian Maher and his KCH team mates will have strong support from Castlecomer’s James Kelly and Gowran’s Niall Sheehan.
In the club section KCH won the B division last year and will therefore battle for honours in the A grade. A trip home by Peter Lynch could change both club and county dynamics completely.
Juveniles
Kilkenny have county teams contesting juvenile events of all ages except the boys’ under-14 race. With plenty of individuals making the Leinster teams and clubs also making qualification, there will be quite a number of Kilkenny athletes competing on Sunday. In the Juveniles the top 12 athletes in each age group reach the podium.
Charlotte Carpendale (St Senan’s) should stand a chance of taking a podium spot. Charlotte finished seventh in last year’s under-11 event and has been showing signs of moving up the ranks for this year’s competition.
The county could stand a chance of medals, if all the girls up their efforts and race their hearts out. These girls are young and will have much to gain from the experience.
In the boys’ under-12 race Isaac Carew (St Senan’s) led the county home in the Leinster championships while Joss O’Connor (St Joseph’s) and Sam Brennan (Gowran) are also on the Leinster team.
The county team members, like the girls’ under-12 side, will gain much experience from this occasion, as will Gowran who have a boys team qualified.
The girls’ under-14 team features a tightly-knit group of girls. A number have contested all their races this year, with nothing between them.
With Maria O’Keeffe (Thomastown) and Caoimhe Phelan (St Senan’s) on the Leinster team, Sara Kehoe (Gowran) and Orlaith Kirwan (Thomastown) should be in their mix.
This county team contains some very hard working girls and can produce the goods when needed. Thomastown has a team in the club section - a great boost for these young girls.
In the boys’ under-14 race David Williams has been running well all season and has a chance of making the podium. Billy Coogan (Gowran) is also on the Leinster team and if he chases down David, things could turn around. St Senan’s will have a club team in action.
The group of girls leading the charge for Kilkenny in the under-16 event have been to the fore at national level for a number of years.
Led by Hannah Kehoe (Gowran), who finished second in this event last year, and Thomastown’s trio of Hannah O’Keeffe, Aine Kirwan and Fiona Dillon the county must be favourites to take the title. These four girls could all make the podium. Thomastown are last year’s club champions and would be favourites for this year’s title.
Tadgh Connolly (St Senan’s) will be chasing a podium spot in the boys’ under-16 race. He will be boosted by the support of his fellow Saints, who make up the club team.
The under-16s races have the added attraction of having an international associated with it. Connolly, Hannah O’Keeffe (who made the team last year), Hannah Kehoe, Aine Kirwan and Fiona Dillon will all be racing for a spot on the Irish team, where only the first four home are selected.
Annie McEvoy should lead the county home in the girls’ under-18 race, but she will be chased hard by St Senan’s trio of Tara Ramasawmy, Aoife Allen and Sophie Jackman.
The county could have a few podium spots in this race and should also be in line to pick up medals along with St Senan’s in the club section.
In the boys’ under-18 race James Kearney (KCH) made the Leinster team. He and his Harrier clubmates will be chasing medals in the club team event.
County 10 mile
The county 10 mile championships were held in conjunction with the Stook 10 mile race in Dungarvan on Sunday.
With a magnificent turn-out in the 10 mile race and two course records broken, this year we had some very exciting competition. A grand total of 420 athletes lined up for the start of the race, with some 200 more fun runners.
Stook is certainly is proving to be worthy of being on any athletes calendar. The event was superbly organised and the post-race feedback was extremely positive.
The overall race was won by Gary O’Hanlon (Clonliffe AC) who broke his own record with a new time of 51.16. He was followed home by David Power (Rathfarnham) in second with Alan O’Connor (United Striders) third.
Lizzie Lee (Leevale AC) finished fourth in the overall race. The first woman home Lee, just like Gary O’Hanlon, smashed the course record in a time of 1.00:37.
In the county 10 mile race Danny Shanahan (Thomastown) emerged victorious with Cormac Buggy (Gowran) second and Graham Bourne (KCH) third. Gowran won the team from Thomastown - their A team finished second and the B team third.
The women’s county 10 mile race was won by Catriona Muldowney (KCH) with clubmate Cathy Millet second and Maria Griffin (St Joseph’s) third. KCH won the team event from Gowran and Kings River.
NCAA
Two Kilkenny athletes raced in the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Wisconsin over the weekend. Aoibhe Richardson was part of the University of Portland team while Peter Lynch ran for Tulsa.
In Ireland athletes have random days of snow to contend with - not since the Nationals in Derry a number of years ago have they been obliged to race championships in the snow - but the mid-west city of Madison, Wisconsin, is no stranger to snow. The athletes just got on with it and raced their hearts out.
Aoibhe finished 57th and helped her team University of Portland Pilots to 12th place. Peter finished 112th and helped Tulsa Track & Field and Cross Country to a top 30 placing.
Aoibhe and Peter along with Lauren Dermody (Castlecomer) and Tom O’Keeffe (now competing with UCD) will now be in the running for selection to the national under-23 team.
As a county Kilkenny is very familiar with the NCAA races, with some great success recorded in the past.
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, when there were no scholarships offered in Ireland for athletics, athletes looked to the USA for the opportunity to go to college and race. In the 1980s and 1990s there were some notable NCAA championship successes from local athletes.
Tina Moloney (St Senan’s) was seventh in the NCAA and won her Eastern Regional on a few occasions while at Providence College (Rhode Island).
Sinead Delahunty and Geraldine Nolan of KCH had the opportunity to compete for Providence at the NCAA too. The Duggan brothers (St Joseph’s) raced for Arkansas while Dessie O’Connor (Marble City Striders) ended up in Louisiana.
RESULTS
Results, county 10 mile championships (club code: G = Gowran, GB = Graigue-Ballycallan, KCH = Kilkenny City Harriers, KR = Kings River, SJ = St Joseph’s, TT = Thomastown):
Women: 1 Catriona Muldowney (KCH), 2 Cathy Millet (KCH), 3 Maria Griffin (SJ), 4 Mary Steed (KR), 5 Lisa Brennan (KCH), 6 Kathryn Brennan (G), 7 Kate Millea (KCH), 8 Catriona Corr (G), 9 Moira Cody (GB), 10 Mags Kirwan (KR). Teams: 1 Kilkenny City Harriers, 2 Gowran, 3 Kings River.
Men: 1 Pat Shanahan (TT), 2 Cormac Buggy (G), 3 Graham Bourne (KCH), 4 Paddy O’Keeffe (G), 5 Derek Kehoe (G), 6 Denis O’Sullivan (TT), 7 John Comerford (G), 8 Philip Fennelly (KR), 9 Gerry Walsh (TT), 10 Niall Shanahan (TT). Teams: 1 Gowran, 2 Thomastown A, 3 Thomastown B.
TEAMS
County juvenile teams for the national cross-country (club code: CC = Castlecomer, G = Gowran, KCH = Kilkenny City Harriers, SJ = St Joseph’s, SS = St Senan’s):
Girls’ Under-12: Charlotte Carpendale (SS), Hazel Coogan (G), Alexandra Brennan (G), Eabha Mullally (SJ), Roisin Burns (KCH), Aine O’Callaghan (SS), Lily Ryan (SJ), Orla Brennan (G), Caoimhe Power (TT) Moya O’Keeffe (SS).
Boys’ Under-12: Isaac Carew (SS), Joss O’Connor (SJ), Sam Brennan (G), Ruairi Murphy (G), Tom Kehoe (G), Anil Ramsamwy (SS), Michael O’Shea (SS), James Commins (SJ), Luke Browne (SJ), Jamie Calahan (CC).
Girls’ Under-14: Maria O’Keeffe (TT), Caoimhe Phelan (SS), Orlaith Kirwan (TT), Sarah Kehoe (G), Molly Long (SS), Laura Challoner (TT), Molly O’Dornan (CC), Maeve Bookle (SJ), Grace Glennon (SJ), Rachel O’Neill (G).
Girl’ Under-16: Hannah Kehoe (G), Aine Kirwan (TT), Hannah O’Keeffe (TT), Fiona Dillon (TT), Saoirse Allen (SS), Pia O’Grady (G), Katie Bookle (SJ), Cara Donovan (TT).
Boy’ Under-16: Tadgh Connolly (SS), Brogan McAvinney (G), Cathal O’Reilly (CC), Josh Fenton (SS), Colm Roche (SS), Joe Kerins (KCH), Billy Power (TT), Cillian Dunne (G), Ryan Cummins (SS), David Byrne (G).
Girls’ Under-18: Annie McEvoy (KCH), Tara Ramsawmy (SS), Sophie Jackman (SS), Aoife Allen (SS), Aine Phelan (SS), Ellen Ryan (TT), Issy Shine (KCH), Orla O’Keeffe (TT), Nell Murphy (SS).
Boys’ Under-18: James Kearney (KCH), Kevin Burns (KCH), Luke Whelan (KCH), John Muldowney (KCH), Cathal Kearney (KCH).
Junior Women: Annie McEvoy (KCH), Tara Ramsawmy (SS), Sophie Jackman (SS), Aoife Allen (SS), Aine Phelan (SS), Ellen Ryan (TT), Helen Hoynes (SJ), Issy Shine (KCH), Orla O’Keeffe (TT), Nell Murphy (SS).
Junior Men: James Kearny (KCH), Kevin Burns (KCH), Luke Whelan (KCH), John Muldowney (KCH), Cathal Kearney (KCH).

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