Sarah Kehoe (Gowran AC) racing in the girls under-14 2,000m Picture: Sportsfile
Abbotstown was the port of call for an army of athletes as the venue staged the national juvenile and senior cross-country championships at the weekend.
A permanent course, one of the several features of the National Sports Centre, it will host the 2020 European cross-country championships. The venue is ideal for such an occasion, as the track features a mixture of terrains and a 1k, 1.5k and 2k loop.
Kilkenny athletes were among the many winners in Dublin, with 10 individual medals coming to the county - St Senan’s had five, Kilkenny City Harriers (KCH) two, Thomastown two and Gowran one.
Leading the way for Kilkenny was Shay McEvoy (KCH), who stormed home to take the boys’ under-18 title. The under-18 race was run in conjunction with the junior race, in which Shay finished seventh - he was marginally off the team for European cross-country selection.
In this three-lap race Shay was up with the junior leaders for the first 1km, dropping back to a group of three athletes at this point. He was still clear of Conan McCleen (St Malachy’s), the second-placed under-18 athlete.
Entering the last lap Shay tried hard to gain control of sixth place in the junior race, but it wasn’t to be. The positive thing is that he will be eligible for the juniors again for the next two years, so will have lots of opportunities to have a go at making the team in the future. His Harriers team-mates were fourth in the under-18 club rankings.
A great performance saw the St Senan’s under-18 girls relive their past glory in the under-18 race.
Back in 2014 these girls were third club in the national under-14 race and seemed poised to become a success. However a series of injuries meant the girls didn’t build on the promise they had shown at national level - until now.
Tara Ramsawmy, Sophie Jackman and Aoife Allen all ran together, pushing each other on with both encouragement and pace with Annie McEvoy (KCH) close by.
With 500 metres to go the race was on. Tara, Sophie and Annie ploughed ahead with Aoife not far behind. It was McEvoy who led the Kilkenny team home in seventh place. Tara Ramsawmy was eighth with clubmate Sophie Jackman ninth. With Aoife Allen coming home in 15th Kilkenny were guaranteed a county victory.
It was a bittersweet day for St Senan’s, as a clash with a camogie county final cost them two of their athletes and a real shot at winning the club section. Despite this the Senan’s trio who competed were on the Leinster team that finished first. In the junior ladies Kilkenny were third in the county section with the same four athletes.
There was another bonus for St Senan’s when Tadgh Connolly finished fourth in the boys’ under-16 4,000m to secure his place on the Irish ‘A’ team for the Celtic International in January. This will be the first Irish vest for the 14-year-old from Kilmacow.
From the gun Tadgh was in a group of 10 athletes, all competing for a place on the Irish team spot. The first lap was gruelling, with no let-up in the pace and each athlete under pressure. At the 2km mark five athletes had drifted back from the main group, but not Tadgh. He produced his famous strong finish to claim fourth place. Kilkenny were 11th county while St Senan’s were 13th in the club rankings.
Hannah proved to be a very lucky name as Hannah Kehoe (Gowran) made the Celtic A team and Hannah O’Keeffe (Thomastown) claimed a place on the Celtic B team. The girls will join Tadgh Connolly at this international event in Belfast in January. Fiona Dillon (Thomastown) just missed out by one spot, but is eligible for this age group next year.
Hannah Kehoe had a much tougher race this year with four athletes locked together for 3.4km of this 4km race. Amy Hade of Newport was having her own race 100m ahead. As Cara Lavery (City of Derry) made a burst with 600m to go Hannah Kehoe followed her, moving away from Nessa Reilly (Dunleer) and Emma Landers (Youghal).
Hannah O’Keeffe came through strongly in the last lap for ninth place as Fiona Dillon held on to 11th place. Aine Kirwan (Thomastown) was just outside the medals in 16th place.
With no county team in the boys’ under-14 race the emphasis was on St Senan’s to produce the club goods, which they duly did. Having finished fourth in the Leinster championships they produced a massive performance to finish fifth at national level on Sunday, one of three Leinster clubs in the top five.
David Williams was never going to let his individual medal prospects slip. For the entire race he was in the top 10, moving into sixth spot for most of the race, before finishing inside the top 10.
It was a fantastic performance from the St Senan’s athlete, who won his first ever All-Ireland individual medal. He was also on the Leinster team that finished first. Billy Coogan was in hard luck as his 22nd place was not good enough to secure a place on the Leinster team, such was the strength of the province.
The county’s girls’ under-14 team ran well with a great performance from Caoimhe Phelan (St Senan’s) leading the county team home from Sarah Kehoe (Gowran). This team are young and will be a medal hope at the next All-Ireland, where they will all be of age.
There were no Kilkenny medals either in the boys’ under-12 race but Joss O’Connor (St Joseph’s) had a fantastic performance when he finished 17th. These athletes are still young, with plenty of years to pick up the medals.
Charlotte Carpendale of St Senan’s was the county’s only under-12 medal winner. Having been ill all week the plucky youngster ran a very brave race and finished eighth. Her team-mate Aine O’Callaghan came to cheer her on - Aine fractured a vertebrae during the week and was disappointed at being unable to compete. Hazel Coogan (Gowran) ran well to come home in 35th place.
There was disappointment for Kilkenny at senior level, as the county fielded just six athletes in the men’s section.
Eoin Everard (KCH) was the first of the county athletes home, crossing the line in 21st place. Then came Brian Maher, whose 33rd place finish was significant - not too many athletes in Ireland can achieve this high a placing at 41 years of age. Niall Sheehan (Gowran) had a great race to finish 43rd, his highest nationals placing to date.
This race was won by Kevin Dooney (Raheny Shamrocks) after a long battle with Sean Tobin (Clonmel AC). Raheny won the club title, with Clonliffe second and Clonmel third.
The senior women were represented by a county team while St Senan’s also had a club team. St Senan’s finished fourth in the club ‘B’ section while the county was fifth overall.
The county was led home by Sally Forristal (St Joseph’s) in 37th place while Lauren Dermody (Castlecomer) was next in 45th.
Although running for Liffey Valley Castlecomer native Sile Carroll always declares for her home county with Bronagh Kearns (St Senan’s) the fourth team member.
With more racing in store people can expect to see improvements from this young team.
Kilkenny results, national juvenile and senior cross-country championships (CC = Castlecomer, G = Gowran, KCH = Kilkenny City Harriers, LV = Liffey Valley, SJ = St Joseph’s, SS = St Senan’s, TT = Thomastown:)
Girls’ Under-12: 8 Charlotte Carpendale (SS), 37 Hazel Coogan (G), 81 Lily Ryan (SJ), 82 Roisin Burns (KCH), 90 Alexandra Brennan (G), 94 Eabha Mullally (SJ), 116 Caoimhe Fennelly (TT), 117 Orla Brennan (G), 139 Caoimhe Power (TT), 140 Moya O’Keeffe (SS). County: 8 Kilkenny. Province: 3 Leinster (with Charlotte Carpendale on the team).
Boys’ Under-12: 17 Joss O’Connor (SJ), 38 Isaac Carew (SS), 52 Ruairi Murphy (G), 56 Sam Brennan (G), 88 Michael O’Shea (SS), 96 Anil Ramsamwy (SS), 106 Tom Kehoe (G), 131 Luke Browne (KCH), 143 Jamie Calahan (CC). County: 10 Kilkenny. Club: 12 Gowran. Province: 1 Leinster (with Joss O’Connor on the team).
Girls’ Under-14: 35 Caoimhe Phelan (SS), 40 Sarah Kehoe (G), 65 Molly Long (SS), 73 Laura Challoner (TT), 77 Maeve Bookle (SJ), 87 Maria O’Keeffe (TT), 91 Rachel O’Neill (G), 120 Grace Glennon (SJ), 143 Molly O’Dornan (CC). County: 7 Kilkenny.
Boys’ Under-14: 10 David Williams (SS), 22 Billy Coogan (G), 32 Naoise Gilmartin (SS), 53 Gearoid Long (SS), 93 Ben Wallis (SS), 111 Eoin Aylward (SS), 116 Shane Morrissey (SS). Club: 5 St Senan’s. Province: 1 Leinster (David Williams on team).
Girls’ Under-16: 3 Hannah Kehoe (G), 9 Hannah O’Keeffe (TT), 11 Fiona Dillon (TT), 16 Aine Kirwan (TT), 52 Saoirse Allen (SS), 100 Emma Manogue (TT), 111 Pia O’Grady (G), 120 Orla O’Shea (TT). County: 2 Kilkenny. Club: 2 Thomastown. Province: 1 Leinster (Hannah Kehoe, Hannah O’Keeffe and Fiona Dillon on team).
Boys’ Under-16: 4 Tadgh Connolly (SS), 84 Colm Roche (SS), 94 Josh Fenton (SS), 128 Cillian Dunne (G), 131 Joe Kerrins (KCH), 140 Billy Power (TT), 141 Ryan Cummins (SS), 150 David Byrne (G). County: 11 Kilkenny. Club: 13 St Senan’s.
Girls’ Under-18: 7 Annie McEvoy (KCH), 8 Tara Ramsawmy (SS), 9 Sophie Jackman (SS), 15 Aoife Allen (SS), 53 Ellen Ryan (TT), 70 Issy Shine (KCH). County: 1 Kilkenny. Province: 1 Leinster (Annie McEvoy, Tara Ramsawmy and Sophie Jackman on team).
Boys’ Under-18: 1 Shay McEvoy (KCH), 25 Kevin Burns (KCH), 51 James Kearney (KCH), 65 John Muldowney (KCH), 83 Cathal Kearney (KCH), 100 Luke Whelan (KCH). Club: 4 KCH.
Junior Girls: 15 Annie McEvoy (KCH), 17 Tara Ramsawmy (SS), 19 Sophie Jackman (SS), 26 Aoife Allen (SS), 72 Issy Shine (KCH), 79 Ciara Murphy (KCH). County: 3 Kilkenny.
Junior Men: 7 Shay McEvoy (KCH), 48 Kevin Burns (KCH), 80 James Kearny (KCH), 93 John Muldowney (KCH), 114 Cathal Kearney (KCH), 123 Luke Whelan (KCH). Club: 4 KCH.
Senior Women: 37 Sally Forristal (SJ), 45 Lauren Dermody (CC), 62 Sile Carroll (LV), 76 Bronagh Kearns (SS), 78 Adele Walsh (SS), 82 Michelle McDonald (SS), 93 Aine Kinsella (SS). County: 5 Kilkenny. Club: 4 St Senan’s (Grade B).
Senior Men: 21 Eoin Everard (KCH), 33 Brian Maher (KCH), 43 Niall Sheehan (G), 71 James Kelly (CC), 152 Jonathan Crowley (SS), 156 Peter Barry (KCH). County: 6 Kilkenny.
For more on Kilkenny People sport read here.
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