Tadgh Connolly (St Senan's)
While much of the parish of Kilmacow and Mullinavat was almost swept away by floods on Saturday, one Kilkennyman was left feeling like he could walk on water!
Tadgh Connolly (St Senan’s) unleashed a storm of the running kind at the All-Ireland athletics cross-country championships in Navan. Tadgh won the boys’ under-15 race in one of the most exciting and convincing wins of the day.
Nationally, people are used to hearing names like Aimee Hayde of Newport or Eferm Gidey of Clonliffe. When Tadgh hit the front after 50 metres and remained there for the next 250m, the commentators were struggling to find information on him.
In what people throughout Kilkenny and much of Leinster have come to see as the norm he ploughed through the course, pulling further and further away from the field with each step, to win by a margin of 29 seconds.
Tadgh has now won 10 national medals for the 2018 season. What makes this haul all the more remarkable is that he has not just won them for cross-country running but also discus, shot-put and race-walking. A remarkable collection from a remarkable individual.
Elsewhere other individual medal winners from county Kilkenny were making their own mark on events in Navan.
In the boys’ under-11 race Joss O’Connor put St Joseph’s AC on the map when he finished 12th individual to gain a podium placing. Joss also scored on the Leinster team that were second in the provincial section. Worthy of mention in this race is Hugo Tierney of Barrow Harriers.
This was a first national appearance for the Graignamanagh club.
The girls’ under-13 team always had the advantage of running together as a pack. With Sara Kehoe (Gowran), Orlaith Kirwan (Thomastown) and the St Senan’s pair of Caoimhe Phelan and Charlotte Carpendale usually having little between them.
On this occasion through sickness and injury the county mantle was left to the St Senan’s athletes to fly. Close in ability and in pace, both Caoimhe Phelan and Charlotte Carpendale worked together all the way.
Moving from 20th at 1,500m right through the field for the next 1,000m, the pair finished in 10th and 11th places respectively - there were two happy faces on the podium. Both girls also scored on the Leinster team that was third.
The boys’ under-13 were represented by Ben Wallis of St Senan’s, who had a good race to finish 43rd.
Hannah Kehoe came into the girls’ under-15 race as last year’s runner-up. She came home from this year’s race as this year’s runner-up, but don’t let the placing fool you.
For those at the race with 100m to go it looked like Hannah was set to take the gold medal.
Having worked hard all the way, digging deep and gliding over mud, shaking off any challenge that was made on her lead Hannah broke free and was racing up that final hill for victory. However, Emma Landers of Youghal found another gear and surged past Hannah in that final 100m to snatch victory from her rival.
Gracious as ever Hannah took her place on the podium as a great runner should. Fiona Dillon (Thomastown) looks like she is recovering nicely from an injury she sustained back in August when she came home in sixth place.
This is a huge performance improvement from the last All-Irelands and should allow Fiona to feel confidence for the post-Christmas schools cross-country season. Both Hannah and Fiona were on the Leinster team that finished first.
With the performance of the mighty Tadgh Connolly St Senan’s being the word on everyone’s lips in Navan, Kilkenny had a few other performances to praise in the under-15 event.
Tom Lodge from Kilkenny City Harriers (KCH) was 10th while David Williams (St Senan’s), who is still only under-14, ran a fantastic race to finish 15th, just outside the medals.
Leinster were first in the team category with Tadgh, Tom and David scoring. Kilkenny were third in the county section.
St Senan’s AC improved on the third club spot in 2017 to finish second in 2018 behind United Striders. This young team is one to watch for the future!
The girls’ under-17 team started their race in rather unfortunate circumstances. Having left Kilkenny in torrential rain, conditions in Navan had been very forgiving - but just as the girls were lining up the rain started and the wind picked up.
St Senan’s duo Sophie Jackman, Tara Ramsawmy and the Thomastown pair of Aine Kirwan and Hannah O’Keeffe were in the leading bunch for the first lap. Aimee Hayde of Newport then made her move.
This scattered the leading bunch, leaving it to long-time leader Lucy Holmes to lead the chasing pack of Roisin O’Reilly of Wexford and Cara Laverty of Derry. Behind them the Kilkenny girls were having battles of their own. With Tara Ramasawmy carrying an injury and Hannah O’Keeffe a headcold, the pace was left to Aine Kirwan and Sophie Jackman.
In the end Aine Kirwan finished 10th and Sophie Jackman was 15th. Leinster took silver with both girls scoring. The county was third, a great result considering they were missing some key athletes.
Thomastown did very well to come third in the club section, especially as they were missing one of their athletes.
The boys’ under-17 event saw Kilkenny deliver some good performances. With several newcomers from St Senan’s and several leading names missing, the boys did very well to finish seventh overall. First home for the county was Brogan McAvinney, who did well to finish 30th.
The county had two athletes finish in podium spots in the women’s under-19 event - Annie McEvoy (KCH) and Aoife Allen (St Senan’s), who has had a phenomenal year.
The county were in hard luck when they lost out on the third spot though countback. Under this process, where both teams achieve the same score the team with the last person home is deemed the loser - a fate which befell Kilkenny as they lost out to Meath.
Shay McEvoy had a lot to do to beat a man with such a reputation as Eferm Gidey of Clonliffe in the men’s under-19 event. The Ethiopian-born runner never looked in danger of being beaten as he glided over the muck.
Shay, on the other hand, managed to shake off the challenge of Northern athlete Conall McClean of St Malachy’s in Antrim to clinch second place. Kilkenny City Harriers were third club.
The Kilkenny women’s novice team had a very successful outing in Navan. In a field of over 151 athletes Bronagh Kearns (St Senan’s) looked her juvenile athletic self when she led the team home to third place.
Right behind her in 12th place was Sally Forristal (St Joseph’s) with Caoilte Malone (Thomastown) having a great race to finish 14th. Aine Kinsella (St Senan’s) completed the scoring quartet in 40th place. The race was won by Cheryl Nolan of St Abban’s who, in total exhaustion from her efforts, collapsed after the finish line.
The county men’s team was not as successful. With numbers low and many who are eligible for the novice grade not competing the county scraped together a team for the occasion. Led home by James Kelly (Castlecomer) in 36th place the county finished 12th overall. With over 250 athletes in this race, this was a good placing.
With the curtain now closed on the championship competitions for 2018, Kilkenny athletes have some exciting competitions to look forward to.
The action begins early in 2019 with the county indoors in Athlone on January 5. There will also be an open cross-country county event in January at Kilmacow.
Kilkenny results, All-Ireland athletics 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: Individual - 70 Orla Brennan, 112 Lucy Coomey, 118 Eve Doyle, 145 Ailbhe Steger, 146 Eimear Brennan, 152 Kate Hayden. Club - 16 Gowran.
Girls’ Under-13: Individual - 10 Caoimhe Phelan (SS), 11 Charlotte Carpendale (SS), 43 Laura Challoner (TT), 53 Ruth Fogarty (G), 59 Orlaith Kirwan (TT), 64 Maeve Bookle (SJ), 79 Rachel O’Neill (G), 80 Hazel Coogan (G), 94 Molly Long (SS), 128 Alex Brennan (G), 139 Grace Glennon (SJ). Club - 15 Gowran. County - 4 Kilkenny
Girls’ Under-15: Individual - 2 Hannah Kehoe (G), 6 Fiona Dillon (TT). Province: 1 Leinster.
Girls’ Under-17: Individual - 10 Aine Kirwan (TT), 15 Sophie Jackman (SS), 19 Tara Ramaswamy (SS), 27 Hannah O’Keeffe (TT), 52 Ellen Ryan (TT), 84 Orla O’Keeffe (TT), 99 Ellen Fitzgerald (KCH). Club - 3 Thomastown. County - 3 Kilkenny. Province - 2 Leinster.
Girls’ Under-19: Individual - 6 Annie McEvoy (KCH), 9 Aoife Allen (SS), 35 Aine Phelan (SS), 37 Izzy Shine (KCH), 50 Ciara Murphy (KCH), 51 Nell Murphy (SS). Club - 4 KCH, 5 St Senan’s. County - 4 Kilkenny. Province: 2 Leinster.
Boys’ Under-11: Individual - 12 Joss O’Connor (SJ), 25 Anil Ramsamwy (SS), 44 Tom Kehoe (G), 46 Conor Carroll (G), 75 Robert Lacey (KCH), 97 Thomas Carroll (G), 125 David Magee (G), 134 Luke Browne (KCH), 137 Hugo Tierney (BH), 147 Sam McAvinney. Club - 12 Gowran. County - 6 Kilkenny. Province: 2 Leinster.
Boys’ Under-13: Individual - 43 Ben Wallis (SS).
Boys’ Under-15: Individual - 1 Tadgh Connolly (SS), 10 Tom Lodge (KCH), 15 David Williams (SS), 23 Billy Coogan (G), 63 Colm Roche (SS), 75 Gearoid Long (SS), 78 Naoise Gilmartin (SS), 123 Billy Power. Club - 2 St Senan’s County - 3 Kilkenny. Province: 1 Leinster.
Boys’ Under-17: Individual - 30 Brogan McAviney (G), 71 John Muldowney (KCH), 92 Josh Fenton (SS), 95 Ryan Cummins (SS), 98 Fergal Suffin (SS), 105 Tom Butler (SS), 106 Peter Holohan (CC). Club - 8 St Senan’s. County - 7 Kilkenny.
Boys’ Under-19: Individual - 2 Shay McEvoy (KCH), 7 Kevin Burns (KCH), 10 James Kearney (KCH), 27 Luke Whelan, 31 James Kearney 40 Kevin Burns. Club - 3 KCH. County - 2 Kilkenny.
Novice Women: Individual - 11 Bronagh Kearns (SS), 12 Sally Forristal (SJ), 14 Caoilte Malone (TT), 40 Aine Kinsella (SS), 51 Michelle McDonald (SS), 108 Katie O’Brien (G), 128 Rachel Butler (SS). County - 3 Kilkenny
Novice Men: Individual - James Kelly (CC), Dean Rowe (G), Conor Rochford (SS), Jonathan Crowley (SS), Johann Muller (G). County: 12 Kilkenny.