Thomastown AC, winners of the girls under-17 relay
The first county championships of the 2019/2020 season proved to be a big hit as the crowds descended on Thomastown on Sunday.
Some races boasted 69 athletes, offering spectators a glimpse of the popularity of cross-country running. With the weather proving to be a little kinder there was no need for umbrellas or mad dashes to waiting cars, while the backdrop of Grennan Castle and the river Nore provided spectators with a great morning’s viewing.
With this year’s event contributing to the overall juvenile cross country shield for the first time, all the clubs were keen to establish an early lead.
Gowran are now leading the points race with 6.5 points. Kilkenny City Harriers (KCH) are second with six points and St Senan’s third with five points. Both Thomastown and St Joseph’s have 2.5 points each.
With both St Senan’s and KCH missing some of their prominent athletes, particularly in the older age groups, this means that next week’s county even age championships could see a big battle for the lead.
It was the size of the field in the girls’ under-11 race that impressed most spectators on the day. With 23 teams and 69 athletes lining up for the first relay of the day the starting line had to be expanded.
It was great to see so many young athletes making the effort. Everyone was a champion in their own right in this event.
With so many teams taking part, the competition was always going to be very strong. After the first leg it was St Joseph’s, Thomastown and KCH who were the top three. This lead changed a little midway through the second leg. In the end there was no doubt as to the KCH victory, though Thomastown fought hard and finished just two meters behind. St Joseph’s were a close third.
The boys’ under-11 race saw another large field with 45 athletes taking part. Gowran AC were the dominant club - they fielded four teams in the race - taking the first two spots. KCH filled the third and fourth places with St Senan’s the next two positions. There was some great running by young Robert Coogan (Gowran) who is still only under-10.
Molly Daly helped her KCH team to victory in the girls’ under-13 race. The fast-finishing Eve Dunphy (St Senan’s) had moved from sixth right up to second spot, threatening the city club’s dominance, but KCH held on, benefiting from the shorter relay of 250m.
Michael O’Shea (St Senan’s) ran a very impressive first leg in the boys’ under-13, drawing some 20m ahead of the KCH team. Isaac Carew maintained that lead with KCH clawing back some ground. Patrick Leacy ran a fantastic last leg for KCH to overtaken the southern club for the gold medal.
Juliet Evans (St Senan’s) handed over the baton to her St Senan’s club mate with over 25m to spare over St Joseph’s and Gowran. The lead was maintained by the second leg but St Joseph’s runner Grace Glennon chased down their neighbouring club and clawed back a substantial amount of ground. In the end it was St Senan’s who held on for the gold medal spot.
With the St Senan’s boys’ under-15 team absent it was left to KCH, Gowran and Thomastown to battle out for the ultimate honours. The Harriers proved their supremacy from the start with Sean Young impressing. Thomastown’s Liam Thompson had a great run while Billy Coogan was the leading man for Gowran.
It was head to head action for the under-17 girls between St Joseph’s AC and Thomastown. Both teams having some athletes with great sprinting ability.
In the end it was Thomastown, led by National Indoor champion Fiona Dillon, who secured victory. The boys’ under-17 race was clearcut with St Senan’s leading all the way.
The senior short course championships was also held in Thomastown. The men had 4km while the women ran the much shorter distance of 2km.
Kings River dominated the women’s race with Mary Steed taking victory from Mag Kirwan. With taking third spot it meant a clean sweep for the Kells-based club, who also won the team event.
The men’s race was somewhat different. Niall Sheehan of Gowran took the early lead with under-23 athlete Jonathan Crowley (St Senan’s) moving up with him.
Sheehan, the more experienced athlete, drew away as the race progressed, a move which left him a clear contender for the gold medal spot. Crowley, back in second place, was never in any danger of being eclipsed for the silver medal. Johann Muller (Gowran) was third, with Gowran winning the team event from Kings River.
There was more good news from State-side, with Aoibhe Richardson to the fore. The KCH athlete has moved from the University of Portland to the University of San Francisco where she is now studying for her Masters.
Running for her university Aoibhe won the Roy Griak Invitational 6km Cross Country race in a time of 20.47. This was 11 seconds clear of Alexandra Hays of Columbia University in second in a time of 20.58. Third place went to Megan Hasz of the University of Minnesota in 21 minutes. More than 150 women took part in the event.
Aoibhe’s time was a minute faster than her season-opening time of 21:39.3 on August 31 at the University of San Francisco Invitational, where she finished second to San Jose State’s Jenny Sandoval.
Athletes in the USA have about six to eight cross-country races of a very high calibre before their nationals at the end of November. Compared to home-based college athletes, who have maybe two races, the US scene is an attractive option for many young Irish cross-country runners.
Tullogher is the venue for the first stage of the individual county cross-country championships, which will be held this Sunday.
Ballycurran Cross is the place to be as championship team placings will contribute to the overall Cross Country Shield (championship age groups are under-10, 12, 14, 16 and 18).
Athletes may move up one age group. There will also be races for under-8s. The over-40s championships will be held after the juvenile programme.
The first race will be at 11am, with athletes encouraged to arrive early to warm up.
Sunday - County juvenile (even ages), Listerlin, Tullogher 11am.
Sunday, October 13 - County juvenile (odd ages), Castlecomer 11am.
Results, cross-country senior and relay championships (club code: BH = Barrow Harriers, CC = Castlecomer, G = Gowran, KCH = Kilkenny City Harriers, KR = Kings River, SJ = St Joseph’s, SS = St Senan’s, TT = Thomastown):
Senior Men’s 4km: 1 Niall Sheehan (G), 2 Jonathan Crowley (SS), 3 Johann Muller (G), 4 Mike Hanlon (KR), 5 Philip Fennelly (KR), 6 Adrian Cunningham (G), 7 Tom Corrigan (G), 8 Richie Mullally (SJ), 9 Brian McMahon (KR), 10 John Leamy (G), 11 Joe Langton (KR), 12 Stephen O’Connor (SJ), 13 Bill Carroll (TT), 14 Colm Barry (SJ).
Teams: 1 Gowran, 2 Kings River.
Senior Women’s 2km: 1 Mary Steed (KR), 2 Mag Kirwan (KR), 3 Emer Hickey (KR), 4 Irene Lennon (KR), 5 Emma Cooke (G), 6 Tracey Malone (SJ).
Girls’ Under-11: 1 KCH, 2 Gowran, 3 Thomastown, 4 KCH, 5 Gowran, 6 St Joseph’s, 7 Thomastown, 8 Barrow Harriers, 9 St Joseph’s, 10 Castlecomer, 11 KCH, 12 Thomastown, 13 Gowran, 14 St Senan’s, 15 Barrow Harriers, 16 Gowran, 17 Thomastown, 18 Gowran, 19 St Joseph’s, 20 Thomastown, 21 St Joseph’s, 22 Barrow Harriers, 23 Castlecomer.
Boys’ Under-11: 1 Gowran, 2 Gowran, 3 KCH, 4 KCH, 5 St Senan’s, 6 St Senan’s, 7 Gowran, 8 St Joseph’s, 9 Castlecomer, 10 Gowran, 11 Barrow Harriers, 12 KCH, 13 Gowran, 14 Castlecomer, 15 Thomastown.
Girls’ Under-13: 1 KCH, 2 St Senan’s, 3 KCH, 4 Gowran, 5 St Joseph’s, 6 St Joseph’s, 7 Thomastown, 8 Gowran, 9 Castlecomer, 10 St Senan’s, 11 St Joseph’s, 12 Barrow Harriers.
Boys’ Under-13: 1 Gowran, 2 St Senan’s, 3 St Joseph’s, 4 Castlecomer, 5 Gowran, 6 Gowran, 7 Gowran, 8 Thomastown.
Girls’ under-15: 1 St Senan’s, 2 St Joseph’s, 3 Gowran, 4 Castlecomer, 5 St Senan’s, 6 St Joseph’s.
Boys’ Under-15: 1 KCH, 2 Gowran, 3 Thomastown.
Girls’ Under-17: 1 Thomastown, 2 St Joseph’s.
Boys’ Under-17: 1 St Senan’s.
Girls’ Under-7: 1 Julia Daly (KCH), 2 Olivia O’Shea (TT), 3 Rachel Hogan (KCH), 4 Abbie Doherty (BH).
Boys’ Under-7: 1 Jack Minogue (TT), Liam Lavin (BH); 3 Cathal Murphy (SJ).
Girls’ Under-8: 1 Ellen Quinlan (SS), 2 Abigail Daly (CC), 3 Mia Kennedy (G).
Boys’ Under-8: 1 Eddie Bolger (BH), 2 David Hogan (KCH), Charlie Canavan (KCH).
Girls’ Under-9: 1 Mia Brennan (TT), 2 Katie Byrne (BH) 3 Amelia O’Brien (KCH).
Boys’ Under-9: 1 Sean Doherty (SJ), 2 Daire O’Flaherty (KCH), 3 Aaron Carrigan (G).
For more on Kilkenny People sport read here.