Top three seniors from left Brian Sheehan (Gowran), Brian Maher (KCH) and Eoin Everard (KCH)
The scenic backdrop of Kilkenny Castle provided the ultimate splendour for the Kilkenny senior county cross-country championships on Sunday.
With over 40 ladies and close to 60 men competing, it was one of the largest senior fields for a number of years. As a prelude to the senior races the juveniles were in action for the county B cross-country championships. Again large fields took part in most of the races, indicating the popularity of cross country running in the county.
Success for Senan’s
There was no change in the club and individual county champions. Lauren Dermody (Castlecomer) came into this year’s race as reigning individual champion and she came away from the race as the 2019 champion.
It was the same for the St Senan’s ladies club team. As the reigning 2018 champions they were keen to make it three in a row. They grouped well together and took the title, happy to achieve their aim.
With more than 40 women on the start line, it was great to see quite a few former juveniles make their senior debut alongside the seasoned veterans. Lauren Dermody looked focused and, despite missing the last race through a winter cold, she looked strong.
The St Senan’s crew also looked confident - Bronagh Kearns laughing out while Adele Walsh rubbed her quads one more time – marathon stiffness. Alongside them an army of Kilkenny City Harriers (KCH) athletes stepped up to the line. Gowran, St Joseph’s, Thomastown, Kings River – they were all ready to go too.
From the gun Dermody hit the front, increasing her lead further and further from the main field as the race progressed. She took the hill with ease, shortening her stride, getting the arms working hard. The ’Comer runner never looked behind – she knew all she had to do was look straight ahead, keep focused and do all the work needed to win this race convincingly.
The battle was on for silver and bronze as Caoilte Malone (Thomastown) and Aoife Allen (St Senan’s) forged a slight lead over another chasing group of five girls. Allen’s first senior race she was not sure what to expect - she had never even raced alongside her St Senan’s team mates before. Malone has been running well lately and figured she should give cross-country a go.
The athletes battled it out stride for stride but, at the 2,500m mark, both Bronagh Kearns (St Senan’s) and Adele Walsh (St Senan’s) had eaten into that gap. They moved into the two podium positions and slowly edged their way safely from the chasing group. With Kearns returning from an injury and Walsh racing on the back of the Dublin Marathon, both were doing really well.
With a little more speed, Kearns increased the pace and strode home for the silver medal. Walsh finished third while Grace Richardson (KCH) made a welcome return to racing - it must have been her first cross-country race in almost four years - and passed Aoife Allen with 800m to go to finish fourth. With Aoife Allen finishing fifth and Caoilte Malone sixth, St Senan’s clinched the team title when Michelle McDonald crossed the line in seventh place. Senan’s had 17 points to spare over KCH in their march to the spoils.
Up front there was no doubt as to the current racing form of Lauren Dermody, who looked totally at ease as she tried to push herself harder. In her final year as an under-23 athlete, she will be aiming for a spot on the Irish team for the European under-23 cross country this year.
Having missed the Abbotstown Open due to an illness, Sunday’s county cross-country was a welcome victory for her. She flashed a happy smile, swiped a stray hair from her forehead and relaxed once more. Another race done. Bring on the next.
In the ladies B race, Niamh Whelan of Thomastown secured a victory over Jane Campbell (KCH). Niamh O’Shea of Thomastown was third, with KCH taking the overall team victory from Thomastown.
Eight for Harriers
The senior men’s race was always going to be an exciting affair with Brian Maher and Eoin Everard expected to deliver a thrilling run.
Maher, who was in great form, was keen to hold on to the title he won in 2018 - Everard was in Australia at the time. On Sunday he was up again Everard, whom he had a marginal victory over in the Abbotstown Open a fortnight ago. Everard had the speed, Maher at the stamina.
At 43 Brian Maher was at the top of his game. He may have needed more recovery from races, but he was still good enough to make the top 10 or 15 at Nationals - not too many 43 year olds can say that!
Everard, on the other hand, had a 3.39 1,500m under his belt this year along with a 5,000m personal best (PB). Maher knew that if he could not shake Everard before the final 1km, he was likely to be the man trailing in the finishing tunnel.
Nerves were high; you could see it on both men’s faces at the starting line. Maher held his hands over his face and took a deep breath. Everard looked to the ground, fixing his spikes one last time. To the right of both men stood James Kelly of Castlecomer, fresh from his second place in the Leinster Novice the week before. Niall Sheehan of Gowran shared a joke with a team-mate and then looked straight ahead, ignoring any further banter. He was getting into his starting zone.
The gun sounded, and the athletes were away. A fast break saw Maher and Everard hit the front immediately. With Kilkenny Castle in full view they headed towards it, hardly noticing it. An athlete focuses on the race, the rhythm, the breathing and is oblivious to his or her surroundings.
Passing the Castle, taking a turn, heading up the straight before the hill, both athletes matched each other’s strides. Training partners, they knew each other inside out. This was the hardest race to run – it was much easier to have race rivals from another mix.
Back in third place Niall Sheehan of Gowran was working hard, head down, long stride patterns, he made the turn. James Kelly was in fourth. Back behind him, the athletes were bunched, each getting into the race, finding their pace.
Over the hill for the first time, the leaders hardly flinched. The second time, still at ease. Each lap seemed to be getting faster. Eoin Everard knew Brian Maher was trying to burn him but, prepared for that, he hung on and dug deep on each hill.
By the time the fifth lap and the fifth climb came, Maher had moved ahead. Increasing the pace he pushed ahead some more. For the final 2km he gained enough ground to provide a safety net from Everard’s pace.
Maher came home victorious, with Everard second and Niall Sheehan third. James Kelly (Castlecomer) was fourth. The top positions had not changed during the race.
Kilkenny City Harriers waited for their third and fourth runners. They needed these guys to win every position they could. James Ledingham was trying hard to shake off a challenge from Conor Rochford (St Senan’s). He made one last burst and moved ahead taking fifth place. All KCH needed now was their fourth man. Dean Rowe passed in seventh place, then Shane Noonan in ninth.
Gowran now had three men home. Paul Deegan of Gowran was moving fast, crossing the line in 11th place to make it four home. Ken Maher (KCH) was sprinting hard and was next home in 12th place - it was going to be close. With the scores added up, KCH clinched the gold, their eighth victory in a row. Gowran finished 10 points behind.
Brian Maher was elated with his performance. His two boys came over to congratulate him - the joy of victory racing through his young family. He congratulated Everard and Sheehan and the other boys. The work was done for today – there was another gold medal to hang on the hook.
Pat Purcell (KCH) won the B race from Michael Ryan (St Joseph’s) with Kings River taking the B team title.
There were very large fields in the county juvenile B races. With the first three in each race and the winning team from the As eliminated, the B Championships are a catalyst in developing young athletic talent. These races provide the much needed confidence for many an athlete.
There were some fantastic and exciting races. Naoise Gilmartin (St Senan’s) was in front from the start of the boys’ under-16 but was chased hard by Billy Power (Thomastown). The St Senan’s man didn’t give up and stretched the lead on the last lap to get the gold.
The boys’ under-14 race saw Liam Thompson (Thomastown) and Sean Young locked in battle for the first half of their encounter. However Thompson pulled away on the back straight to take the gold.
Meave Bookle (St Joseph’s), who had a good race in the Leinsters and made the county team for the Nationals, won the girls’ under-14 race. Her clubmate Ava Mullally was second with Emer Phelan (Castlecomer) third. With Caoimhe Barry having a great race to finish fifth St Joseph’s won the team prize.
Lily Ryan had a great performance in the girls’ under-12 event. She took gold from Lucy Coomey (Gowran) with Emer Cormack (KCH) third. Thomastown, with a strongly grouped bunch of girls, won the team gold.
The under-12 boys’ race saw Diarmuid Behan (KCH), Hugo Tierney (Barrow Harriers) and John Power (Thomastown) battle for top honours. Behan overtook Tierney with 200m to go to get the gold.
The Dublin City Marathon is a marathon with a marathon three times over as it incorporates the National, Leinster and County Marathon.
In the county section Gerry Walsh (Thomastown) was the first Kilkennyman home in a time of 2 hours 57 minutes. There was a very close battle behind Gerry between two KCH athletes Paul Moran and John O’Donnell. It was Moran, in a time of 2 hours 58 minutes and 33 seconds who got the silver - a mere five seconds ahead of O’Donnell.
The county’s women were somewhat speedier than the men on this occasion with Sally Forristal (St Joseph’s) crossing the line for gold in a new personal best of 2 hours 54 minutes. Adele Walsh (St Senan’s) was second in 2 hours 55 minutes. Orla O’Leary (Kings River) was third in 3 hours 12 minutes.
KCH won the men’s team title with St Joseph’s winning the ladies. Sally Forristal finished sixth overall in the National Marathon. Adele Walsh finished sixth in the National over-40s with Maria Griffin (St Joseph’s) second in the over-50s national marathon.
Results, Juvenile B and senior cross-country 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)
Boys’ Under-8: 1 Eddie Bolger (BH) 2 David Hogan (KCH) 3 Elliott Morrissey (TT) 4 Richie Mullally (SJ) 5 Luca Kinsella (SJ) 6 Joey Bolger (BH) 7 Jack Minogue (TT) 8 Harry Brennan (TT) 9 Noah Doyle (TT) 10 Liam Lavin (BH) 11 Darragh Brennan (KCH) 12 James Bourne (CC) 13 Patrick Drennan (G) 14 Tommy O’Hanlon (SS) 15 Rian Mullally (CC) 16 Andrew Foley (BH) 17 Calum Cuddihy (BH).
Girls’ Under-8: 1 Ellen Quinlan (SS) 2 Abigail Daly (CC) 3 Ella Furlong (KCH) 4 Charlotte Ryan (TT) 5 Lydia Deegan (G) 6 Anna O’Brien (KCH) 7 Allison Ryan (TT) 8 Eve Molloy (KCH) 9 Ella Cooke (G) 10 Isobel Lawlor (CC) 11 Shannon O’Neill (BH) 12 Lucy Wirtz (CC) 13 Kira Mullally (SS) 14 Kate Cunningham (KCH) 15 Sadie Treacy (BH) 16 Abbie Doherty (BH) 17 Ciara McEvoy (BH) 18 Aoife Mullally (SS).
Boys’ Under-10: 1 Ryan Farrell (KCH) 2 Zack Fenton (SS) 3 Mikey Phelan (KCH) 4 Dara Leamy (G) 5 Daire O’Flaherty (KCH) 6 David Browne (CC) 7 Conor Henderson (KCH) 8 Sean Lavin (BH) 9 Harry Barcoe (G) 10 MJ Carroll (G) 11 Shane Molloy (KCH) 12 Peter Quinn (KCH) 13 Jack Gamble (CC) 14 Danny Murray (SS) 15 Michael O’Keeffe (G) 16 Thomas Hayes (KCH) 17 Matthew Cooke (G) 18 Eoin McMenamin (KCH) 19 Tom Henderson (KCH) 20 Simom O’Hanlon (SS) 21 Calum King (BH) 22 Jack O’Neill (KCH) 23 Rowan Morrissey (KCH) 24 Rory O’Donnell (KCH) 25 David Carroll (G) 26 Michael Ryan (TT) 27 Cathal Bennett (G) 28 Dylan Drennan (G) 29 Andy Ryan (CC) 30 Luke Thompson (TT) 31 Andrew Forrestal (TT). Teams: 1 KCH, 2 Gowran, 3 KCH, 4 St Senan’s, 5 Castlecomer, 6 KCH, 7 Gowran, 8 KCH, 9 Thomastown.
Girls’ Under-10: 1 Holly Drennan (G) 2 Mia Brennan (TT) 3 Olivia Mullally (SJ) 4 Ava Hanrahan (KCH) 5 Orlaith Carroll (G) 6 Zoe Beck (TT) 7 Emily O’Keeffe (G) 8 Anna O’Shea (SS) 9 Aisling O’Neill (G) 10 Katie Byrne (BH) 11 Emma Kelly (KCH) 12 Lily Cullen (TT) 13 Rachel Duff (G) 14 Grainne O’Shea (TT) 15 Ingrid Tierney (BH) 16 Katlin Shortall (KCH) 17 Siofra Connolly (KCH) 18 Lauren Phelan (G) 19 Amy Whyte (SS) 20 Anna Kelsey (G) 21 Hanna O’Reilly (TT) 22 Lucy Cunningham (G) 23 Chloe Byrne (BH) 24 Daisy Coomey (G) 25 Emma Nicol (BH) 26 Jasmine Timmons McEneaney (KCH) 27 Saorla Mullally (SJ) 28 Lisa Ryan (TT) 29 Zoe Brandon (TT) 30 Isobel Griffin (SJ) 31 Shannon Doherty (TT) 32 Ada Mullally (SS) 33 Muireann McDonald (SS) 34 Eimear Keating (G) 35 Ruth Doherty (BH) 36 Aisling Maye (KCH) 37 Faye McLaughlin (G) 38 Chloe McLaughlin (G) 39 Beth Cooney (KCH). Teams: 1 Gowran, 2 Thomastown, 3 KCH, 4 Gowran, 5 Barrow Harriers, 6 St Senan’s, 7 St Joseph’s, 8 Thomastown, 9 Gowran, 10 KCH, 11 Gowran.
Boys’ Under-12: 1 Diarmuid Behan (KCH) 2 Hugo Tierney (BH) 3 John Power (TT) 4 Ronan Dwan (KCH) 5 Charlie Ryan (CC) 6 Paul Millea (KCH) 7 Alex Daly (CC) 8 Luke Browne (KCH) 9 Conor Holden (KCH) 10 Tom Kehoe (G) 11 Tiernan O’Brien (KCH) 12 Aidan Keating (G) 13 Luke Kelly (G) 14 Kyle Bolger (SJ) 15 Conor Duggan (TT) 16 Ciaran McMenamin (KCH) 17 Joseph Langton (G) 18 Odhran Prendergast (G) 19 Ruairi Henderson (KCH) 20 James O’Reilly (TT) 21 Paddy Challoner (TT) 22 Tom Brennan (KCH) 23 Ryan Phelan (SS) 24 Richie Forristal (TT) 25 Calum Burke (G). Teams: 1 KCH 2 KCH 3 Gowran 4 Thomastown 5 KCH 6 Gowran.
Girls’ Under-12: 1 Lily Ryan (SJ) 2 Lucy Coomey (Gowran) 3 Emer Cormack (KCH) 4 Aoife Dillon (CC) 5 Megan O’Reilly (TT) 6 Mary Kate Ryan (TT) 7 Clodagh Cooke (SS) 8 Eimear Brennan (Gowran) 9 Eimhin Donohue (SS) 10 Aisling Coverdale (TT) 11 Alanna Thompson (TT) 12 Abbie Cunningham (Gowran) 13 Ceola Leamy (Gowran) 14 Evelyn McEvoy (KCH) 15 Aisling Mullally (SS) 16 Ava Butler (CC) 17 Camille Brandon (TT) 18 Ava Quinn (KCH) 19 Nicole King (BH) 20 Kathy Phelan (Gowran) 21 Emma Hogan (KCH) 22 Ellen Millea (KCH) 23 Eilish Keating (Gowran) 24 Una Cooper (SS) 25 Mia Barry (SJ) 26 Laura Gamble (CC) 27 Katie Boyd (Gowran) 28 Roisin Holohan (CC) 29 Clodagh Maye (KCH) 30 Aoife Lavin (BH) 31 Muireann Holden (KCH). Teams: 1 Thomastown, 2 Gowran, 3 St Senan’s, 4 KCH, 5 Castlecomer, 6 Gowran, 7 KCH.
Boys’ Under-14: 1 Liam Thompson (TT) 2 Sean Young (KCH) 3 Eoin O’Callaghan (KCH) 4 Dara Behan (KCH) 5 Liam Rea (KCH) 6 Michael Holland (Gowran) 7 Ben Drennan (Gowran) 8 Stephen O’Dwyer (CC) 9 Tuan Hyland (KCH) 10 Conor Millea (KCH) 11 Ruairi Phelan (Gowran) 12 Adam Lynch (CC) 13 Sean Cooke (Gowran). Teams: 1 KCH, 2 KCH, 3 Gowran.
Girls’ Under-14: 1 Maeve Bookle (SJ) 2 Ava Mullally (SJ) 3 Emer Phelan (CC) 4 Tracey Geoghegan (KCH) 5 Caoimhe Barry (SJ) 6 Laura Challoner (TT) 7 Hannah Quinn (KCH) 8 Laura Kehoe (KCH) 9 Abbie Kehoe (KCH) 10 Moya O’Keeffe (SS) 11 Caoimhe Fennelly (TT) 12 Laoise Donohue (SS) 13 Aoife O’Shea (SS) 14 Niamh Ryan (KCH) 15 Jane Holohan (CC) 16 Caoimhe Power (TT) 17 Kate Kelly (G) 18 Caoimhe Bennett (G) 19 Lily Treacy (BH). Teams: 1 St Joseph’s, 2 KCH, 3 Thomastown, 4 KCH.
Boys’ Under-16: 1 Naoise Gilmartin (SS) 2 Billy Power (TT) 3 Luke Phelan (G) 4 Matthew Holland (G) 5 Harry Boyle (KCH) 6 Diarmuid Langton (G) 7 Oisin Reilly (TT) 8 Evan Walsh-Brennan (SS). Teams: 1 Gowran.
Girls’ Under-16: 1 Pia O’Grady (G) 2 Eabha Carroll (TT) 3 Maria Connolly (G) 4 Erin Foley (SJ).
Senior Women’s A: 1 Lauren Dermody (CC) 2 Bronagh Kearns (SS) 3 Adele Walsh (SS) 4 Grace Richardson (KCH) 5 Aoife Allen (SS) 6 Caoillte Malone (TT) 7 Michelle McDonald (SS) 8 Caoimhe Foley (KCH) 9 Aine Kinsella (SS) 10 Cathy Millett (KCH) 11 Katie O’Brien (G) 12 Donna Dunne (KCH) 13 Maeve O’Connor (TT) 14 Orla O’Leary (KR) 15 Megan Morrissey (TT) 16 Orla McPhillips (KCH) 17 Kathryn Kennedy (G) 18 Fiona Cullen (TT) 19 Mag Kirwan (KR) 20 Sheila O’Callaghan (KCH) 21 Maria Cormack (KCH) 22 Sinead O’Keeffe (TT) 23 Ciara Murphy (KCH) 24 Annie O’Connor (KCH) 25 Rebecca Kennedy (G) 26 Martina Lynch (KCH) 27 Emma Cooke (G). Teams: 1 St Senan’s, 2 KCH, 3 Thomastown, 4 KCH, 5 Gowran.
Senior Women’s B: 1 Niamh Whelan (TT) 2 Jane Campbell (KCH) 3 Niamh O’Shea (TT) 4 Joya Burns (KCH) 5 Kate Millea (KCH) 6 Kate Sugrue (KCH) 7 Aoife Cleary (TT) 8 Michelle Doherty (TT) 9 Anne-Marie Shortall (KCH). Teams: 1 KCH, 2 Thomastown.
Senior Men’s A: 1 Brian Maher (KCH) 2 Eoin Everard (KCH) 3 Niall Sheehan (G) 4 James Kelly (CC) 5 James Ledingham (KCH) 6 Conor Rochford (SS) 7 Dean Rowe (G) 8 David McPherson (TT) 9 Shane Noonan (G) 10 Bernard Keane (SJ) 11 Paul Deegan (G) 12 Ken Maher (KCH) 13 Jonathan Crowley (SS) 14 Oliver Mullally (SS) 15 Paddy O’Keeffe (G) 16 Peter Barry (SJ) 17 Johann Muller (G) 18 Danny Shanahan (TT) 19 Graham Bourne (KCH) 20 Sean Caulfield (SS) 21 John O’Donnell (KCH) 22 Joey Duggan (SJ) 23 Denis O’Sullivan (TT) 24 Stuart Waugh (TT) 25 David Langton (SJ) 26 Paul Dempsey (TT) 27 David Irish (SS). Teams: 1 KCH, 2 Gowran, 3 St Senan’s, 4 Thomastown, 5 St Joseph’s.
Senior Men’s B: 1 Pat Purcell (KCH) 2 Michael Ryan (SJ) 3 Adrian Cunningham (G) 4 Mike Hanlon (KR) 5 John Cody (G) 6 Philip Fennelly (KR) 7 Pat Young (KCH) 8 Tony Lauhoff (KCH) 9 Vivien Fennelly (KR) 10 Pat Bookle (SJ) 11 Denis Lahart (KR) 12 Paddy Shortall (G) 13 Stephen O’Connor (SJ) 14 David Lawlor (KCH) 15 Oisin Mac Cinneide (KCH) 16 Tom Corrigan (G) 17 Bill Carroll (TT) 18 Colm Barry (SJ) 19 Paul Larkin (KCH). Teams: 1 Kings River, 2 KCH, 3 Gowran, 4 St Joseph’s.
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