Kilkenny quartet Eamonn O’Connor (KCH), Padraig Ruane (KCH), Darragh Buckley (St Senan’s) and Johan Muller (Gowran) in action at the Leinster Intermediate cross-country championships
The first athletics event of the new year got underway in Dunboyne last Saturday as Kilkenny juveniles helped themselves to five team podium medals in an eventful and exciting afternoon of cross-country competition.
The county’s adults, however, were not so lucky. With Covid affecting some athletes, teams were somewhat depleted, leading to Kilkenny being a little under-represented as a county.
However, the county has also been very successful in recent years at the intermediate level, which results in many adult athletes no longer being eligible for the intermediate category.
Dunboyne is famous for its flat but mucky field. With the mild weather dominating this winter the conditions underfoot were perfect, leading to fast races in both the juvenile relays and intermediate and masters cross-country races. There were no signs of the usual slippery passage between the two fields, with athletes being able to race without the danger of falling.
The girls’ under-12 relays got off to a flying start as Kilkenny City Harriers (KCH) led for much of the race. They were overhauled by the Kildare team Suncroft AC in the final 100m. The city-based team have a tradition of success at these relay events, with the cross-country relays a lovely way to mingle sprinters and distance athletes.
The boys’ under-12 race saw KCH get a silver, beaten marginally by Rathoath - the Meath club always seem to perform at relay events.
Thomastown were well represented on the day with the club’s girls’ under-14 team finishing third in the 4x500m relay race.
Thirteen teams started this age group with Rathoath once more claiming victory.
Gowran took home two sets of medals, both of them bronze. The boys’ under-12 and under-14 teams went back to Gowran with hard-earned spoils from a day’s racing.
There was a notable absence of St Senan’s AC, particularly in the girls’ under-16 race, an event they have been traditionally strong in.
Ruth Kennedy (Gowran) had yet another good run at cross-country, finishing fifth in the women’s intermediate race. With Bronagh Kearns (St Senan’s) injured and other county athletes out with Covid, what could have been a strong county team was very much depleted. For Kilkenny this was just one of those days from which the county will have to move on from and come back even stronger next year.
Ruth was consistently in the top eight leading athletes from the entire race, holding on to fifth place as the leaders made a surge in the last 5km. Her Gowran AC team did very well as they finished in fourth place.
The men’s intermediate county team finished fifth. Again unfortunately some athletes were missing through injury or Covid.
Eamonn O’Connor (KCH) led the team home in 16th place from clubmate Padraig Ruane. A fast pace was set up front by Gavin Eccles (Raheny), who did some great training sessions down in Kilmacow and Mooncoin over the Christmas. He attributed the country air and grassy fields to his convincing victory.
Alexander Wallace of Kildare was second with Eoin Smith of Meath in third place. This has been the fastest ever intermediate 8km cross country race.
There were large fields in the men’s masters with 102 athletes competing for podium spots. Kilkenny finished in seventh place in the county competition. James Kelly (Castlecomer), in his first year as a master and recently back from his honeymoon, led the county challenge home in a respectable fifth place. Kelly is no stranger to Dunboyne as he has run numerous Leinster and All-Ireland cross-country races at the Meath venue. The race was won by Irish international Mick Clohisey of Raheny.
Mick has competed for Ireland latterly at the marathon and on several occasions the European cross-country. With many distance athletes still peaking in their mid-30s this masters category often can produce some winners who are well capable of making Irish senior teams.
Clohisey was a class apart as he moved away from the field after just 500m, producing the most convincing victory of the afternoon’s competition. In the chasing pack James Kelly, worked hard to get that podium finish. In the end he was only 13 seconds off a bronze medal.
This week saw a breakthrough by Shay McEvoy in the mile at the Arkansas Indoor Invitational meet.
The KCH athlete had one of the highest finish of any of the Tulsa men, finishing the mile run in second place at 4:02.79 in his first indoor action of the season.
This is a massive personal best (PB) for Shay, who was left disappointed at not having made the Irish under-23 team for the European cross-country championships. This new PB will give him motivation for the year ahead - a sub four minute mile is surely on the cards before the season is through.
Girls’ Under-12 4x250m: 3 KCH (Amelia O’Brien, Jasmine Timmons McEneaney, Emma Kelly, Mollie-Rose Keegan), 8 Gowran, 9 KCH B.
Girls’ Under-14 4x500: 3 Thomastown (Amy O’Shea, Moya O’Shea , Katie O’Shea, Erin Morrissey, Holly Ryan), 12 Gowran.
Boys’ Under-12 4x250m: 2 KCH (Daire O’Flaherty, Emmet Murphy, Peter Quinn, Aidan Malone), 3 Gowran (Aaron Carrigan, Milo Geraghty, David Carroll, Aidan Corrigan), 5 KCH B, 7 Thomastown.
Boys’ Under-14 4x500: 3 Gowran (Tomas Carroll, Conor Carroll, Joe Hayes, Evan Ryan, Darragh Carroll).
Saturday: County Juvenile B Championships and Intermediate, Graignamanagh, 11.30am.
Sunday, January 31: Leinster Masters Indoors.
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