United Striders A.C.: On a miserable, wet and windy Sunday afternoon, close to 50 Striders turned up to compete in round three of the Wexford winter league at the Enniscorthy track.
We are very lucky, at the moment, to have a great bunch of children who just love running and great parents who support the club, so it was great to see such a big turn-out. Having done really well in rounds one and two, the Striders put in another great performance in this penultimate round. As a result, we stretched our lead before the final round.
Yet again Sophie Griffin got us off to a great start with a second place. With no runners in the next two races, we had to wait for the ultra-consistent Ronan Shannon for another second place finish, just ahead of Patrick Pyne and Cillian Browne.
Chloe Berry was first Strider home, ahead of Aoife Barry and Sarah Finn in the next race. One of our top league performers over the years has been Seán Lennon, and he led home Luca O'Connor, Donnacha McCarthy and Kevin Phelan, with all four boys finishing in the top ten.
Our first success of the day was courtesy of Leona Berry, leading from the front to win well. Ruby Murphy ran yet another great race to score well for the team.
Myles Hewlett dominated the next race from start to finish to win his third league race convincingly. Just behind was Finn Kelly who had to work hard to keep in front of Cosmo Hewlett, who finished like an express train down that home straight.
In a great race for the Striders we also had Caolan Costello, Eoin Shannon, Ciarán McCarthy, Brian Whitty and Luke Finn, with all finishing strongly.
The two Ciaras, Murphy and Burke, ran very well in the worst of conditions to finish fourth and seventh respectively. The Under-12 boys did really well, with Darragh Flannelly, Owen Lennon, Oisín Mac Eochaidh and Seán Barry all finishing in the top five.
Louise Doyle, Erinn Shannon and Eve Byrne all did really well to finish in the top six, as did the boys in the same age group, Adam O'Connor and Conor Phelan. Adam has now won all three rounds of the league and has been exceptional on the track this year.
Aoife Nic Eochaidh was first Strider home in the next age group, just ahead of Maeve Whitty and Carmen Vidal. Aaron Browne continued his unbeaten run in the league, coming home ahead of Cian Flanagan, Conor Murphy, Ryan Kielthy, Alex Molloy and Mikey Murphy.
The final race was quite a spectacle, being an all-Strider affair and involving three age groups. Pádraig Bailey continues to look very impressive on the track and ran out a convincing winner. In behind, Katie Murphy took the honours in her age group, as did Rebecca Bawden in hers. With Grace Costello, Gráinne Flannelly and Allanah Byrne all finishing well, it ended the day on a high for Striders.
Given the conditions, this was a marvellous effort by our athletes and moved us one step closer to retaining the trophy.
See www.unitedstriders.com or United Striders on Facebook for more details.
The ladies' section last week saw a new challenger climb the league table in the shape of Inez Brennan. Inez played a near flawless match to beat Caroline Bradley in the final and is now a serious contender to be ladies' champion at the end of the year.
Both Michelle Bradley and Liz Byrne were absent on the night and Inez made the most of the opportunity with this good win. Caroline still leads the league though and now has her fate in her own hands after week seven.
The main event's first semi-final was contested by Paul Murphy and Aidan O'Neill. Paul is running into a nice bit of form lately and is not going to relinquish his crown easily as he ran out a winner this time on a score of two legs to nil.
Aidan is a youngster with a great future in front of him though. He is only 17 years of age but is a serious player already and is giving the more established (older!) players a lot to think about at the moment and looks like a top 16 player.
Michael Meaney and David Murphy entered the fray to see who would go on to play Paul in the final, and both of these players need no introduction to anyone with the slightest knowledge of darts in Ireland as they are both playing at the top levels in the game.
Michael, who was looking to make it two wins in a row this season, got off to a flyer and, despite a strong showing from David in the second leg, he held on to make the final where a win would see him take the lead from Jeff Nolan.
The final wasn't as close as other weeks as Michael won by three legs to nil, but the score doesn't reflect the match as we had nine scores of over one hundred, including a 180 from Michael in the second leg. On another day Paul could have reversed this score quite easily but the difference between winning and losing is miniscule and so it proved on this occasion.
Michael has taken the league number one spot for the first time this year from Jeff, but with nine weeks to be played still this is far from over and only a very brave man would bet on a winner at this stage.
Spot the dart winner was Lee White and he had to settle for €20 as his throw at the bull didn't quite hit the mark. We have two more weeks to play before our Christmas break, so Wednesday, December 16, will be the last night played and we will be back on Wednesday, January 6.
ST. JOSEPH'S A.C.
Sunday morning saw the St. Joseph's contingent roll into St. Augustine's College in Dungarvan for the national uneven ages cross-country All-Irelands. Huge fields of 160-plus competitors in all the younger age groups ensured that the course became a sea of deep mud in places.
First event on the programme was the girls' Under-11 race over 1,500 metres. Áine Purcell, competing in her first All-Ireland, had a great run, finishing in 68th position from 167 competitors. Also competing in her first All-Ireland was Maeve Bookle who powered through the mud to finish in 100th position. Maeve is also eligible to run in this age category next year.
Erin Foley and Katie Bookle finished covered in muck but otherwise unscathed in 117th and 126th place respectively in the ultra-competitive girls' Under-13 race, and Tomás Mullally ran his heart out to finish 145th in a huge field of competitors in the boys' Under-13 race.
Both Erin and Tomás are eligible to compete at Under-13 level again next year and were the only athletes in the club to qualify for cross-country All-Irelands in two age categories this year.
A huge' thank you' to all our club coaches, and to the parents for travelling to all the county, Leinster and All-Ireland cross-country championships.
All roads will lead to the Pink Rock on St. Stephen's Day for the annual St. Joseph's festive fun run over five km. The fun run and walk will start at 12 noon with a huge crowd, young and old, guaranteed. Come along with all the family, enjoy the great atmosphere, and get in a little post-Christmas day exercise.
Gorey's second string had Ashbourne at home on Saturday and were unlucky to come out on the wrong end of a low-scoring game.
Gorey played with the wind in the first-half but Ashbourne managed to score first after a hack up the field evaded the covering Gorey backs and the visitors grabbed a try under the posts.
Seven-nil is how it stayed to the break as Gorey tried hard but could not break down the opposing defence.
The second-half saw Ashbourne turn with the wind and pin Gorey back into their half with large amounts of possession, but the Gorey defence stood solid as they repeatedly stopped Ashbourne from adding to their solitary try.
Gorey tried hard to get back on level terms, with Eoin Walshe almost breaking clear on one or two occasions.
This was a much-improved performance from Gorey with Jason Emery, Killian Breen and Donnchadh Carroll the pick of the forwards. Aidan O'Brien, Clement Power and man of the match Eoin Walshe performed well for the backs.
Next week sees Gorey travel to De La Salle for the final game before the Christmas break.
Team: D. Gregan, Z. Sinnott, T. Tomkins, C. French, J. Emery, K. Breen, N. Cousins, D. Carroll, T. Martin, A. O'Brien, C. Furney, S. Rafferty, E. Walsh, A. Walshe, C. Power, S. Carthy, J. Reynolds, P. Spencer, C. Hatton, C. Kinsella.
Enniscorthy ladies' second team were out once again on Sunday in search of their first league win, but unfortunately it was not meant to be as they met another tough Kilkenny side.
Enniscorthy knew from early that this was going to be a challenging game and Kilkenny's attacking tactics came into play from a very early stage. From the Kilkenny tip-off, Enniscorthy won the ball and started with a strong attacking side, with Orlaith Breen pushing through the centre alongside Niamh Buttle and Emma Doyle.
The first goal came after 14 minutes, and despite Enniscorthy's strong defence, Kilkenny kept the pressure on. Róisín Nolan's continuous onslaught in midfield backed up by Caroline Doyle resulted in a much-needed break in the direction of the Kilkenny goal.
The home side fought tremendously hard to prevent Kilkenny from adding to the scoreline, and Enniscorthy goalie Fiona Rothwell made some outstanding saves. Enniscorthy were under immense pressure but couldn't keep them out any longer, with Kilkenny's second goal coming just five minutes before the break. The half-time whistle blew and the score remained 2-0 to the visitors.
After the break, Enniscorthy had many great runs in the second-half with good linking and build-up in midfield from Avril Buttle and Fiona Breen. This excellent phase of play led to Enniscorthy winning a free outside the circle but unfortunately to no avail.
Once again the Buttle sisters had a great link, only to be intercepted by the Kilkenny defence.
Enniscorthy backs were under pressure again and the third goal for Kilkenny came just after the ten-minute mark into the second-half.
Kilkenny were on the attack again and made Enniscorthy goalie Fiona Rothwell come out of her goal, winning the ball, only for it to deflect off a Kilkenny stick to send it back in. Quick-thinking Kim O'Connor stepped in as back-up and made a great save.
A lovely pass out to Áine O'Brien meant the ball was cleared out of the Enniscorthy circle. It was just not meant to be for Enniscorthy as Kilkenny added to the scoreboard again just coming up to the 25th minute, scoring their fourth goal.
Despite the scoreline of 4-0 to Kilkenny, Enniscorthy were strong in their defence and made it very difficult for the Kilkenny attackers. From the off it was a great game of hockey from both teams with lovely passes and great skill.
Enniscorthy: Róisín O Muirí, Aine O'Brien, Kim O'Connor, Niamh Buttle, Emma Doyle, Avril Buttle, Lillian Howlin, Fiona Breen, Saoirse Power, Róisín Nolan, Róisín Bridges, Orlaith Breen, Caroline Doyle, Catherine Dunbar, Fiona Rothwell, Lisa Tyghe. Coach: Ivanna Yates. Manager: Irene Doyle.
SLANEY OLYMPIC A.C.
With Storm Desmond playing havoc on most sporting activities over the weekend, there was lots of disappointment with the postponement of the Waterford Half-Marathon and Clonakilty Marathon on Saturday, due to concerns about health and safety for the runners. The Waterford Half is now due to take place on January 9.
Emily O'Connor was the sole representative from the club who took part on Sunday in the national Novice cross-country race held in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford.
The ladies' race was over 4km and conditions underfoot after the recent bad spell were muddy and treacherous throughout the course. Emily finished in 41st place in a time of 17.24. Well done Emily.
Mag Sludds and Ger Dempsey took part in the Directors Marathon held on Friday in Clonakilty, Co. Cork, in challenging conditions. Well done folks.
Don't forget next Sunday, December 13, is the Senior cross-country race which will be held on the Wexford racecourse. All runners are eligible to race; the ladies have 5km and the men 10km.
A much-depleted Wexford Wanderers second XV travelled to Lakelands on Saturday in the middle of Storm Desmond to face Dublin side Terenure College in the return fixture of the meeting of the sides last September.
In the previous encounter Terenure were beaten 24-18 at Park Lane by a Wanderers side which finished the contest with only twelve men to Terenure's 14 due to injuries.
With much debate about travelling conditions, the Wexford side committed to travel and fulfil the fixture at a late kick-off time of 3 p.m.
The Wexford side started the contest with the bare requirement of starting players and competed well in a fixture where even the referee had difficulty communicating his decisions due to the howling gale.
Both sides competed well in an error-strewn contest where the wind at any moment could decide to change the direction of the ball mid-pass.
The opening score came from a Terenure break where they managed to cross in the corner after some strong running from their backs to lead 7-0 at the interval.
During the game Storm Desmond decided that he wanted a bigger hand in proceedings and such was the ferocity of the wind that at the kick-off for the second period the Wanderers out-half only managed to kick the re-start five metres forward before it disappeared over Wanderers' dead ball line.
The referee consulted with both teams about continuing with the fixture and a compromise was agreed for the re-starts with scrums instead of kick-offs.
During this period Terenure increased the lead with a second try before the midfield general Noel Richards crossed for a consolation try which was just reward after being held up short moments earlier.
The final scoreline was 17-5 which was a great reflection on the depleted Wanderers side which fielded.
Next Saturday sees Wanderers hosting Suttonions at Park Lane in the final game of 2015. It is hoped as many people as possible can make the trip to Park Lane to support the side.
Team: Reece Moore, John Hickey, Dermot Graham, James O'Connor, Ger Lynch (capt.), Steve Roche, Kevin Roche, Owen Cardiff, Michael Donohue, Noel Richards, James Roche, Aidan Harrington.
Wexford Wanderers ladies' XV, affectionalty known as 'The Vixens', hosted Arklow at Park Lane on Sunday in the aftermath of Storm Desmond.
The local side has endured a tough season with a string of defeats against a number of teams in Division 2, but on Sunday they came up trumps as they faced Arklow Arrows.
The Arrows brought a strong pack, particularly in the scrum, and steady defence but couldn't match up to the pace and determination of the Wexford back seven, where the majority of the home side's twelve tries were earned.
While the backs were in flying form, the Vixens' pack didn't shy away from hard graft either, using their trademark maul to make ground and dominating in the breakdown.
The final whistle blew with the score standing at an impressive 74-0 to Wexford Vixens, with tries by Máire Busher, Loretta Gilbert, Emma Shannon, Linda Casey and Mandy Russell and conversions by Máire Busher and Siobhán Cloake.
The Vixens face league front runners Tullow under the floodlights on Friday, December 11, at 7.30 p.m. in Park Lane.
Team: Anna Marie Russell, Shaunna McGuinness, Lauren Murphy, Ashley Reddin, Donna O'Brien, Aine Whelan, Fiona McAuley, Fleur Moran, Aoife Finnerty, Máire Busher, Linda Casey, Shendah Moran, Loretta Gilbert, Emma Shannon, Siobhán Cloake. Subs. - Christina Armstrong, Mandy Russell.