Holders leave mark in mud
The Mr Oil Wexford Senior cross-country championships took place on Sunday on the racecourse in Wexford, hosted by D.M.P.
Conditions were truly in keeping with this year's Irish cross-country season, with plenty of muck, a damp, misty day and many opportunities for a fall throughout the race. Nevertheless, both the ladies' and men's races provided for great competition throughout in what is always one of the most hotly-contested races in the Athletics Wexford calendar.
There was a disappointing turn-out in the women's race with only 18 athletes taking to the start line in the premier cross-country race in Wexford. Kilmore, who were the hot favourites for the team prize after a brilliant performance last week in the national Novice, were without one of their stars, Fiona Kehoe, who was out due to injury and didn't have the numbers to make up a team, immediately throwing the race wide open.
It was no surprise, however, that the individual gold went once again to Kilmore's Jackie Carthy in a time of 21 minutes and 23 seconds. The silver went to Emily O'Connor of Slaney Olympic, who has had a fine season and was part of Wexford's national Novice team in Dungarvan the previous Sunday.
Third place went to another Slaney athlete, Catherine Murphy, who came in just 25 seconds behind her team-mate, ensuring that Slaney were on for the gold team prize. With Kelly Long and Mag Dunphy in support, Slaney Olympic not only took the county title, they also took silver team medals with Alison Storey, Esther O'Connor, Sabina Sweeney and Ciara O'Connor all scoring for the second team.
The men's race over 10k saw 49 athletes on the line at starter's orders. Both Ger Forde of Slaney Olympic and S.B.R's Tom Hogan were the favourites and did not disappoint. In increasingly tough underfoot conditions, Hogan pulled clear and retained his Wexford Senior cross-country title for 2015, crossing the line in a time of 36.30, ahead of Forde in second place in 37.10.
The 2013 title-holder, Niall Sheil of St. Killian's, took the bronze medal in 37.25. Behind Niall, the S.B.R. pack were at their strongest and once again were crowned Wexford Senior cross-country team champions, with Tom Hogan, Noel Kennedy, Paul Lynch, Trevor Conroy, Myles Gibbons and Tommy McElwaine scoring 37 points.
The silver team prize went to the Slaney Olympic group of Ger Forde, Martin Monaghan, Dave Barron, Billy Reck, David Kehoe and Jim Stafford on 72 points. United Striders continued their progress of recent years by taking bronze with the scoring team being John McGrath, Ted Flannelly, Seán Murphy, Pat O'Callaghan, Matt Flannelly and Paul Doran on 89 points.
This was the last event in the Athletics Wexford 2015 calendar, however there will be only a short break with the Masters being in action over the country on the first Sunday in January, coupled with the Juvenile cross-country relay championships.
Athletics Wexford wishes all athletes throughout the 17 clubs in the county a very happy Christmas and looks forward to seeing everyone in the new year, refreshed and ready to get back into competition. Who knows what successes 2016 will bring for Wexford?