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Tuesday 19 November 2019

Cross-country up and running

Adamstown club hosts Juvenile and Novice events

Ladies’ Novice top three (from left): Beth O’Connor (second), Angie Redmond (first), Esther O’Leary (second)
Ladies’ Novice top three (from left): Beth O’Connor (second), Angie Redmond (first), Esther O’Leary (second)
Claragh Keane of D.M.P., the Under-16 girls’ champion

Adamstown A.C. hosted the Mr Oil Wexford Juvenile (even ages) and Novice cross-county championships on Sunday in scenic Ballyeden, Davidstown, with Bree Hill as a backdrop.

Solid banks of cloud and an unrelenting cross-course breeze kept temperatures on the cooler side, but other than that it was a fine day for running. The going was very firm with the ground still to regain much of the pliancy given up to the long hot summer.

The action commenced with the younger age categories. Lea Bolger (Bree) won the girls' Under-10 race from Áine Crean (Adamstown) in second, Saoirse Flanagan (D.M.P.) in third, and Kayleigh Butler in fourth.

Jayden Kenny (Bree) won the boys' Under-10 race from Tomás Brennan (Enniscorthy) in second, Enda Byrne (S.B.R.) third, and Aidan Bowe (S.B.R.) fourth.

Sarah Phylan (Enniscorthy) took the Under-12 title ahead of Éabha Keane (D.M.P.) in second, Rayna Thompson (Kilmore) third, and Emma McCarthy (St. Killian's) fourth. D.M.P. took team gold (twelve points), with Éabha backed up by Aoife Walsh in fifth place and Sarah O'Mahony in sixth.

Indeed, the club packed really well as they had another two girls (both scoring on the 'B' team) in the top twelve, namely Nicole Lagan (tenth) and Emma Barrett (twelfth).

Rayna Thompson led Kilmore to silver team medals (22 points), with Katie Foley in eighth and Ava Barry eleventh. D.M.P 'B' took the bronze (39 points) just ahead of S.B.R. in fourth place.

D.M.P's Kevin O'Mahony gave a real virtuoso performance in winning the boys' Under-12 race. The ten-year-old, who does not turn eleven until December, is a joy to watch such is his powerful, yet relaxed, running style.

The fact that he is as happy running cross-country in winter as he is competing in sprints and long jump in summer shows that he is blessed with great versatility to go with a winning can-do attitude.

Eoin Hannon of United Striders was second, Ross English (Adamstown) third and Ronan Shannon (U.S.) fourth. Striders, with four in the top ten, only needed three to take team gold (twelve points), with Hannon and Shannon backed up by Keelan Ryan in eighth.

D.M.P. took the silver (24 points), Adamstown the bronze (27 points), and Enniscorthy were fourth just one point behind.

Kilmore made it a 1-2-3 in the Under-14 girls 3,000m with Freya and Arwyn Thompson taking gold and silver respectively, and Kate O'Flaherty in third. This fine collaborative and co-operative effort, something we are more used to seeing among the Kenyans on the Grand Prix circuit, meant that the girls also took home gold team medals.

Ellie O'Mahoney, stealing in to nab fourth spot with her final lunge, helped ensure D.M.P. took the runner-up spot just two points ahead of Adamstown in third. Adamstown's three scorers, in fifth, sixth and twelfth places, were Gráinne, Niamh and Isobel English.

The boys' Under-14 race was dominated from the start by Myles Hewlett of United Striders. Myles had a fabulous summer season with All-Ireland gold in 1,500m and silver in 800m, and P.B's in both, one of them a C.B.P.

Although unchallenged in this race, he showed why he is top of his game with an exhibition performance that combined ergonomic efficiency with speed endurance. Myles' closest pursuer from early on was brother Cosmo.

Content to run at a more conservative pace, he had sufficient in the tank to stay in the silver medal position ahead of fast-finishing clubmate Eoin Shannon. Indeed, Striders filled nine of the top ten positions with D.M.P's James Hegarty, in fifth place, spoiling their efforts at a clean sweep.

Not surprisingly, Striders' 'A', 'B' and 'C' teams took all three sets of medals on six, seven and 27 points respectively.

The audience was treated to a tour de force performance in the girls' Under-16 race which matched that of the previous race. Claragh Keane of D.M.P. put down an early season marker that she is back to her best as she galloped away from the field.

Her easy yet fast-moving stride hides a lethal and punishing fire-power. The Menapians duo of Eimear Halpin and Ciara Dolan were happy to battle it out for the minor placings, with Eimear ultimately easing away to take the silver and Ciara settling for the bronze. Aoibhinn Crean of Adamstown placed fourth.

The boys' Under-16 race was, from early on, a two-horse race between new United Striders member Ben Wall and Joe Byrne of S.B.R. It was nip and tuck up to the final few hundred metres when Ben put the head down, and bolted for the line to claim the county title.

Joe, graceful as always whether winning or not, had to settle for the silver. Adam O'Connor (United Striders) was third while Ronan Griffin (D.M.P.) placed fourth.

Striders took the team title (nine points) with Robert Wall, in fifth, the third scorer. Kilmore took the runner-up spot on 30 points.

The ladies' Novice and Under-18 races were run off together. Under-18 athlete Mairéad Crean of Adamstown, running on home turf, took it out from the start and, by the end of the first lap, had opened up a small lead.

Novice runners Beth O'Connor and Sandra Young (both United Striders) plus Angie Redmond and Esther O'Leary (both Slaney Olympic) traded places as they worked to stay in touch.

Mairéad stretched her lead over the three laps and take the Under-18 title, while Angie Redmond broke away from the pursuing group to take the Novice title ahead of Beth O'Connor in second and Esther O'Leary in third.

The Striders duo of Rebecca Bawden and Gráinne Flannelly were second and third in the Under-18 race. The Novice team title went to United Striders (23 points), just ahead of Slaney Olympic in second (26 points), with S.B.R. in third (37 points).

The boys' Under-18 race was won in some style by Conor Keane (D.M.P.). Conor, looking fit and totally untroubled, built up an unassailable lead over the chasing Striders duo of Aaron Browne and Cian Flanagan.

Aaron pulled away from his clubmate in the final stages to take silver, leaving Cian in the bronze medal position. Striders took the team title (ten points).

A big field toed the line in the final race, the Novice men's 6k. By the end of lap one of the 1k loop, and running into an ever-strengthening head-wind, a small lead group opened up a margin on the well spread-out field.

As the race progressed this group, consisting of the D.M.P. trio of Junior athlete Liam Turner, Paul Flanagan and John Stone, along with George Delaney of United Striders, continued to build on their advantage. Into the final lap and Liam dropped off the pace. Just before the bend for home, Flanagan seized the initiative and went on to the take the title, with Stone four seconds back in second and Delaney in third.

D.M.P's massive strength in depth (six in top twelve) meant they were a shoe-in for the gold on 14 points, with Liam Turner in fourth and Liam Collins in seventh completing the scoring quartet.

George Delaney led Striders to team silver (49 points) while S.B.R. were third (53 points).

The Mr Oil County Wexford Senior and Juvenile (uneven ages) cross-country championships take place next Sunday, October 14, at JFK Park & Arboretum, New Ross. Athletes love running on this stunningly situated parkland course as, despite the low gradient inclines, there is plenty of fast running.

Kilmore's Fiona Kehoe will be hoping to defend her Senior ladies' title as well as helping the club retain the team title. Ger Forde of St. Killian's is the man to beat in the Senior men's race. United Striders will be hoping to deny S.B.R's efforts to retain the men's team title.

Host club United Striders asks clubs to get there in good time and to follow the instructions of stewards. The action starts at 12 noon sharp with non-championship Under-9 races. The ladies' race will not start before 2 p.m.

Other fixtures: October 13, Irish Life Health All-Ireland Schools combined events, Athlone; October 27, Leinster Juvenile cross-country (even ages), Navan Adventure Sports at Navan Racecourse; October 28, A.A.I. National Marathon Championships held in conjunction with Dublin City Marathon.

Wexford People