Wexford's best unfazed by tough Waterford course
The Irish Life Health Novice & Juvenile (Uneven Ages) Cross Country Championships took place at the WIT Arena at Carriganore, Waterford last Sunday. While weather conditions were fine the course was quite sticky.
Add to that a few testing hills and this was a day that demanded strength and stamina as well, of course, as fleet-footedness.
Starting with the final race of the day, Ger Forde of Slaney Olympic ran out of his skin to finish an excellent sixth place.
A fine performance was on the cards as Ger has been having a really good cross country season - a win in the county championships and seventh in the Leinster Senior. Ger's clubmate Enda Cloake crossed the line wearily in 80th place.
In the Juvenile races three of the county's most consistent athletes this season came away with medals.
Myles Hewlett (United Striders AC) placed fifth in the boys under-13 2500m picking up, in the process, an individual medal and a gold team medal with Leinster.
Following today's performance, Myles ends the year with his athletics c.v. significantly enhanced as a result of a stellar season.
He started the year winning gold at both the Wexford and Leinster Cross Country relays. On the track he won a Leinster silver medal over 600m. He started the current cross country season with a win in the County Cross Country.
Then at the Leinster Championships in Navan last October he won a silver medal behind clubmate Aidan Shannon, while also picking up gold team medals with both USAC and the county team. He went on to pick up another individual silver in the Leinster under-13 race in Adamstown, in the process leading both club and county to silver team medals.
Last month he placed 12th in the All-Ireland under-14 cross country at Abbotstown. Myles deserves a medal for consistency!
Claragh Keane (DMP AC) showed great fortitude and resolve in placing eighth in the girls under-15 3500m (note: that's a not-insignificant number of metres when you lay them end to end over sticky, hilly conditions!).
At the beginning of the year she won the under-13 1500m at the All-Ireland 'B' championships. She started the current season with a win at the county cross country, followed by fifth place in the Leinster under-15 race and third in the Leinster under-14s.
There was no doubt at this stage that she was into something of a purple patch.
Then she ran All-Ireland under-14 cross country and placed 27th. This was not quite what she would have been hoping for.
Last Sunday's result suggests that her under-14 run was a temporary blip in what has been a really good season.
The third of the country's three medal-winning Musketeers is the indefatigable Joe Byrne of SBR AC.
Last Sunday, Joe placed sixth in the boys under-15 3500m. As with Myles and Claragh, nobody is surprised at this result as Joe has been looking good all season - a facile win in the county championships, second in the Leinsters and a win at the county schools cross country.
While the above may have come away with medals, a number of other Wexford athletes in the underage races placed well.
In the girls under-11, Éabha Keane (DMP) was happy to get through the experience unscathed as she finished with the pack.
In the boys under-13 race, Cosmo Hewlett (USAC) was 40th, James Hegarty (DMP) 47th, Eoin Shannon (USAC) 58th while David Kirwan, Robert Stirling, Ben Myers, Sean Lennon, Finbarr Kelly and Darragh Breen finished in the pack.
Moving up to under-15 boys, Ben Wall of Adamstown placed 40th and Aidan Shannon (USAC) was 43rd.
In the under-19 boys 6000m race Aedan Rogers (USAC) ran a good race to place 18th and, in the process, play his part in winning a gold medal for the Leinster team.
He was also a member of the winning provincial team in the under-18 race a few weeks back. Liam Turner (DMP) ran a solid race to finish 34th.
Leinster Star Awards for Maeve and Aaron
Congratulations to Maeve Hayes and Aaron Tierney Smith on being chosen as the recipients of a Leinster Star Award for best Juvenile Athlete for Co. Wexford, 2017.
Both will be presented with their awards at the Leinster Star Awards night in Tullamore on January 6, 2018.
Maeve Hayes started the year by winning, and retaining her titles, in high jump (1.58m PB) and long jump at the Leinster Indoor Championships (under-16).
During the year she achieved new bests in both events. She had the honour of representing Leinster at the Tailteann Games. The highlight of her summer was winning a bronze medal in the high jump at the national championships.
Aaron Tierney Smith's year got off to a winning start with a gold medal in 60m hurdles and a bronze in the 60m flat at the Leinster Junior Indoor Championships.
He also won the under-18 Leinster indoor 60m hurdles title.
At the national indoors he placed third in under-18 60m hurdles.
Moving outdoors he had a sprint double winning the Leinster under-18 100m hurdles (14.88s PB) and 200m (22.83s PB).
At the National Juvenile T&F Championships, Aaron won silver in the under-18 110m hurdles.
At the National Junior and U23 T&F Championships he took silver in the 110m hurdles. He then went on to compete at the International Celtic Track and Field Games in Dublin in August.
Date announced for re-scheduled Wexford Intermediate Cross Country - Mr Oil Wexford Intermediate Cross Country Championships, cancelled recently due to bad weather, will now take place in Wexford town on January 21 with the county masters and juvenile relays. The host club is Menapians AC.