Sheil, Carthy shine
Masters leave mark on Lingstown
The Athletics Wexford Masters, Junior and Juvenile relay cross-country championships took place in a cold and very windy Lingstown on Sunday.
With solid underfoot conditions, the Junior ladies and Masters ladies kicked off the first championship event of 2015 on home ground. Racing over 4k, the field of competitors was almost double last year's, with 29 finishing.
The hot favourite, Kilmore's Jackie Carthy, led from gun to the line and was in terrific form throughout, adding the Masters county title for 2015 to her long list of victories. Coming strong behind to take the silver comfortably was Slaney Olympic's Catherine Murphy, coming back into her full strength in recent races. Slaney also took the bronze medal with Catherine Walsh close behind her team-mate.
The gold in the team event went to the Slaney Olympic team of Catherine Murphy (second), Catherine Walsh (third) and Emily O'Connor (fifth), but it was a very close result with the home team of Kilmore taking the silver on 15 points. The Kilmore team was Jackie Carthy (first), Helen Doyle (sixth) and Sinéad O'Brien (eighth). In third position was the Croghan team of Mary Kennedy (ninth), Deirdre Fortune (12th) and Ciara Jones (14th).
Individual age category medals were won by: Over-40, Helen Doyle (Kilmore); Over-50, Deirdre Fortune (Croghan); Over-55, Ann Sullivan (D.M.P.).
The Masters men ran 6k and it was a thrilling race from start to finish. With St. Killian's Niall Sheil the pre-race favourite, it looked like a shock could be on the cards when S.B.R's Paul Lynch took the lead and had Sheil, John McGrath (United Striders) and Martin 'Farmer' Monaghan in the chasing pack.
Looking comfortable throughout, even entering the last of the four laps, it looked like Lynch could have caused the upset of the season, until Sheil showed his true quality to push forward in the closing stages, bringing McGrath with him, hot on his heels, into the finish.
The final result saw Niall taking the county title with John taking the silver and Paul the bronze in one of the most thrilling cross-country races of the season.
The gold in the team event went to the Slaney team of 'Farmer', Jim Stafford and Dave Barron, with United Striders finishing on the same points, but knocked back into the silver medal position on countback - every place counts in cross-country team scoring.
The Striders scoring team was John McGrath, Ted Flannelly and Pat O'Callaghan. The bronze in the team event went to the S.B.R. team of Paul Lynch, Tommy McElwain and Myles Gibbons.
In the age categories the following won individual county titles: Martin 'Farmer' Monaghan (Slaney Olympic), Over-40; Ted Flannelly (United Striders), Over-45; Ger Maloney (St. Paul's), Over-50; Jim Stafford, Over-55; Tom Kavanagh (S.B.R.), Over-65; Billy Harpur (S.B.R.), Over-70.
In the Junior races there was a disappointing turn-out of athletes once again, with only two Junior ladies competing over the 4k course and only one Junior man finishing the 6k. United Striders took the two county titles with Helena Browne finishing ahead of Adamstown's Annalise Crean in the ladies' race and Ethan Anderson taking victory in a time of 24.02.
The Juvenile relay championships saw huge numbers in all of the younger age groups and strong competition in each race. In the Under-10 girls, running 4 x 250m, S.B.R. took gold ahead of Adamstown and St. Paul's in third. The boys' Under-10 race saw D.M.P. take the gold followed by St. Paul's and Adamstown in bronze medal position.
The Under-12s also ran 4 x 250m and in the girls' race the gold went to S.B.R., silver to D.M.P. and bronze to United Striders. In the Under-12 boys, United Striders took gold ahead of Menapians in second position and Adamstown in third.
The distance increased for the Under-14s to 4 x 500m and St. Paul's were gold medal winners, with Menapians winning silver followed by Taghmon in third. The Under-14 boys saw another victory for United Striders, followed by S.B.R. and Menapians in third.
In the Under-16 4 x 500m girls, Adamstown won gold ahead of two United Striders teams which took silver and bronze. The boys' race saw Craanford Harriers finish strongly to take victory ahead of United Striders in a very evenly-matched race.
This event concludes the cross-country season in Co. Wexford, with a few Leinster and national events still to take place. Dates for the road race season will be set at the next Co. Board meeting following this week's A.G.M. which will take place in The Bailey in Enniscorthy at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, January 14. All clubs are reminded that they should send their full voting contingency to the A.G.M.