Mark and Angie on song
Stunning upland setting for cross-country tests
SLIABH BUI Rovers A.C. hosted the Mr Oil Intermediate cross-country championships on Sunday. The event was held in a stunning upland setting just outside the village of Ferns in the townland of Newtown, the same course as was used for last year’s county Senior championships.
One had views of Carrig Rue Hill off to one side, Sliabh Buí in the middle, and over towards Kilrush the haunted Cnoc na Croiche or Gibbet Hill. Over to the west was the familiar outline of Mount Leinster and the Blackstairs - God’s own country.
The course, just under one mile around, was laid out on the side of a moderate-gradient hill, meaning that athletes started each lap with a fast downhill and faced a corresponding uphill stretch towards the end of each lap. Overall, there were plenty of opportunities for fast running, especially as underfoot conditions were very firm throughout.
There was a small field for the women’s 4k race. Beth O’Connor (United Striders), Lillian Lawless (S.B.R.) and Angela Redmond (Slaney Olympic) got away from the rest of the field early and ran together through the first lap of three.
Into the second lap and Angela waited until the hill before pushing the turbo button and opening a ten-metre lead on the other two. Angela, the current Wexford Novice champion, pushed ahead with good determination on the final lap although Beth, in getting ahead of Lillian on the final hill, tried valiantly to reel her back in.
At the end, however, the Slaney Olympic runner ran on strongly and had a good 40-metre lead on Beth who had around the same again on Lillian.
Beth, backed up by Sonya Byrne, Anastasia Cash and Aine Cullen, had the pleasure of leading United Striders to the team title, the club scoring 20 points (2, 3, 5, 9) ahead of Slaney Olympic on 25 (1, 6, 8, 10).
A big field lined out for the men’s 8k race. The downhill start and the flat stretch across the bottom of the course meant that the field was fairly well bunched together for much of the first lap.
Once they hit the hill, however, a group of eleven led by Brendan Lyng (U.S.) and Mark Poole (Croghan) opened a gap on the field, with Striders’ Paul Doran running in the no-man’s land between the two groups.
The next time they hit the hill, Lyng and Brian Maher (Croghan) were leading it out with Poole tucked in behind them. A few paces back were George Delaney (U.S.), the two D.M.P. athletes John Murphy and John Stone, Brian O’Shaughnessy of St. Killian’s and, hanging on for dear life, Alex Williams (Croghan). Then it was 20 metres back to Billy Reck (Slaney Olympic), and another five metres to Paul Doran, now in tenth place.
Into lap three and the top eight had tightened up again, with Lyng and Poole controlling the pace. Doran, still in no-man’s land, was now in ninth place, well clear of his pursuers, led by Will Doyle (Slaney Olympic), and nibbling away at the gap between himself and the leading group.
On the fourth of the six laps, Brendan Lyng and Mark Poole finally did what they had been threatening to do and pulled clear of the others, with D.M.P’s John Murphy just about staying in touch 15 metres back and, ten metres behind him, a group of four: Delaney, O’Shaughnessy, and the Croghan duo Maher and Williams.
There was a small gap then back to John Stone who was working hard to keep in touch and could sense the relentless Doran bearing down.
On the penultimate lap, the two leaders, each taking turns in front, extended their lead. George Delaney, having overtaken John Murphy, was now on his own in third place.
Murphy, meanwhile, was now keeping company with Maher, Williams and O’Shaughnessy. And all the while Paul Doran was sticking doggedly to his task, easing past a tiring John Stone on the downhill into eighth place. On the team front, Croghan were packing very well, but so too were United Striders.
The leading two were still locked together at the bell, with Delaney still their closest pursuer. It was around this time that those not already tuned into Paul Doran’s slow-burn strategy sat up and paid attention as the Striders man galloped past the two Croghan lads, with Delaney in his sights.
Along the bottom stretch Poole stole a march on Lyng and put a sliver of daylight between them. Having shown his hand, anything other than complete commitment and he was brown bread. Yet Lyng held the gap to a few metres.
Finally, at the top of the hill and into the home straight, with both giving it everything, Poole gained another couple of metres. Again Lyng responded and regained the lost metres.
The Croghan man kept it together and held on for a hardfought win, with Lyng taking the silver. Next came the master strategist himself, Paul Doran, who got his timing just right as he relegated his clubmate, George Delaney, to fourth spot.
Alex Williams finishing in fifth place and Brian Maher in sixth meant that Croghan were definitely in the hunt for the team title, notwithstanding favourites Striders finishing with three in the top four.
D.M.P’s John Murphy stayed on for seventh ahead of Brian O’Shaughnessy in eighth and his fellow clubman, John Stone, in ninth.
There was a gap then to Slaney duo Will Doyle in tenth and John Foley eleventh. First athlete home for the host club, S.B.R., was Denis Moynihan in twelfth spot.
Striders’ next scorer was Seán Murphy in 14th place. That was good enough to give them 23 points, and the title, ahead of Croghan on 30 points. D.M.P. placed third with 50 points.
Full credit to S.B.R. for hosting the races and to Vesty O’Neill for the use of his lands. If only all cross-country courses could be like this!
Women’s 4k: 1, Angie Redmond (Slaney Olympic), 17.47; 2, Beth O’Connor (United Striders), 17.55; 3, Lillian Lawless (S.B.R.), 18.12; 4, Sonya Byrne (United Striders), 19.13; 5, Anastasia Cash (United Striders), 19.30; 6, Marie Kinsella (Slaney Olympic), 21.25; 7, Majella Boland (Croghan), 22.44; 8, Annis Kehoe (Slaney Olympic), 22.38; 9, Aine Cullen (United Striders), 22.43; 10, Ester O’Leary (Slaney Olympic), 27.30.
Teams: 1, United Striders (2, 4, 5, 9), 20 points; 2, Slaney Olympic (1, 6, 8, 10), 25 points.
Men’s 8k: 1, Mark Poole (Croghan), 28.48; 2, Brendan Lyng (United Striders), 28.52; 3, Paul Doran (United Striders), 29.18; 4, George Delaney (United Striders), 29.22; 5, Alex Williams (Croghan), 29.24; 6, Brian Maher (Croghan), 29.30; 7, John Murphy (D.M.P.), 29.36; 8, Brian O’Shaughnessy (St. Killian’s), 29.48; 9, John Stone (D.M.P.), 30.04; 10, Will Doyle (Slaney Olympic), 30.14; 11, John Foley (Slaney Olympic), 30.19; 12, Denis Moynihan (S.B.R.), 30.26; 13, Liam Collins (D.M.P.), 30.30; 14, Seán Murphy (United Striders), 30.38; 15, Pat Murray (United Striders), 30.42; 16, Billy Reck (Slaney Olympic), 30.49; 17, David Leonard (S.B.R.), 31.06; 18, Derek Malone (Croghan), 31.14; 19, Jessie O’Connor (Slaney Olympic), 31.28; 20, Dara Cloake (S.B.R.), 31.26; 21, Brendan Radford (D.M.P.), 31.28; 22, Thomas Kavanagh (S.B.R.), 31.31; 23, Michael O’Flaherty (Kilmore), 31.32; 24, Niall O’Connor (S.B.R.), 31.48; 25, Jim O’Malley (S.B.R.), 32.13; 26, Fabian Flood (United Striders), 32.26; 27, Paul Brown (Slaney Olympic), 33.12; 28, Michael Quigley (Slaney Olympic), 35.33; 29, Adrian Reville (Kilmore), 37.05; 30, Emmet Malone (United Striders), 37.35; 31, Ger Murphy (Slaney Olympic), 42.44.
Teams: 1, United Striders (2, 3, 4, 14), 23 points; 2, Croghan (1, 5, 10, 18), 30 points; 3, D.M.P. (7, 9, 13, 21), 50 points .
The final leg of the Wexford winter league was held in Enniscorthy Sportshub on Friday. On a fine, cool evening, ideal for fast running, there was plenty at stake with a number of athletes aiming to win their third of three races and receive a coveted star award.
In the inter-club competition, United Striders were vying to hold on to the best overall club title, while the Enniscorthy girls were aiming to win the best girls’ club title for the first time.
Almost two hundred athletes took part, many no doubt motivated by the prospect of being rewarded with a medal for achieving a one hundred per cent participation rate. Thirteen athletes won Star Awards as follows, with an impressive seven of those running in the blue of Bree.
Girls: Under-8, Ava Wilson (Bree); Under-10, Lea Bolger (Bree); Under-11, Emma McCarthy (St. Killian’s); Under-12, Sarah Phylan (Enniscorthy); Under-13, Abbie Doyle (Bree); Under-14, Orlaith Deegan (S.B.R.); Under-15, Eimear Halpin (Menapians).
Boys: Under-8, T.J. Murphy (United Striders); Under-9, Shane Laffan (Bree); Under-10, Jayden Kenny (Bree); Under-11, Cian Donovan (Bree); Under-12, Kevin O’Mahony (D.M.P.); Under-15, Conor Doyle (Bree).
United Striders retained the best overall club title, with this achievement very much underpinned by some great performances by their boys. It was no surprise then that the Striders secured the best overall boys’ team prize.
Enniscorthy were the winners of the best overall girls’ team award, their first time winning a club prize in the winter league.
Over one hundred athletes from eleven different clubs took part in all three legs of the league, all of whom will receive their medals in the next few weeks.
The Mr Oil Wexford secondary schools cross-country due to take place last week at Good Counsel College, New Ross, was postponed due to poor weather. The event will now take place in January.
The next big event on the Irish cross-country calendar is the Irish Life Health Novice and Juvenile (uneven ages) championships in Navan on December 15.
The A.A.I. 20k/30k walks championships take place in St. Anne’s Park, Raheny, on December 8.
The European cross-country championships are in Tilburg, Netherlands, on December 9.
The first three men (from left): Brendan Lyng (second), Mark Poole (first), Paul Doran (third).
The first three women (from left): Beth O’Connor (second), Angie Redmond (first), Lillian Lawless (third).
Jayden Kenny (Bree) receiving his Star Award from John Joe Doyle.