Young McElhinney is already blazing a trail
Although he only celebrated his 18th birthday the previous weekend, for Bantry AC athlete Darragh McElhinney, November saw him honoured with the Cork City Sports Athlete of the Month Award for a third time.
The award was in recognition of his victory in the Irish Life Health National junior cross-country race where he finished six seconds clear of James Battle over the 6km course.
Recalling that day at the National Sports Campus at A b b o t t s t o w n , D a r r a g h e x plained how the race panned out: “It went as well as I could really hoped. I had planned to go the front after about 2km, but the way the race went, it set it up nicely for that. Two lads strung the race out, so when I took the lead I was able to hold on.”
That was only Darragh’s third cross-country race of the season, having won the Cork County junior title at White’s Cross followed by the Autumn Cross-Country Festival, also at Abbottstown.
“After that, I went back to base training for five weeks before the Europeans and I was delighted with my 16th position there.
“I was 39th the year before, so I was pleased to progress. I was happy with the way I ran; I left it all on the line there. The course was narrow and when you went into the woods you had 500 or 600 metres where you had little chance of passing people, so I went out fast, you wouldn’t want to be back in 40th for the first couple of laps.”
After his performance at Tilburg in Holland where he led the Irish junior team to fifth place, McElhinney has now been selected to represent Europe in the U20 Mixed Relay at the Simply Health Great Stirling C-C in Scotland.
“It was in the background of my mind going into the race. I knew there was a possibility of getting selected if the race did go to plan and they [selectors] came up to me afterwards and asked me to think about it.
“The fact that it is only a 1500m leg made it all the more appealing..”
This is an import year for McElhinney as he prepares to sit his Leaving Cert in the summer.
“There are a lot of races between January and March so I’ll probably have to sit down with my coach and prioritise what I want to do and focus on those races.”
At the River Lee Hotel, Darragh McElhinney, Bantry AC, received the Cork City Sports Athlete of the Month Award for November.