Young McEl­hin­ney is al­ready blaz­ing a trail

Irish Examiner - County - - Sport - JOhNXWalShe

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.

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