The South Leinster Schools Cross Country took place last week on the grounds of Good Counsel College, New Ross. The event was organised by Presentation Secondary School Wexford with assistance from St. Joseph’s A.C. and United Striders A.C.
On a perfect day for running there were plenty of impressive individual performances on a course which, while flat, was still testing due to the surface cutting up and the tricky stride-breaking “s-bends”. Add in a few bumps and this would have been cross country running European style.
From a Wexford perspective, there was plenty to cheer about starting with Sinéad O’Reilly of Loreto Wexford, who lined up in the first race of the day, the Minor Girls 1500m. Feeling a bit under the weather she sensibly set off at a conservative pace and had enough in the tank in the latter stages for a Bronze medal-winning sprint finish. With her school-mates packing well – Eimear Halpin 6th, Caoilfhionn Ní Nualláin 15th – Loreto Wexford were top team. Aoibhínn Mernagh, Presentation Wexford, ran a fine race to place 7th while fellow Pres girl Ailbhe White was 13th. With top 15 automatically qualifying for the Leinsters next month, along with top three teams, the girls can all look forward to another day on the country.
In the Minor Boys the county’s top finisher was Jay Hogan, St Mary’s CBS, Enniscorthy (10th) with Darragh Breen, FCJ Bunclody, 12th, Tadhg Hayes, CBS Wexford, 14th and Joe Mernagh, St Peter’s Wexford 15th. The St Peter’s team were delighted to place 3rd and win Bronze medals.
Co Wexford schools packed really well in the Junior Girls race. Claragh Keane, Presentation Wexford, ran a controlled and well-paced race to place 5th. Expect her to build on this over the next month in preparation for the Leinsters. Danielle Griffin, St Mary’s, New Ross was just behind her in 6th with Elizabeth Gahan, Gorey Community School, in 7th. Eimear Fortune of Loreto Wexford, in 10th place was followed by three Presentation Wexford girls: Ciara Martin (11), Ciara Dolan (12) and Uisce Moroney (13). Presentation Wexford took team Silver.
Joe ‘Mudlark’ Byrne, competing in the colours of Gorey Community School, was a run-away winner of the Junior Boy’s race. Jack Dempsey, CBS Wexford, placed a good 9th with Ben Wall, Good Counsel, in 10th and Ryan Boland, Creagh College, Gorey in 13th. The St Peter’s team won Bronze.
The Intermediate Girls 3000m race saw a battle royal develop between Róisín O’Reilly, Loreto Wexford and Hannah O’Keefe, Loreto Kilkenny. A lead group of four was whittled down to two on the second of two laps with Hannah leading out Róisín. Midway through the lap the Wexford girl surged and opened a gap of 10-12 metres. O’Keefe inched her way back and, sneaking up the inside, grand prix-style, on one of the final bends she opened a small gap on Róisín. To her credit the Loreto Wexford girl responded and launched a last-ditch effort to haul her back in. Hannah, however, hung on to take the Gold with Róisín settling for Silver. In 3rd place was the experienced Áine Kirwan (Loreto Kilkenny). Eve Furlong, FCJ, Bunclody, placed 10th and Haley McCormack, St Mary’s, New Ross was 14th.
The always dependable Adam O’Connor, CBS New Ross, placed 8th in the Inter Boys race with the ever-improving Conor Keane, CBS Wexford, taking 10th spot. Cian Flanagan, Good Counsel, hung on to take the last of the top 15 qualification places.
St Mary’s New Ross had two girls qualifying for the Leinsters in the Senior Girls race with Eva Roche in 7th and Katie Murphy 15th. The school took team Bronze.
First Wexford boy home in the Senior race was the experienced Liam Turner, St Peter’s Wexford. He ran most of the race, without company, in 5th spot and, while he looked like threatening for 4th spot with a lap to go, he stayed in that position to the end. Liam had the pleasure of leading his team to the runner-up place on the podium behind the day’s overall top performing school, St Kieran’s of Kilkenny. Well done to Sky Moroney, St Peter’s, on his gutsy 10th place finish in the Senior race.