The 123.ie All-Ireland Schools Cross Country returned last Saturday to the SETU sports grounds in Carriganore, Waterford. The day dawned gloomy and wet with a persistent drenching rain and finished in glorious sunshine. A course which, with its punishing ascents, was challenging to start with was made even tougher as the top surface turned to gloop. The joys of cross country running!
Claragh Keane of Presentation Wexford has been one of the county’s most consistent underage performers all the way through her teenage years. Competing in her final schools’ cross country event she once again showed the doggedness and tenacity that have marked her out as one the country’s top up-and-coming distance runners. Competing in the senior girls’ 3,500 metres race, Claragh was not tempted to go with the fast early pace. This was a sensible decision on a day when conditions were so trying and the nature-induced attrition rate so high. Claragh was sitting around 8th or 9th going into the final lap and looking strong. Her big reserves of strength came to the fore as she eased her way past some of the early pace-setters, especially on the final ascent of the short steep mid-lap bank. She got up to 4th place, her eyes very much on 3rd placed Avril Millerick. The finish, however, came too soon for her and she crossed the line in 4th. Fine run.
Emma Hickey representing St Mary’s New Ross also delivered a big run in the junior girls’ race. Never too far from the front, Emma dealt very well with the tough conditions and finished strongly in a medal-winning 12th place, less than half a minute behind the winner. Lily Ryan, Holy Faith Rosbercon, placed 32nd.
Maria Coone, Loreto Wexford, who won the Leinster Indoor under 17 walk the previous weekend, signed off on her cross country season with a solid 26th place in the inter girls’ race. Myles Hewlett, New Ross CBS, was 26th in the senior boys’ race. Kyle Bolger, Good Counsel New Ross, was 47th in the minor boys’ race.