For the second weekend in a row DMP AC hosted championship cross country running at Orristown, Killinick. The unseasonably balmy weather made for perfect running conditions with the course bone-dry throughout. With club banners and flags flapping in the light breeze there was a real festive air to the event. There was even a horsebox selling hot tea and coffee along with genuine homemade traybrakes.
The decision to run the Intermediate races before the underage races meant an earlier start and, at the other end, an earlier finish.
The women’s Intermediate 4000 metres race opened proceedings. DMP’s Claire Barrett grabbed the race by the scruff of the neck early on and opened up a small gap on the field. Only Belinda Kehoe of SBR was prepared to go after her but Claire’s relentless pace meant that there was only ever going to be one winner. Claire went on to stretch her lead and to take the title in a time of 16.56 minutes. Belinda was second in 17.48 while the fast-finishing Kate Murphy of United Striders took the bronze (18.08). Striders packed very well behind Katie, with Mary Sinnott 4th, Sandra Young 5th and Sinéad Cullen 9th. This was just enough to give them the team title (21 points). SBR with 2nd, 6th, 7th and 8th were just two points behind in second. Slaney Olympic were third.
The Men’s Intermediate 8,000 metre race, five times around the large lap, was a competitive affair from the start. A breakaway group, which included Liam Collins (DMP), Alan O’Connor, Scott James and Colin Carney (all United Striders) and Kevin Morris (Croghan), set out with serious intent. The snappy pace and the fast yet deceptively testing course took its toll as the race progressed leaving just O’Connor and Collins to battle it out for the victor’s spoils. The Striders man, however, appeared, at all times, to be in control, always to the fore as if saying to Collins “if you want it you are going to have to work for it”. And when Liam did eventually crack, Alan felt the wind in his sails and he took full advantage. He crossed the finish line in a time of 29.46 with Liam arriving 50 seconds later (30.36) to take the silver. Scott James was all on his own in third place (31.02). Colin Carney in 4th and John Byrne 7th ensured that Striders took team gold (15 points). And, for good measure, with Pat Culleton 8th, Pat Callaghan 9th, Thomas Harrington 11th and Thomas Moran 12th, they also took silver (40 points). SBR were third with 47 points.
The underage programme started with the non-championship under 9 races. To see the determination with which athletes in both the boy’s and the girl’s races summoned hidden reserves on the sprint for home and how they flung themselves across the line suggests that we may have some very hungry-for-glory athletes coming through in the years ahead. So much for keeping the competitive element out of athletics in an athlete’s younger years! Adamstown athletes were first across the line in both races, Grace White in the girl’s and Joe Breen in the boy’s.
There was a very tight finish in the under 11 girl’s race with victory going to Samhradh Ní Thoibín of Croghan, silver to Alannah Flanagan of DMP and bronze to Lily O’Callaghan of Adamstown. Kilmore AC took team gold with DMP second.
Seán Power of DMP followed up his third place in last weekend’s under 12 race with a comfortable win in the boy’s under 11 race. Seán Gahan, Craanford AC, was second and Billy Carney, United Striders, third. With Seán in 1st place, Cian Hopkins in 4th and Orán Ennis 5th, DMP won the team title (10 points). United Striders were second and Adamstown third.
The girls under 13 2,500 metres race was possibly the most exciting of the day. One thing was certain from early on: Laragh Walsh of Menapians was going to be some way involved in determining how the race unfolded. Mid race it was Laragh v Saoirse Flanagan of DMP with, close behind, Hannah Carney (United Striders), Ruby Gallagher O’Reilly (Croghan), Grace Goggins (DMP), Kayleigh Butler (Taghmon) and Cara Murphy (St Killian’s). Into the final lap and Laragh had 20 metres on Saoirse and, just behind, her clubmate Grace. Laragh built on her lead and looked to have it in the bag. Except no one told the DMP girls. Into the latter stages and up the finish straight they were closing rapidly on the leader. Saoirse, in particular, hit the turbo button and with every stride was eating into Laragh’s lead. What looked very close to a dead heat at the finish line went the way of Laragh with a very gutsy Saoirse taking the runner up spot. Right on their tails in the bronze medal position was Grace Goggins who, fourth the previous weekend in the under 14 race, once again showed true grit in how she stuck to the task at hand. Taghmon and Croghan both finished on 27 points with victory, adjudged on placings, going to Taghmon. Kilmore were third.
In the under 13 boy’s race, Kilmore’s Conor Hancock led it out in the early stages with Enda Byrne and Aidan Bowe, both SBR, close behind. Into the second lap Conor still had 5 metres on Enda with Aidan 20 metres further back and Seán Halpin (Kilmore), Oisín Ennis (DMP) and Artem Kelly (St Paul’s) behind him. By the start of the final lap Enda was in the lead while Conor, paying for his early enthusiasm, was relegated to second. It stayed that way all the way to the finish, Aidan Bowe taking the bronze. Artem Kelly showed a fine turn of speed in the home straight to move up to 4th spot ahead of Aaron Hancock. SBR on 14 points had a single point lead on Kilmore in second. DMP placed third.
The main feature of note in the girls under 15 3500 metres race was the dominance of DMP. Nicole Lageu (DMP) tore off at the start and opened a gap on the peleton. She was quickly reeled in by the pack with Rayna Thompson (Kilmore) and Emma McCarthy (St Killian’s) to the fore. In the penultimate lap DMP’s Aoife Walsh eased away with only Emma looking like she might challenge. By the time they hit the (imaginary) bell Aoife was into her stride and clear while Emma had been passed by Lucia Goggins (DMP) and clubmate Maria Coone. Maria leap-frogged past Lucia on the rise, Emma McCarthy working hard behind them. In the final few hundred metres, Lucia got a second wind and reclaimed her second place spot and held it to the finish. Maria stayed on for third. 1-2-3 placings, the equivalent of 180 in darts, ensured that DMP took the team title (6 points). The club’s strength in depth saw them also taking the silver (22 points). Kilmore were a point behind in third (23 points).
Max Murphy of United Striders won the under 14 title with ease the previous weekend. This time out he did the same in the under 15 race. File this one under ‘Sunday stroll’! DMP duo Shane Doyle and Billy Carroll ran most of the race side by side. Shane blitzed away at the end to take the runner up spot with Billy placing third. DMP took the team title.
Olivia Garnett of DMP led out a very relaxed pace under 17 girls 4000 metres. She was quickly (relatively speaking!) swallowed up by the chasing pack. Three athletes – Abbey Wolohan and Sophia Tkacheva, both Croghan, and Emma Hannon of United Striders moved ahead. Abbey, second the previous weekend in the under 16 race, took the win with Sophia taking silver and Emma bronze. With a total of seven points, Croghan won the team title. United Striders on 17 points placed second.
The under 17 boys 5000 metres was won with ease by the in-form Myles Hewlett of United Striders. Clubmate Seán Lennon was a good second while Danny McDonald placed third.
Top marks to DMP for pulling out all the stops to provide two great days of athletics at Orristown (the Junior and even ages races were run off on the same course the previous Sunday). Thanks to the O’Mahonys for the use of the land and to Wexford Civil Defence for providing a crew for both meets. And we genuflect in humble gratification and awe before the DMP Baking Division – if this was Bake-Off and we did have to choose a winner it would be Éabha Keane for her awesome chocolate brownies.