A: Grange, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, Ireland | E: info@mullingarharriers.com

All-Ireland Schools XC Finals 2018

Thomas Barr (Olympic 400m hurdles 4th place) with some of the Mullingar girls in Waterford IT

We know from experience that it doesn’t take much for the cross country course in Waterford IT to turn into a mud bath and so it was no surprise that melting snow during the week and then heavy rain overnight turned the course into an absolute quagmire for the All-Ireland Schools Cross Country Finals in Waterford IT on Saturday 10th March. Blue skies and very mild weather couldn’t make up for the mud bath and there were some big surprises in the results and in many cases the form book was thrown out and some well favoured athletes just weren’t able to perform up to expectations.

There were a number of Mullingar athletes competing for their school teams but the stand out individual performance has to be a brilliant 2nd place finish by Amy Geoghegan (Mercy Kilbeggan) in the Minor Girls 2,000m in a very close race and thrilling finish with only seconds separating the top places. After his runaway victory in the Leinster schools, hopes were high for Diarmuid Fagan (Colaiste Mhuire) in the Minor Boys 2,500m but despite great effort he just couldn’t quite match that performance, though 12th place was still excellent at an All-Ireland final given the dreadful conditions.

Best of the Mullingar girls in the Junior Girls 2,500m was Phoebe Bate (Loreto Mullingar), followed by Meabh Killalea (Loreto) who didn’t want to let the team down and ran despite suffering with a throat infection, Bea Drummond (Athlone CC), Meghan Bates (Loreto) who had to go home from school the day before with a vomiting bug but also ran anyway as she didn’t want to let the team down, and Aoife McGouran (Loreto). Aoife had been going great but fell in the mud on the second lap, hit a fence and got run over and spiked, but being the determined girl we know she is, she jumped up and finished anyway, so as not to let the team down. The Loreto team finished a great 4th place, just out of the medals, but if Aoife hadn’t fallen and Meabh and Meghan had been in top form, the team would surely have finished in the medals, but they’re the trials of cross country racing! Lorcan Mullen (Cistercian Roscrea) had a great race in the Junior Boys 3,500m and finished an excellent 17th place for his efforts.

Among the Loreto Mullingar team that finished just out of the team medals in 5th place in the Intermediate Girls 3,500m was Caoimhe O’Brien, Karla Cunningham and Ciara Smith, all running very well and finishing strongly. Jennifer Fidgeon started but had to stop on the second lap due to illness and we wish her a speedy recovery. In the Intermediate Boys 5,000m there were good performances from Colin Smith (Colaiste Mhuire), Eoin Quinn (Colaiste Mhuire), Andrew Shaw (St. Finian’s College), Paul McCool (Colaiste Mhuire) and Kevin Martin (Colaiste Mhuire) but no individual or team medals this time.

The best team performance came in the final race, the Senior Boys 6,000m where a fantastic 4th place finish for Jamie Battle (Colaiste Mhuire) saw him lead the Colaiste Mhuire team to victory, thanks to great support and team packing that included fellow Mullingar Harriers members Ciaran Nolan, Jack Moran, Andrew Daly, Euan Lagan, John Whitelaw and Brian Martin.