AAI Masters, Inter & Juvenile “B” XC 2020 (8th Feb)
This year, like the General Election, the AAI National Masters, Intermediate and Juvenile “B” Cross Country Championships moved to a Saturday, 8th February, but that did not deter a large attendance. Held in the picturesque grounds of Avondale House, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow, race participants were greeted with a tough 2k looped course, which contained a very long steep climb and equally technical descent. To add to the challenge, there was also a very strong wind.
First into action was young Jack Geoghegan in the u/11 boys 1,000m where despite an early fall in the race and cutting both his knees, he got up and finished anyway and being underage again next year, the experience will certainly stand to him. Mullingar had a very strong team in the u/15 girls 2,500m. Illness robbed the team of a chance to show their talents at the AAI Juvenile Uneven Ages Cross Country before Christmas, so they were always going to feature strongly in the “B” Championship. With a fantastic surge in the finish straight, Grace Byrne gained significant ground to finish an excellent 3rd place. With great support from Jessica Cunningham, who stuck to her task and maintained 9th place throughout the race, and strong performances from Adele Geoghegan and Leah Geoghegan despite both being a little under the weather, the team packed well and the girls were delighted to finish 1st Club.
Taking on the challenging terrain, Aine O’Reilly led the Mullingar team home in the Master Women 4,000m finishing to the fore of a large field of more than 200 competitors. Áine was followed in by Breda Daly, Michelle O’Halloran, Maura Dervin, Emer O’Hanlon, Linda Cunningham, Patricia Broderick, Brigid McCabe, Eileen Kenny, and Caroline Mullen. The younger master women team of Aine, Breda, Michelle and Linda were unlucky to finish out of the medals in a very competitive race. Having come up just short of a podium finish in each of the last four years the older master women team was determined to bring home medals this year. Running together for much of the race Maura and Emer put in very strong performances, and backed up by Patricia, Brigid, Eileen and Caroline, the team accomplished its winter-long plan by finishing 3rd Club. To top off the success, Brigid and Eileen won their respective categories earning National gold medals.
The 4,000m race incorporated the Master Men 4,000m for the older master men where for the first time ever Mullingar fielded a team and they did us proud. Nicky McCabe, Sean McMullin and Pat Boyhan combined to finish 5th Club in a race that proved to be very popular attracting much larger than anticipated numbers.
There was a huge field of nearly 260 in the Master Men 7,000m where Pat Muldoon led the large Mullingar team home to finish well up in the individual rankings in his category. The same quartet who were third in last year’s competition were back in search of more National glory and some very strong running by Tom McGrath and Eddie Newman with surging finishes from David Fagan and Paul Ginnell ensured the Mullingar men a place on the podium again, repeating last year’s accomplishment of finishing 3rd Club. Determinedly working his way through the field after a tough start paid off for Eddie Newman, as he finished 3rd in his category.
The last race of the day was the Intermediate Men 8,000m where Andrew Nevin put in a very spirited race to bag a top ten finish. Supported by great efforts from James Keegan, Gerard Gavin, Pauric Brady, Hans De Raeymaeker and James Cribbin the Mullingar team finished a very respectable 5th Club in a race which this year had some tough competition from the Dublin Clubs. It is unfortunate that Mullingar is the only Club in Westmeath that put forward athletes to represent the county team but even with that disadvantage, the Mullingar men brought Westmeath home as 4th County overall, just outside the National medals.
We were unable to field a team in the Intermediate Women 5,000m race due to much of the senior women team being ineligible, having won the title last year. The Club hopes to grow the squad and anybody interested in running with the Club should make contact or make further inquiries at our training nights.