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

AAI National Senior, Junior & Juvenile Even Ages XC 2022 (20th Nov)


All-Ireland Cross Country Honours in Donegal

As expected, the standard of competition at the AAI National Senior, Junior & Juvenile Even Ages Cross Country in Donegal on Sunday 20th November was extremely high and everyone had to be on the top of their game to win individual or team honours. As the senior races were also trials for the European Cross Country Championships to be held in Turin, Italy in December there was a lot at stake for our senior men in particular. The highlight performances included Jack O’Leary placing sixth senior man and Jamie Battle placing fourth u/23 man, and while these performances might see them both just miss selection for Turin, they really gave themselves every chance to qualify and they helped Mullingar to third Senior Club and first County in their grade. For our underage athletes, Cillian Galvin won an All-Ireland title, we had another top-12 finish place and a very close thirteenth place finish too, in addition to one set of team medals for Mullingar underage teams, two teams finished a close fourth place, and four medals were won with Leinster teams, making this a very good day of competition for Mullingar Harriers.

Despite very heavy rain in the days leading up to the event, underfoot conditions were absolutely perfect throughout the long programme of races because the course was laid out on a golf links so it had excellent drainage. It was very cold on the day, and there were occasional showers, but overall the weather was good for late November. The course laid out by the host club, Cranford AC, was truly excellent, being very spectator friendly and with good running throughout on a varied undulating course that proved very fast.

The first race of the day was the 2,000m for girls u/12 where Lily Walsh left nothing behind to turn in an excellent performance, finishing 13th overall, just outside the individual medal places but any disappointment soon turned to celebration when she learned that she had won a gold medal with the Leinster team in the Inter-Provincial competition. With great team packing and support from Chloe Bell, Shaynah Mitchell, Lucy Kilmurray, Amelie Kelly and Emily Tully the girls finished a very creditable 5th Club, not far off the medal places and a very good result against the best in Ireland. Sprinting out hard from the start of the 2,000m for boys u/12, Cillian Galvin took the early lead and never relinquished it to come home in first place to win a well-deserved All-Ireland title. Also running well in support was Antonio Bertolo, Harry Flanagan, Louis Kiernan, Seamus Clarke and Aonghus O’Reilly but the team finished out of the medal places, though Cillian led the Leinster team to third to win a bronze team medal.

Tianna O’Leary stormed through to a fantastic 8th place finish in the 3,000m for girls u/14, earning an individual medal and leading the Leinster team to third place to win a bronze team medal too. Also competing was Eleanor Kiernan, running strongly to the finish in a very competitive race. Mid-week illness robbed Conor Walsh of his best in the 3,000m for boys u/14 and with no Mullingar team in support it was always going to be a challenge to take something from the race. However, despite this he tried his very best but was unable to reproduce the form he showed in Leinster but we’re confident he’ll bounce back and is sure to make his mark in Cork in two weeks.

Ailbhe O’Farrell was Mullingar’s sole representative in the 4,000m for girls u/16 and even though she worked hard and put in as great effort finished out of the individual medal places and out of the medal places with the leinster team, but will have taken a lot from competing at an All-Ireland. Continuing his terrific recent surge in form, Conor Liston had the honour of leading the Mullingar boys team home in the 4,000m for boys u/16, followed by Jamie Wallace, Niall Brady and Luke Greene running strong but finishing out of the medal places.

The 4,000m for girls u/18 & Junior Women was a combined race where the u/18 girls could win medals in both the u/18 race and as members of junior teams. Leading the Mullingar girls home with a brilliant performance was Grace Byrne (u/18), winning a silver medal with the Leinster team, and with great team packing in support from Caoimhe Donohue (u/18), Meabh Killalea (junior), Jessica Cunningham (u/18) and Aisling Lane (u/18), when the u/18 and junior results were sorted, the Mullingar u/18 team finished 3rd Club to win Mullingar first set of team medals of the day. It was very close in the junior race where the Mullingar team finished 4th Club in a close contest for the bronze medals. The final underage race on the programme was another combined race, the 6,000m for boys u/18 and Junior Men, where like the corresponding women’s race, medals could be won in the u/18 race and as members of junior teams. Despite the valiant efforts of Diarmuid Fagan, Conor Sherwin, Ross Killalea, David Burke, Pablo Lozano and Conleth Mullen, the u/18 team finished 4th Club, just out of the medal places and the Junior Men team finished 5th County, also narrowly missing the medal places in an extremely competitive race because it was the trial for Junior Irish teams for the European Cross Country and so attracted the very best in Ireland.

Moving to the senior programme, Aine O’Reilly gave it her all and was very pleased with her performances in the 8,000m for Senior Women against the cream of Irish women cross country talent. The day finished with the 10,000m for Senior & u/23 Men where Mullingar fielded a strong team. Always in contention throughout, Jack O’Leary and Jamie Battle put in great shifts and as the race unfolded over seven laps they were right in the mix for honours and it was only in the very late stages that gaps began to open but both kept pushing hard all the way and Jack finished in 9th place, ahead of Jamie (u/23), 14th overall and 4th u/23 man, followed in by Jack Moran (u/23), Vinny Connolly, Euan Lagan (u/23), Andrew Nevin, Ian McCormack and John Whitelaw (u/23) all fighting hard for every place to the end. With only the top three senior men and top three u/23 men guaranteed selection for the European Cross Country, it’s likely Jack and Jamie will just miss selection for Turin, but you couldn’t fault their determined efforts and some consolation might be that they helped the team to 3rd Senior Club and fifth County, but Counties are graded A and B, and Westmeath is a B County and placed first B County, so won County team gold medals and will be promoted to the A category next year.

Well done to all the Mullingar athletes on giving their very best efforts and thanks to the parents of our underage athletes for making the long journey to Donegal and staying overnight before the event to make sure they were as well rested and prepared as possible.