AAI Novice & Juvenile Uneven Ages XC 2021 (5th Dec)
Excellent conclusion to cross country season
The domestic cross country season concluded with the AAI National Novice and Juvenile Uneven Ages Cross Country in Gowran, Co. Kilkenny on Sunday 5th December. The early morning sharp frost gave way to clear sunny skies, though it remained very cold throughout the long day of competition but at least it stayed dry. This was in contrast to the heavy rain in the week leading up to the event, which meant the course soon broke up and became very soft and sticky in places, making for real cross country conditions, especially for the later races. Most of the Mullingar underage athletes competed, though a few were sick and unable to compete, but the adult teams were very badly hit by absence due to illness, which meant the women couldn’t field a team and the men had the bare four minimum needed for a team, but despite this, all the Mullingar athletes performed to the very best of their abilities and can be proud of their exploits competing against the very best in Ireland. Mullingar came home with two sets of team medals, one team missed medals by the narrowest of margins, they missed bronze on count back, we had 3 individual top-12 finishes and 6 medals were won with Leinster teams, so it was an excellent day of competition for Mullingar Harriers.
The competition started with the 1,500m for girls u/11 where Lily Walsh had the honour of leading the Mullingar team home in 11th place, earning an individual top-12 finisher’s medal. Despite great support from Chloe Bell finishing very strongly in 16th place, followed by Grace Murphy, Shaynah Mitchell, Aoife Gouldsbury and Lucy Kilmurray the team finished out of the medals though Lily won a gold medal with the Leinster team in the Inte-Provincial competition. We had another individual top-12 medal winner when Cillian Galvin stormed through to 8th place in the 1,500m for boys u/11, leading the Leinster team to third place and the bronze medals, but though Antonio Bertolo, Louis Kiernan, Adam O’Connor and Aonghus O’Reilly battled hard, the boys finished out of the team medal places.
Team medals continued to elude Mullingar in the 2,500m for boys u/13 where Conor Walsh, Conor Geoghegan, Scott Cogan, Darren Corcoran, Greg McDonnell and David Reilly gave it their all, leaving nothing on the track, but finished out of the team medals. Seeing Jamie Wallace power up the finish straight to a magnificent 3rd place in the 4,000m for boys u/15, leading the Leinster team to gold, and with fantastic support from Conor Liston, Donagh Carey, Luke Greene, Niall Brady and Barry Walsh we finally saw team success as the Mullingar boys placed 2nd Club to win richly deserved All-Ireland team silver medals. We were sure we would win another set of team medals when Caoimhe Kilmurray finished well up in 15th place in the 4,000m for u/17 girls, just missing an individual medal, but with Adele Geoghegan, Grace Byrne, Leah Geoghegan, Caoimhe Donohue, Aisling Lane, Siofra O’Halloran and Aine Gilhooly (Athlone IT) packing really well in support, the disappointment was palpable when it was announced that the girls finished 4th Club, on the same points as third, but missing the medals on count back, the narrowest of margins. A consolation of sorts for Caoimhe was a silver medal with the Leinster team.
On to the 5,000m for boys u/17 where Ross Killalea led the Mullingar team to 3rd Club, thanks to fantastic team support and packing by David Burke, Conor Sherwin, Pablo Lozano and Conleth Mullen. We had no team in the 4,000m for girls u/19 but Phoebe Bate and Meabh Killalea ran fantastic races, finishing well up and delighted to win bronze medals with the Leinster team. Meabh moves up to the junior ranks next year, so it was lovely for her to win a medal in her final juvenile race. The juvenile programme finished with the 6,000m for boys u/19 where Lorcan Mullen was the sole representative from Mullingar and he put in a very solid performance in his final juvenile race and can look forward to competing as a junior athlete next year.
Moving to the adult races, the Mullingar women’s team in the Novice Women 4,000m was very badly hit by illness and only half of the team could compete on the day. Undeterred, Anna Broderick, Laura Geoghegan and Michelle O’Halloran gave it their best and can be very satisfied with their performances. The day ended with the biggest race of the day by far, as 222 men charged from the start of the Novice Men 6,000m including Andrew Nevin, Vinny Connolly having his first cross country race in ten years, Alan Crowley and John Whitelaw. Despite the tough conditions on the rapidly deteriorating course, and missing half their team too, the Mullingar men left nothing behind and though they finished out of the team medals can be very proud of their efforts in one of the most competitive cross country races in Ireland. Of note is that from early analysis of the results, Mullingar Harriers finished 4th Club in Ireland overall and Mullingar athletes were on 9 of the 16 Leinster teams that won medals over the two days of All-Ireland cross country competition, helping Leinster to 2nd Province, so very well done to all our underage members.
That concluded the competition and most of our juveniles can now take a well-earned rest up to Christmas before they regroup and prepare for the indoor season in the New Year. There’s no rest for Caoimhe Kilmurray and Conor Sherwin though, as they have the Celtic International Cross Country in January to look forward to.