All-Ireland Schools Cross Country (7th Mar)
Schools title for Kilbeggan
Mullingar Harriers AC had a total of 25 athletes running in the Schools All-Ireland Cross Country on Saturday 7th March in Santry Park, Dublin, on a dry day with strong headwind and good underfoot conditions considering the recent rain.
First race of the day was the Minor Girls where the club had eight athletes making up two teams from two secondary schools; Mercy Kilbeggan with club members Adele Geoghegan, Leah Geoghegan, Morgan Corcoran and Ellen Daly plus Emma Murphy and Emma O’Brien making up the team; and Loreto College, Mullingar, with club members Grace Byrne, Jessica Cunningham, Síofra O’Halloran and Muireann Donohue. The race unfolded with Grace Byrne leading the charge, as she came home in a very strong third place finish for a place on the podium. The strong team running by each athlete resulted in history being made by Mercy Kilbeggan, as this was their first team to get to an All-Ireland Cross Country. To top off the day, the school won first team with Loreto Mullingar claiming the second team place. Second race of the day was the Minor Boys and the club had one athlete in Conor Sherwin, running for Coláiste Mhuire, Mullingar. Conor gave it his best, and while it was not to be for Conor on the day, he will have gained from the experience.
The Junior Girls category had club member Aisling Lane representing Mercy Ballymahon. Aisling had a solid run on the day and gained valuable experience. The Junior Boys category had five boys from the club representing Coláiste Mhuire, Mullingar with Ross Killalea, Adam Brady, John Ryan, Daire McDonald and Callum Costello together with Ben McGrath, Daire Hanna and Daniel Sweeney making up the team. The strong team running resulted in a fourth team place for Coláiste Mhuire, just outside the medals. Notably, only 20 points separated the top four teams.
The Intermediate Girls race had eight club members represented, with the Loreto, Mullingar team of Phoebe Bate, Meabh killalea, Aoife McGouran, Caoimhe Donohue, Lucy Donnelly and Shauna Traynor taking part. Mercy Kilbeggan had Amy Geoghegan and Athlone CC had Bea Drummond. The race was very competitive from start to finish. Amy Geoghegan finished 12th and had a huge race but just missed a spot on the international team, and while disappointed, was happy with her run. Loreto Mullingar team were initially awarded 3rd Team then upgraded to 2nd Team, just one point ahead of 3rd Team. Phoebe Bate led Loreto, Mullingar home in 16th place with team mate Meabh Killalea storming home in 21st with Caoimhe Donohue in 47th. Lucy Donnelly, Shauna Traynor and Aoife McGouran also pushed through for the team. Bea Drummond for Athlone CC also had to dig deep and pushed through to finish in a very fast race.
Last race of the day was the Intermediate Boys, where club runner Diarmuid Fagan was running solo for Coláiste Mhuire. Diarmuid, who is young for the Intermediate Boys grade and has next year to compete again, stuck to his game plan from the start, putting himself in contention to gain a place in the Schools International Cross Country in Falkirk, Scotland. As the race unfolded, Diarmuid’s strong running throughout the race resulted in an 11th place finish (four were over age), which secured him a place on the Irish team. Also racing in Intermediate Boys was club member Lorcan Mullen, running for Cistercian College. Lorcan had a strong run and finished well; he’s improving in each race and growing in strength.