Athletics Leinster Inter & Masters XC and Juvenile XC Relays 2023 (15th Jan)
Leinster Intermediate Title for Vinny Connolly
Avondale Forest Park in Co. Wicklow again proved itself as an excellent venue for cross country when Athletics Wicklow hosted the Athletics Leinster Intermediate & Masters Cross Country and Juvenile Cross Country Relays on Sunday 15th January. Despite the forecast of wind and rain and freezing temperatures, the day actually turned out dry and calm, though it was still cold. Athletics Wicklow is to be commended for the huge amount of work and effort put in to preparing the course, a hilly parkland course with enough mud and hills to make it a tough but fair test for the runners, and it was met with universal approval by the runners.
The highlight of the day for Mullingar came in the final race, the Intermediate men 8,000m which was won by Vinny Connolly, leading the Mullingar and Westmeath teams to gold. The day started with the juvenile relays where Mullingar fielded a team in the 4 x 250m girls relay, and with great running by Penny Bohan, Liadan Gavin, Amelie Kelly and Clodagh Keane, the girls finished well up in the large entry of nineteen teams, unluckily out of the medal places but not for the want of superb efforts.
When the programme of relay races was finished, we moved to the master women 4,000m where Mullingar fielded a very large squad, all running for individual category medals but also team honours. Finishing very strongly after an excellent race, Jenny Algar had the honour of leading the Mullingar women home, closely followed by Michelle Bohan and providing great support and packing well behind them was Aisling Corcoran, Maura Dervin, Aeilish McGovern, Marie Louise Johnston, Linda Cunningham, Claire Ross, Emer O’Hanlon, Caroline Mullen, Terri Greene, Brigid McCabe, Gemma Kelly, Patricia Broderick, Pauline Troy and Nuala Moran, all racing hard to the finish. As a measure of the performances by the Mullingar women, ten of them finished in the top ten in their master categories, with individual gold medals for Maura Dervin and Brigid McCabe. Of course teams are vital in cross country and the younger team of Jenny, Michelle, Aisling, Aeilish, Marie Louise, Linda, Claire and Gemma finished an excellent fifth Club and sixth County, very close on points to the medal places in a very competitive race. It was better for the older master women team of Maura, Emer, Caroline, Terri, Brigid, Patricia, Pauline and Nuala who were delighted to finish 1st Club and 2nd County.
In the 4,000m for master men over 65, Sean McMullin, Nicky McCabe and Paddy Boyhan put in great efforts and were rewarded with top ten finish places for them all in their categories, no individual medals and extremely unlucky to finish 4th County, on the same points as third but losing out on count-back and you can’t get closer than that!
The master men 6,000m followed and two tough laps really tested everyone. The first man home for Mullingar was Patrick Muldoon, followed by James Carton, Liam McGlynn, John Bannon and Aidan O’Donoghue, all giving every ounce of effort and near-collapsing exhausted over the finish line. No individual or team medals were won but all can be very satisfied with their efforts.
We finished the day with the Intermediate men 8,000m where the in-form Mullingar team was the pre-race favourite for honours and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Vinny Connolly was in contention right from the gun and the leading group slowly whittled down as the laps unfolded, Vinny always pushing the pace until he made his final move with 1,000m to go, a move that proved decisive and he pulled clear to win by a comfortable distance, earning the Leinster title. Seeing Ian McCormack storming up the home straight to finish fourth, with James Keegan on his heels in fifth, it was down to John Whitelaw to provide the vital fourth score for the team and he did so in spades with a fantastic ninth place finish to ensure Mullingar placed 1st Club. We weren’t done yet though, and with Kedagh Geoghegan, Kris Foster and Brian Martin finishing strong and well up, it was 1st County too, giving the Mullingar men plenty to celebrate.
That finished the day’s racing, where the day belonged to Vinny Connolly and our triumphant Intermediate men, but we can’t forget the great results from our master women too, to make it a very memorable day for Mullingar.