Week ending Saturday 13th November
Very successful conclusion to Leinster cross country
Leinster cross country concluded last Sunday when the Leinster Senior and Juvenile Uneven Ages Cross Country Championships was held in the beautiful surroundings of Avondale Forest Park in Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow. Thankfully, while it was a bit chilly at times, the weather stayed dry for the day so the course stayed in excellent condition throughout the long 12-race programme. Athletics Wicklow is to be congratulated for putting everything in place and left no stone unturned in ensuring the course and facilities were up to the highest standards. Avondale is a hilly place, and after every race bodies were strewn around the finish area as exhausted runners gave every last effort in the final uphill stretch to the finish line, but while the course was challenging it was still fair and a great test of strength and fitness that suited the stronger athletes.
In contrast to the attendance in Kilkenny two weeks previously, nearly all the Mullingar athletes that were entered competed on the day, with only a few missing due to illness, so we had our strongest teams in most events. We had reason to be concerned after the first day that Mullingar’s dominance in underage cross country was under challenge, and some other Clubs in Leinster are definitely snapping at our heels, but 2 Club gold, 2 Club silver and a Club bronze pushed us clear on the points table and we should retain the cup for best club in juvenile cross country in Leinster. Club team success aside, we also had a County bronze and 12 Mullingar athletes won individual medals by finishing in top-12 places, including Tianna O’Leary who powered to victory in the under 13 girls race to take the Leinster title.
Before the Championships proper, there were open races for boys and girls under 9 years of age where Penny Bohan and Katie Bohan ran in the girls race and Mel Bohan ran in the boys and they all thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We are sure to see these youngsters in the coming years racing in Championships proper.
The Championships proper began with the 1,500m for girls under 11 where Mullingar had a big team, led home by Lily Walsh in eight place, followed by Chloe Bell in thirteenth, just missing an individual medal by one place, but cross country racing is also about the team and with great support from Clodagh Conlon (Athlone IT), Shaynah Mitchell, Grace Murphy, Aoife Gouldsbury, Lucy Kilmurray, Aoibhe Martyn, Amelie Kelly, Alannah Reihill and Maria Gouldsbury, the girls were unlucky to finish fourth Club, just missing the medals by a few points in a close finish. Seeing Cillian Galvin tenth, Niklas Santin eleventh and Antonio Bertolo thirteenth, just missing an individual medal by one place, in the 1,500m for boys under 11, we knew Mullingar was in the hunt for team medals and thanks to excellent support from Louis Kiernan, Oisin Clarke, Adam O’Connor, Aonghus O’Reilly, Cian Sheerin and Joel Kelly leaving nothing on the track, the boys finished second Club and were rewarded for their efforts with team silver medals.
Taking the early lead in the 2,500m for girls under 13, the race commentator kept us all updated with the progress of Tianna O’Leary throughout and we were delighted to see her sprint up the finish straight to win by a big margin, her first Leinster title. Despite great efforts by Eleanor Kiernan, Kirstin So (Athlone IT), Emma Lagan, Blathnaid Peters, Muireann Galvin, Lisa O’Brien, Sadhbh Carey, Roisin Flynn and Rachel Gouldsbury, the girls were unlucky to finish out of the team medals in a very competitive race. On to the 2,500m for boys under 13 where Conor Walsh was in fantastic form and running very strongly throughout and keeping enough in reserve for a big sprint finish, came home in an excellent eight place, leading the very large Mullingar team to third Club, thanks to great support from Conor Geoghegan, Darren Corcoran, Scott Cogan, David Reilly, Greg McDonnell, Zack O’Leary, Oliver Lynch, James O’Connor and Aaron Conroy.
The 3,500m for girls under 15 was a tough test for Rachel Murphy, Lydia McDonnell, Muireann Reihill, Caoimhe Clarke, Muireann Donohue, Rosie O’Grady and Siofra O’Reilly and despite their best efforts, they finished out of the team medal places, but top marks to the team for effort. Jamie Wallace was always in contention from the start of the 3,500m for boys under 15 and it was only in the closing stages that the eventual winner opened a gap that Jamie couldn’t close, but fighting hard all the way he finished in an excellent second place. With Donagh Carey in thirteenth, just missing an individual medal by one place, and strong running from Matthew Molloy, Conor Liston, Luke Greene, Niall Brady, Darragh Bennett and Barry Walsh, the boys thoroughly deserved their gold medals for first Club. They finished fourth County, just missing medals by a narrow margin, but fourth County means they still qualify for the All-Ireland finals.
Caoimhe Kilmurray looked strong and smooth in the 4,000m for girls under 17, keeping right up with the leaders throughout, and with a very strong finish came home in third place to win an individual medal. Adele Geoghegan left nothing behind and collapsed over the line in seventh place, and with Grace Byrne not far outside the top twelve, and fantastic team support and packing from the fast finishing Jessica Cunningham, Aisling Lane, Leah Geoghegan, Caoimhe Donohue, Siofra O’Halloran, Aine Gilhooly (Athlone IT) and Ellen Foran, the girls richly deserved their medals for first Club and third County. It’s often said in cross country racing that the team is only as good as the fourth score, and we got a great example of that in the 5,000m for boys under 17. First to finish in eight place was Ross Killalea, ahead of Conor Sherwin just outside the top twelve place, followed by Pablo Lozano and then all eyes were on Conleth Mullen who dug deep and battled to the finish to provide the vital fourth score that saw the team finish second Club, a rich reward for great effort.
Mullingar had no team in the 4,000m for girls under 19 but had excellent representation in Phoebe Bate who finished sixth, and Meabh Killalea in ninth, securing their places on the Leinster team in the All-Ireland finals. Lorcan Mullen was our sole representative in the 6,000m for boys under 19 where he put in an excellent shift and was delighted to finish in fifth place and secure his place on the Leinster team in the All-Ireland finals.
That concluded an exciting underage programme and proceedings then moved to the adult races, beginning with the 5,000m for Senior Women. Finishing well up in fourteenth place, the Mullingar and Westmeath teams were led home by Aine O’Reilly, followed in by Michelle Bohan, Anna Broderick, Amy Mahony, Treasa Gibney (North Westmeath AC), Aisling Corcoran, Michelle O’Halloran and Linda Cunningham all working very hard in support. The women finished a very creditable fifth Club and fifth County in an extremely competitive race. The final race of the day was the grueling 10,000m for Senior Men, a long testing race on the tough hills in Avondale but the Mullingar men were up to the task, led home by Ian McCormack, followed by Gerard Gavin, John Whitelaw (third under 23 man), Alan Crowley and Eoin Clarke. The team finished out of the Club medals but they were delighted for John Whitelaw on his individual bronze medal.
A Leinster title for Tianna O’Leary, another eleven top-twelve finishers, five Club team medals, one Club team in fourth place, one County team medal and one County team in fourth place, means that Mullingar and Westmeath will have a big squad at the All-Ireland finals in Gowran, Co. Kilkenny in mid-December. The All-Ireland finals are a step up though and everyone that has qualified for the even ages in Santry in two weeks and for the uneven ages in Gowran two weeks after that needs to continue to apply themselves fully in training, at the Club on Tuesdays and Thursdays but especially in Belvedere at the week-ends.
Fit4Life returns to Mullingar
This week Fit 4 Life returned to Mullingar Harriers AC, as a new training programme started last Monday and will continue for eight weeks. The programme is aimed at beginners or people who wish to take up jogging or running again.
Facilitated by qualified coaches each night, the participants will be assisted in developing their running techniques and to reach personal targets. The programme will continue each Monday night at 7pm up to mid-December, and following a break for Christmas, will resume in early January for the final 2 weeks. Even if you missed the first night, it’s not too late and you can join next Monday evening. Registration is €30 and can be completed on the night. An opportunity as we head into dark nights to get out in the flood lit, all weather facilities of Mullingar Harriers and work to some personal goals for jogging or running.
On the road
While many Mullingar athletes were pounding the cross country hill in Avondale, Siobhan Farry was competing in the Corofin 10 mile in Co. Galway last Sunday morning. Siobhan reported that weather conditions were ideal but though advertised as a challenging course but not too steep or taxing, Siobhan reported that it was actually extremely hilly. Despite this, she still finished in 1 hour 16 minutes and 27 seconds, which is a new personal best time, so she has to be very pleased with that.
Another Mullingar athlete in great form last Sunday morning was Emer O’Hanlon who completed the Clondalkin Half Marathon. Running on a flat course with long straight lines, including parts of it on the banks of the Grand Canal, Emer finished in 1 hour 40 minutes 51 seconds, a new personal best, so another Mullingar athlete very happy with her race. Great to see all the hard work paying off for Siobhan and Emer.
Mullingar quintet to compete in Belfast
Sinead Whitelaw, Maura Dervin, Nicky McCabe, Sean McMullin and Brigid McCabe head north to Belfast this Saturday to compete in the Northern Ireland Masters North-South Cross Country Challenge, which be held at the Queen’s University Playing Fields. Five from one Club is a terrific achievement but for Sinead, Maura and Nicky it will particularly noteworthy, as this will mark their International debuts, which is a tremendous honour for them. Everyone at Mullingar Harriers wishes the Mullingar athletes and the entire Irish team the very best of luck.
Underage membership closed
The numbers of boys and girls attending our 6pm groups of 8, 9, 10, and 11 years of age have grown so large that we’re now at full capacity, so unfortunately we’ve had to close membership for these ages until further notice. The situation will be reviewed in the New Year.
Check the Club’s website at www.mullingarharriers.com or its Facebook page for all the latest news.