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

Week ending Saturday 15th Feb


All-Ireland Medals for Mullingar Masters

This year, like the General Election, the AAI National Masters, Intermediate and Juvenile “B” Cross Country Championships moved to a Saturday, but that did not deter a large attendance. Held in the picturesque grounds of Avondale House, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow, race participants were greeted with a tough two kilometre looped course, which contained a very long steep climb and equally technical descent. To add to the challenge, there was also a very strong wind.

First into action was young Jack Geoghegan in the u/11 boys 1,000m where despite an early fall in the race and cutting both his knees, he got up and finished anyway and being underage again next year, the experience will certainly stand to him. Mullingar had a very strong team in the u/15 girls 2,500m. Illness robbed the team of a chance to show their talents at the AAI Juvenile Uneven Ages Cross Country before Christmas, so they were always going to feature strongly in the “B” Championship. With a fantastic surge in the finish straight, Grace Byrne gained significant ground to finish an excellent third place. With great support from Jessica Cunningham, who stuck to her task and maintained ninth place throughout the race, and strong performances from Adele Geoghegan and Leah Geoghegan despite both being a little under the weather, the team packed well and the girls were delighted to finish first Club.

Taking on the challenging terrain, Aine O’Reilly led the Mullingar team home in the master women 4,000m finishing to the fore of a large field of more than two hundred competitors. Áine was followed in by Breda Daly, Michelle O’Halloran, Maura Dervin, Emer O’Hanlon, Linda Cunningham, Patricia Broderick, Brigid McCabe, Eileen Kenny and Caroline Mullen. The younger master women team of Aine, Breda, Michelle and Linda were unlucky to finish out of the medals in a very competitive race. Having come up just short of a podium finish in each of the last four years the older master women team was determined to bring home medals this year. Running together for much of the race Maura and Emer put in very strong performances, and backed up by Patricia, Brigid, Eileen and Caroline, the team accomplished its winter-long plan by finishing third Club. To top off the success, Brigid and Eileen won their respective categories earning National gold medals.

The 4,000m race incorporated the master men 4,000m for the older master men where for the first time ever Mullingar fielded a team and they did us proud. Nicky McCabe, Sean McMullin and Pat Boyhan combined to finish fifth Club in a race that proved to be very popular attracting much larger than anticipated numbers.

There was a huge field of nearly two hundred and sixty in the master men 7,000m where Pat Muldoon led the large Mullingar team home to finish well up in the individual rankings in his category. The same quartet who were third in last year’s competition were back in search of more National glory and some very strong running by Tom McGrath and Eddie Newman with surging finishes from David Fagan and Paul Ginnell ensured the Mullingar men a place on the podium again, repeating last year’s accomplishment of finishing third Club. Determinedly working his way through the field after a tough start paid off for Eddie Newman, as he finished third in his category.

The last race of the day was the Intermediate men 8,000m where Andrew Nevin put in a very spirited race to bag a top ten finish. Supported by great efforts from James Keegan, Gerard Gavin, Pauric Brady, Hans De Raeymaeker and James Cribbin the Mullingar team finished a very respectable fifth Club in a race which this year had some tough competition from the Dublin Clubs. It is unfortunate that Mullingar is the only Club in Westmeath that put forward athletes to represent the county team but even with that disadvantage, the Mullingar men brought Westmeath home as fourth County overall, just outside the National medals.

We were unable to field a team in the Intermediate women 5,000m race due to much of the senior women team being ineligible, having won the title last year. The Club hopes to grow the squad and anybody interested in running with the Club should make contact or make further inquiries at our training nights.

National 50k Championships

The 10th anniversary of the Donadea 50k hosted by Donadea Running Club last Saturday morning incorporated the National 50k Championships. The course was ten laps of Donadea Forest Park, Co. Kildare, so it was difficult for the 224 finishers to maintain concentration and focus as the laps unwound, even remembering what lap they were on posed a challenge!

Concerns that he was running too fast in the first few laps and that he might pay for it later proved unfounded for Maurice Looby. He had enough strength to drop very little time in the final three laps, even overtaking fourth place half way through lap eight, and held on to finish third in a new personal best time of 3 hours 16 minutes and 54 seconds and win a National bronze medal.

Being a National Championship, one expects Club colours to be worn, and it was good to see Evan McCormack in maroon and white fulfilling a long time wish to compete over 50k and he finished seventeenth in 3 hours 46 minutes and 51 seconds. Though a good result on his debut, this is not as quick as he had hoped for when he entered the race some time ago. Not long back from injury, Evan really had to dig deep to keep going to the finish, particularly from the 30k mark, but he proved his endurance mettle and was happy to battle on and complete the tough course. Time will tell if he will have another attempt next year.

Strong performance by Claire Fagan

Coming on the back of medal success at the recent AAI u/23 Indoors, Claire Fagan competed in the 1,500m at the AAI Indoor Games last Sunday afternoon at the National Indoor Arena in Abbotstown, Co. Dublin. There was a large field of seventeen runners and the fast early pace suited Claire and she quickly settled into a place in the main group. There was no let up in the pace but the main group still remained big throughout and with three laps to go there was some contact between athletes as they vied for position, always a risk when running indoors in large groups. Slightly impeded, Claire lost some ground but recovered well to finish very strongly in the closing laps to finish in 4 minute 32.67 seconds, a strong performance and one to build on in her next indoor race.

Membership for 2020

Please renew your membership as soon as you can. If you are not registered, you are not insured and cannot train at the Club or take part in Club competition. You can pay membership online through the Club’s website or any night at training. As always, you can pay membership in instalments if it suits you better.

For the latest results, news and details of all upcoming fixtures check the Club’s website at www.mullingarharriers.com.