Week ending Saturday 18th Jan
Sterling Performances in Stirling and Leinster Title at home for Padraig Moran
Set against the iconic background of Stirling Castle and spread across the grounds of Stirling Golf Club and the historic King’s Park, in excess of 7,000 athletes gathered early last Saturday morning for a feast of cross country racing. Some of the best athletes across Britain and Ireland were competing for honours in a series of races including the Home Countries International and the Celtic International. Twenty eight athletes from Mullingar made the trip to Scotland, including Claire Fagan (no stranger to running in an Irish singlet), Amy Geoghegan, and Phoebe Bates who were representing Ireland for the first time following superb displays at the National Cross Country Championships in Abbottstown last November.
Flying into Edinburgh on Friday afternoon to lovely mild weather, all changed over the next 24 hours when up on two inches of rain fell resulting in some of our younger athletes running in appalling conditions both underfoot and overhead. However, by sticking to their training programmes over the Christmas holiday period they were in excellent shape and determined not to allow the atrocious conditions dictate matters.
Lining out in their Irish singlets for the first time, Amy and Phoebe (representing Ireland in the Celtic International) were accompanied by their club mates Meabh Killalea, Bea Drummond and Karla Cunningham running as individuals in the u/17 girls 6,000m. Running on a course classed as technically difficult with numerous sharp corners and terrible underfoot conditions, these girls were determined to wear their Irish and Mullingar singlets with pride. Competing on stamina sapping mud and sodden turf, Phoebe finished in twenty seventh place overall, and hot on her heels was Amy in twenty ninth, helping Ireland to finish second team, delighted to win medals on their International debuts. Although there were no honours at stake for Meabh, Bea and Karla, they can be very proud of their displays in a very competitive race.
Silver team medallist in the u/23 European Cross Country Championships in Portugal before Christmas, Claire Fagan lined out alongside some of the best UK athletes in her age group and she did not disappoint. Battling all the way from gun to tape in the u/23 women 8,000m she showed all her fighting qualities holding off a Scottish athlete in a race to the line and in doing so winning the u/23 race and was first Irish athlete home, leading the Irish team to second place.
A few hours before the u/17 and u/23 women races, some of the younger members of the Club were competing for the first time against International competition and were eager to show their talents. The u/13 girls competed over 3,000m and all the signs in training were that they were in superb form and they did not disappoint. Undeterred by the conditions the girls ran with the leading bunch all the way. When the leaders returned back into the main field for the final time, there was great excitement when the maroon and white of Mullingar were visible not far behind the leaders. Superb performances from Adele Geoghegan (tenth), Leah Geoghegan (twelfth) and Grace Byrne (sixteenth) laid down a marker to all that Mullingar was a club that could mix it with the best of them. After watching the u/13 girls run superbly, the Mullingar boys in the u/13 boys 3,000m were determined to match the fighting spirit displayed by the girls. A blistering start right from the gun by some of the Scottish athletes left our boys in no doubt that they were in a race. Once the race settled down, they got into their rhythm and ran as a team all the way to the end with Jamie Wallace showing all his fighting qualities finishing in eighteenth place, followed a few yards behind by Conor Sherwin (twentieth), Conor Liston (twenty first) and Luke O’Leary (twenty second) with only eight seconds separating Jamie from Luke.
Next up was the u/15 girls 4,000m and with the rain now pelting down and the ground turning into a mud bath the girls had to dig deep to complete the course. Jessica Cunningham ran a superb race followed closely behind by Caoimhe Donohue, Ellen Foran, Lucy Donnelly and Shauna Traynor. The u/15 boys 4,000m followed and like all the previous races staying vertical was a now a real challenge such were the conditions. Very fast starts were the norm in all the previous races and this race was no different. Diarmuid Fagan showed his class and with true grit and determination, he tracked the leaders all the way and was delighted with his race, finishing seventh in a blanket finish, just one second separating fourth from seventh. The zigzag nature of the course allowed competitors to see the front runners and seeing one of their teammates running with the leading group drove on the rest of the team. Ross Killalea, Philip McCartan, Callum Costello and Conleth Mullen ran superbly and all were delighted with the experience of running against some top class international competition. Finally, was the u/17 boys 6,000m. Running in a huge field and rapidly deteriorating conditions, Colin Smith, Lorcan Mullen and Ruairi Fagan were all happy with their performances in very testing conditions.
With medals for Amy, Phoebe and Claire and so many excellent performances from the rest of the Mullingar group, it was a great experience for all our Club members and most are now looking forward to packing away the long spikes and preparing for the indoor track season ahead. To travel with such a large number of underage athletes is a big undertaking for the Club and it would not have been possible without the coaches and parents that travelled with them, so they are to be congratulated and thanked for their support.
Leinster Intermediate and Masters Cross Country
The Leinster Intermediate and Masters Cross Country took place in Gowran, Co. Kilkenny last Sunday in cool but dry and at times sunny conditions. Despite the terrible rain in the days leading up to the event, the course held up remarkably well, though it was still very muddy and slippery in many places and great care was required on corners to maintain footing. Congratulations to Gowran AC for setting up an excellent course in very tough weather conditions. The stand out performance of the day for Mullingar was Padraig Moran winning the intermediate men race, delighted to take a Leinster title, but we had lots more individual and team medals to bring back to Mullingar by the end of the day.
Still a relative newcomer to cross country racing, Aisling Corcoran worked hard all the way through the challenging course and was delighted to finish well up and lead the Mullingar team home in the master women 4,000m. Following in with determined efforts and giving great support was Emer O’Hanlon (fourth in her age category, just missing a medal by three seconds), Patricia Broderick (first in her age category), Brigid McCabe (first in her age category), Linda Cunningham, Terri Greene and Caroline Mullen. After sorting the various age categories and team results, it was double team gold for the Emer, Patricia and Brigid by winning first Club and first County in their master age category, to add to the long list of titles this team has amassed in the last couple of years.
Powering up the home straight, Gerard Gavin finished a close fifth in his age category and had the signal honour of leading the big Mullingar team home in the master men 6,000m. Working hard all the way and packing well in support was Eddie Newman (second in his age category), Tom McGrath, Patrick Muldoon, James Cribbin, David Fagan, Pauric Brady, Paul Ginnell, Nicky McCabe (second in his age category) and Pat Boyhan, delighted to win his age category on his debut in cross country racing for Mullingar. The team of Gerard, Patrick, James and Pauric finished a very creditable fifth Club in their age category, but better news with double honours for Eddie, Tom, David and Paul as they finished first Club and third County in their age category.
Master individual and team honours had the Mullingar contingent in high spirits, but we definitely left the best to last with the Intermediate Men 8,000m. Taking control early in the race, Padraig Moran really showed his class and with a faultless effort on what was now a very mucky and slippery course. Tracked by Andrew Nevin, the Mullingar duo never left off the pressure and raced hard to the finish, Padraig delighted to win the Leinster title, Andrew a few seconds behind. All eyes were on the rest of the team and with James Keegan (sixth) and master athletes Kieran Nolan, Barry McDonald and Gerard Brady selflessly running in the intermediate race to make up a team rather that run in the master race leaving nothing behind, they were all rewarded for their fantastic efforts by finishing first Club and third County.
Congratulations to the master men, master women and Intermediate men on their individual and team successes and they can look forward with confidence to the All-Ireland Intermediate and Masters Cross Country in Avondale, Co. Wicklow in February.
Westmeath Examiner Sports Awards for 2019 presented
At a magnificent Gala Function in the Mullingar Park Hotel last Friday evening, the Westmeath Examiner Sports Awards for 2019 were presented. Claire Fagan had an outstanding year, qualifying for the European u/23 T&F in Sweden in July, leading the Mullingar senior women team to the Leinster cross country senior women team title in November, and capped the year by winning a silver medal with the Irish team at the European Cross Country in Lisbon in December. These performances earned Claire the Award for June. In November, the Mullingar senior women cross country team of Claire Fagan, Aine O’Reilly, Sinead Whitelaw and Elizabeth Carr won the Club’s first Leinster senior cross country title since 1995, and later in November placed third in the All-Ireland senior cross country, which earned them the joint Award for November. Claire could not attend, as she was competing in Stirling the following day, so her father, patsy, accepted the Award on her behalf, and Aine accepted the Award on behalf of the Mullingar senior women team. Host Robbie Irwin of RTE interviewed Patsy and Aine, watched by proud family and friends and a group of supporters from the Club. Congratulations to Claire, Aine, Sinead and Elizabeth on their Awards.
AAI National Indoor League
Round one of the AAI National Indoor League took place at the NIA in Abbotstown last Saturday and included a number of guest events for Clubs that didn’t enter teams. A number of Mullingar athletes ran in these guest events to get some early season competition, Charles Okafor and Eta Oviahon in the 60m and Shauna Leydon and Patrick Leydon in the 400m.
Charles finished third in his 60m race in 7.18 seconds, placing him seventh overall of the 27 entrants, and Eta finished fourth in his race in 7.49 seconds, tenth quickest time. There was a further opportunity to run 60m later in the afternoon, which Charles availed of, and leading from the gun he won his race with ease in 7.20 seconds. Both ran extremely well against older more experienced opposition and the will stand them in training in the coming weeks.
Shauna Leydon ran a strong opening lap in the 400m, leading at the bell and looking strong and composed. Moving well down the back straight it was only in the final 100m that she had to surrender the lead but she came home strong narrowly beaten into third place and can take much satisfaction from a very good performance in what is still a new event for her. Patrick Leydon also impressed in his 400m where he always looked strong and relaxed tracking the early leader throughout and having the strength to hold his form in the final straight to hold off a late challenge to stay in second place.
Leinster Juvenile Indoor entries
The Leinster juvenile indoors will take place on the 1st and 2nd of February in Athlone IT. All juveniles who wish to compete must complete the entry form available in the Club at training and return it to Greg by next Tuesday at the latest. No form, no entry.
Annual General Meeting
The Club’s Annual General Meeting will take place in the Annebrook Hotel, Mullingar this Friday evening at 8pm. All Club members and friends are encouraged to attend to hear reports on the Club’s performance, both in competition and how it is administered, and to have a say on Club matters. The meeting will take about an hour and a half and there will be light refreshments served after the meeting.
Westmeath Juvenile Indoors
Athlone IT AC will host the ever-popular Westmeath Juvenile Indoors on Friday week (24th January). There will be events for boys and girls under 9 to under 17 years of age, but this fixture will be of particular interest to our younger members aged 8, 9 and 10 that are too young to compete in the Leinster Indoors. Entries will be taken this week at training at the Club.
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. This is especially important for anyone wishing to compete in the Leinster Indoors in the coming weeks; all entries are online and only AAI registered athletes will be on the system and may be entered. Membership can be paid online through the Club’s website or any night at training. As always, membership can be paid 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.