Week ending Saturday 21st January
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 and Masters Cross Country and Juvenile Cross Country Relays last Sunday. 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 first Club and second 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 fourth 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 first Club. We weren’t done yet though, and with Kedagh Geoghegan, Kris Foster and Brian Martin finishing strong and well up, it was first 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.
Top class indoor performances for Mullingar
The middle distance events at the AAI National u/20 and u/23 Indoors held last Saturday at the National Indoor Arena in Dublin produced some top class competition and Mullingar Harriers was very well represented.
First into action was Colin Smith in the u/23 men 1500m. Colin won the silver medal in the 800m last year and was confident of a good run, having just returned from a warm weather training camp with DCU. Colin ran a strong race, positioning himself on the leader’s shoulder and maintaining that place throughout the race. With a strong last lap, he secured second place and the silver medal in a time of 3 minutes 54.11 seconds, making it a great start to the day.
Eoin Quinn ran well in a very strong heat to win and secure his place in the final of a very competitive u/23 men 800m. In a tactical final, Eoin encountered a lot of positional challenges, as tactics really came into play. Despite this, Eoin finished really strongly but was just out of the medals in fifth place with a time of 1 minute 56.24 seconds. In the u/23 women 800m, Shauna Leydon gave herself every chance of a medal putting herself among the medal contenders from the outset. Despite a great effort, Shauna had to settle for fourth place in a time of 2 minutes 18.51 seconds, a new personal best time. It was an encouraging start to the season and a very strong performance by Shauna.
In the heats of the u/20 women 800m, Aimee Wallace was competing at National level for the first time in over three years and despite being just shy of her seventeenth birthday, she ran with great confidence. Aimee was always positioned prominently and secured an automatic qualification position. In the final, Aimee ran a really brave and aggressive race to break away with the two pre-race favourites. She remained in contention until the final 150 metres and finished well to comfortably take third place and a bronze medal in a time of 2 minutes 15.08 seconds This was a fantastic comeback to this level of competition by Aimee and will provide her with great confidence for her own age group championships in the weeks ahead.
Another young athlete tasting competition at this level for the first time was Kyle Faherty who competed in the u/20 men 200m. Kyle is still fifteen and doesn’t turn sixteen until July, but he looked very much at home and relished the challenge. The entry was so big it required seven heats and with only the six fastest times qualifying for the final, it was always going to be a very big task for Kyle, but he ran a great race to place second in his heat and even though his time was not enough to advance to the final, he will have learned a lot from the experience and remarkably he is underage for a further three years, so has plenty of time to progress.
The women’s 3,000m race walk was a combined race of u/20 and u/23 women. Aisling Lane was racing in the u/20 women category and lost no time by going straight into the lead from the start, and with an faultless display in this very technical event went on to absolutely dominate the race and win by a big margin of over a lap to secure another very well deserved National title. The men’s 3,000m race walk was also a combined race of u/20 and u/23 men and featured two from Mullingar, both polished performers and their class showed, as Matthew Glennon cruised to an easy victory in the u/23 race, and Andrew Glennon won silver in the u/20 race.
Annual General Meeting
The Club’s Annual General Meeting will be held in the DeCourcy Suite, Greville Arms Hotel, Mullingar this coming Friday at 8pm. We hope see all our adult members attend and also the parents of the very many underage athletes who receive training, coaching and guidance throughout the year. The meeting will take about an hour and a half and we urge everyone to show your appreciation of the work being done at the Club by attending the AGM. Refreshments will be served after the meeting.
Check the Club’s website at www.mullingarharriers.com or its Facebook page for all the latest news.