CARLOW athletes harvested rich pickings from the opening day of the Schools Cross Country season last week when they came away with five individual golds and three team titles in all.
The season got underway in the very impressive grounds of Clongowes Wood College in Clane Co. Kildare last Thursday and the weather was very kind to the athletes and the underfoot conditions on most of the course was excellent.
The individual winners for Carlow were John Byrne from Knockbeg in the Junior, Siobhra O'Flaherty of St. Leo's also in the Junior and three winners from Presentation College Carlow, Laura Ward and Niall Harvey (both Minor) and Danny Lawler in the Senior.
The team titles went to Knockbeg Senior and Junior and Presentation College Minor Boys.
The day started with the Minor races. Laura Ward of Presentation College opened up an early lead and was unchallenged all the way to the finish.
Her classmate Niall Harvey was equally impressive winning the boy's race and he led his team of Tom Pollard, Jack Mitchell and Kevin Murphy to a clear team victory with all the boys in the top 15.
Knockbeg held off St Kieran's Kilkenny for second. Siobhra O'Flaherty from St. Leo's had little difficulty winning the Junior race with her team just missing out on the bronze medal by one point.
The Kealy sisters from Borris VS, Daena at Minor and Lauren at Junior, finished in the top 10 to qualify for Leinster. From Pres De La Salle Beatrice Kelly gave a fine run to finish in the top 10.
The Junior Boys race was won by the ever improving John Byrne representing Knockbeg just holding off his schoolmate Oran O'Flaherty. With Bobby Crowley fifth they had little difficulty taking the team title.
No Carlow athlete was prominent in the Inter Girls race unlike the boys where Eamon Murphy of CBS, James Kelly from Pres DLS Bagenalstown, Jamie Wall of Borris VS, James Tyrell from Knockbeg and Davy Lawler Pauric Coughlan and Cian Heffernan all Presentation College were in the top 15 and qualify for the Leinster finals.
With three athletes well up and a good run by Jack Ryan from Presentation College the squad finished second in the team behind a very strong St Kieran's Kilkenny. Knockbeg finished third.
Gael Colaiste led by Muireann Ni Shuilleabhain packed well to take second team in the Senior Girls while Knockbeg continued their dominance of the Senior team Boys title.
This race was won by Danny Lawler who put on the individual performance of the day leaving the rest of the field a long way behind. Kevin Brennan of Knockbeg was a distant third and with Ethan O'Neill fourth they set up a clear team win. In fifth place Graham Power from Presentation College makes the Leinster finals.
The next stop for these athletes is the Leinster finals in Santry on February 6.