BRIAN KIRWAN showed for the second year in succession that he is the athlete to beat at local level with an outstanding performance to retain the Carlow Senior Cross Country Title in Tinryland on Sunday.
While there was much speculation in advance of the race as to the eventual outcome of the title, the LOT athlete set out his intentions from the start and by the end of the opening lap had already established a 50m lead over 12 time winner Pat Byrne of the host club closely followed by teammate Colin Payne. Despite the gallant efforts of Byrne to reduce the deficit over the following two circuits of the 10km course, Kirwan never relented from the fast opening pace set out and extended his lead towards the finish to win in a time of 34 mins 07, 35 seconds ahead of Byrne with Colin Payne running a fine race to finish in the bronze medal position in 35 mins 14.
With the first three medals effectively decided by the half way point of the race, the other interest for the spectators on the day was the annual battle for the Odlum Cup which was evenly balanced for most of the race but was eventually decided by some impressive runs by Tinryland Athletes. While Kevin Lawlor of LOT made a welcome return to this event with a fine 4th place finish in 35 mins 55, Tinryland retained the team title with great runs coming from Irish Masters International Tommy Payne 5th, the very consistent Larry Murphy in 6th and Eddie Walsh who gradually moved up the field to run probably his best ever race at this level to take 7th. In 8th place was LOT athlete and Irish Duathlon International Keith Heary with former runner up Dwayne Farrell completing the Tinryland team in 9th with Graham Power of LOT taking 10th spot. In the team section, Tinryland took another overall title with an eventual score of 32 points, which was 18 points ahead of their Carlow Town Rivals LOT whose other scorers were Niall Murphy 12th and James McAssey 15th.
While there was almost a record field of 36 starters in the Carlow Senior Cross Country this year, the most encouraging aspect on the day was the presence of the Bagenalstown Athletics Team which marked the first time in up to 20 years that another Senior Club in Carlow outside Tinryland and LOT competed in these championships.
Great credit must go to the Bagenalstown team of Bill Barry, Sean Kane, Sean Dillon, Fergal Foley, David Ashmore, Christian Dermody, Mark Glynn and John Cassidy for participating and acquitting themselves well on the day.
In the Senior Womens 5km, there was a depleted field in terms of numbers with the absence of the likes of Deirdre Doyle and Mary Ann O'Sullivan but that was not to take away from another impressive run by the defending champion Vera Nekrassova of LOT who led from start to the finish and completed the course in a time of 20 mins 51. In the runner up position just 6 seconds behind the winner was debutant Laura Delaney of LOT, a 3hrs 25 min Marathon Runner who showed that she will likely be in contention for the title in the coming years with an excellent last lap to gradually reduce the lead of the champion to the closest of margins. In 3rd position was Muireann O'Sullivan who came through strongly to finish in 21 mins 31 while the LOT scoring quartet was completed by Antonia Butler 4th and Pamela Dowling in 5th. LOT retained the team section being the only complete team on the day.
There was also a keenly contested Open Juvenile 1 mile before the senior programme with Jamie Wall running a great race to win in 5 mins 43, just ahead of the LOT trio of Eamonn Murphy, Niall Harvey and Oran O'Flaherty while the first girl home was Jessica Ankers of LOT ahead of teammate Chloe Nolan with up to 30 competitors taking part on the day.
Senior Men 10km: 1st- Brian Kirwan (LOT) 34-07, 2nd- Pat Byrne (Tinryland) 34-42, 3rd- Colin Payne (Tinryland) 35-14 4th- Kevin Lawlor (LOT) 35-55, 5th- Tommy Payne Tinryland) 36-17, 6th- Larry Murphy (Tinryland) 37-24, 7th- Eddie Walsh (Tinryland) 38-11 8th- Keith Heary (LOT) 38-23, 9thDwayne Farrell (Tinryland) 38-50, 10th- Graham Power (LOT) 39-04
Teams: 1st- Tinryland (2,3,5,6,7,9)- 32 pts 2ndLOT (1,4,8,10, 12, 15)- 50 pts 3rd- Bagenalstown (20, 23, 24, 26, 29, 30)- 152 pts.
Senior Women 5km: 1st- Vera Nekrassova (LOT) 20-51 2nd- Laura Delaney (LOT) 20-57 3rd- Muireann O'Sullivan (Tinryland) 21-31 4th- Antonia Butler (LOT) 21-39 5th- Pamela Dowling (LOT) 21-42 6thMelissa Broderick (LOT) 22-11. Teams: 1st- LOT (1,2,4,5)- 12 pts
Junior 1 Mile: 1st- Jamie Wall (Tinryland) 5.43 2nd- Eamon Murphy (LOT) 5-51 3rd- Niall Harvey (LOT) 5-53 4th- Oran O'Flaherty (LOT) 5-57, 5thHugh Dooley (LOT) 6-33, 6th- Jessica Ankers (LOT) 6-36.