STAR of the Sea AC retained the Larry Daly Cup in the Meath Senior Cross-Country Championships at Porchfields, Trim, on Sunday.
On a testing course on a very pleasant winter's morning, with the castles and steeples of Trim in the background, the morning started with the ladies senior championship over a distance of 4k in which Star of the Sea had a team competing for the first time in seven years. Karen Lavelle, Rosemary Hutcheson, Deirdre Farrell and Phyllis Browne finished in fourth place with a score of 45 points.
Eoin Callaghan led the men's team and was ably backed up by his brother Neil, Rob Tully, Andrew Coscoran, Peter Casey and Brian Moore.
Daragh Rennicks, home on holidays from an athletic scholarship in America, was a firm favourite to retain the individual title he won for the first time last year, but there would be a tough battle for the minor medals between Robbie Matthews (Dunshaughlin), Luke Forde (Dunboyne) and Eoin Callaghan (Star of the Sea).
From the gun Rennicks set the pace, with Forde staying on his shoulder, while the experienced Matthews and Eoin Callaghan remained at the lead of the chasing pack over the first lap of this testing five-lap course.
Neil Callaghan, Coscoran and Tully were also to the fore of this chasing bunch as they headed out on the second lap. With 50 athletes taking part the field was breaking up as the athletes went by the finish area with three laps to go.
Rennicks had broken away from Forde, with Matthews and Eoin Callaghan now giving chase to the Dunboyne man. Meanwhile, Neil Callaghan was firmly in control of fifth place with Coscoran and Tully next in the field running together and taking turns leading each other out as this race was about retaining the Larry Daly Cup. Casey was midway down the field and gaining ground, while Moore was just slightly further back.
With two laps to go favourite Rennicks was assured of the title as he had opened up a commanding lead, while Matthews had now moved into second place, with Eoin Callaghan closing down on Forde.
Neil Callaghan was having a great race in fifth, while teenagers Tully and Coscoran were still working with each other to maintain their sixth and seventh positions.
Taking the bell for the last lap Eoin Callaghan had moved into third place, and while Matthews had a substantial lead on the Star of the Sea athlete, Eoin was working hard to bridge the gap. Neil Callaghan was closing in on the tiring Forde who had probably paid for his early pace-setting with Rennicks.
Rennicks won the race with more than a minute to spare from Matthews, and Eoin - who had shrunk the gap on Matthews to nine seconds - had to settle for a well-deserved bronze medal. With Neil Callaghan in fifth, Tully 6th and Coscoran seventh Star of the Sea were assured of the team title.
Casey finished 24th and Moore 29th and in the end Star of the Sea had 18 points to spare over Bohermeen, with Dunboyne pipping Dunshaughlin for team bronze.
Seamus Brady of Dunboyne AC, in his first official role as the newly elected President of Meath Athletics, presented the Star of the Sea team with the Larry Daly Cup.
The juvenile cross-country relays were held immediately after the Senior Men's race and the Star of the Sea team of Cian McNulty Casey, Peter Coscoran, Gavin Flood and Conor Kriesche finished fourth in the U-12 boys 4x250m race.