Carthy and Gibbons master poor conditions to claim county titles
THE COUNTY Wexford Masters and Junior cross-country championships were held in the midst of stormy conditions in Taghmon on Sunday last. Due to the severe weather forecast the Juvenile relays were postponed in advance.
No Junior athletes competed, due in no small part to the harsh conditions that would have put off a few potential runners, but also due to the lack of Junior athletes in Wexford, with only ten registered in the county by the end of November out of a total of 1,461 athletes.
Despite the sloppy course, muck and wind, the rain eased down for the duration of the races. The Masters women's race kicked off at 1 p.m. over 4,000m.
The familiar figure of Jackie Carthy of Kilmore A.C. crossed the finish line ahead of the pack and saw last month's Senior county champion also taking the Masters county title to add to her list of victories over the last twelve months.
She was followed by D.M.P's Ann Sullivan with Kilmore A.C's Helen Doyle third. Catherine Walsh of Slaney Olympic came in fourth.
In the team event, Kilmore A.C. again took the county title with nine points, followed by Slaney Olympic on 25 points. Croghan A.C., competing in their first Masters cross-country, bagged the bronze close behind on 29 points.
In the graded categories the county champions are: Over-40, Catherine Walsh (Slaney Olympic); Over-45, Catherine O'Connor (Menapians); Over-50, Mag Dunphy (Slaney Olympic); Over-55, Annis Kehoe (Slaney Olympic); Over-60, Jane Porter (Slaney Olympic).
The Masters men was run over 6,000m and was directly after the women. A total field of 47 athletes was considered an excellent turn-out for the day that was in it.
In what was a grueling test of endurance, S.B.R's Myles Gibbons finished an excellent cross-country season with victory over United Striders A.C's Ted Flannelly.
Myles bided his time and left enough in the tank to take the lead in the final stages of the race to add the Masters title to his list of accolades. John McGrath of United Striders finished third, to add another county medal to his impressive collection which includes the county Novice and Intermediate cross-country titles for 2013. Dave Barron of Slaney Olympic was in fourth place.
The men's team event was a hotly-contested competition with S.B.R. taking the title by a mere two points on 14 points, with the comeback of United Striders close on their heels on 16 points. Slaney Olympic took the bronze with 26 points.
Masters men graded county titles went to: Over-40, Martin Monaghan (Slaney Olympic); Over-45, Dave Barron (Slaney Olympic); Over-50, Ger Maloney (St. Paul's); Over-55, Michael O'Gorman (United Striders); retaining his Over-65 title was Billy Harpur of S.B.R.
All Masters medals will be presented along with Senior, Novice, Masters track and field medals and Senior, Novice and Intermediate cross-country medals at the Athletics Wexford awards night which will be held on February 21 in The Bailey, Enniscorthy.
The championship hosts, Taghmon A.C., battled with the elements to prepare a fine course, only to see their hard work fall victim to the storm; however, the cup of soup for all at the end of the races was much appreciated by athletes and officials alike and thanks is due to their impressive organisational skills once more.
The Juvenile cross-country relay championships will now take place on Sunday next, January 12, at 3 p.m., with the venue to be confirmed during the week. Age groups will be based on 2014 age groups and races will be for even age groups starting at Under-10s.
A full breakdown of the Masters grades by position will be shortly available on www.wexfordathletics.com
The A.G.M. of Athletics Wexford County Board will take place at 8 p.m. in Bree Community Centre on Wednesday, January 13. Nominations to the officers' positions together with motions and recommendations have been distributed to the 17 club Secretaries, and all clubs are asked to consider these in advance of the A.G.M.
Each club is entitled to four votes and all are reminded that they should send their full voting complement.
Following a very successful 2013 for the county and for its clubs, with many breakthroughs at both provincial and national levels and a 22% rise in membership, the County Board will have much positive developments to reflect upon at the A.G.M. The rise in membership makes athletics one of the fastest-growing sports in Co. Wexford and many outstanding individual and team performances were produced over the year.
Amongst the happiest memories of 2013 was the victory of the Wexford women's team in the National League and their subsequent promotion to the Premier Division. Not to be outdone, two of our men became national Senior champions - Menapians A.C's David Hynes in the 100m and D.M.P. A.C's Marco Pons in the discus.
With a much-needed breakthrough at Juvenile level in cross-country - again two individual national medals and two teams qualifying for nationals - the time and energy put into the development of endurance running is beginning to reap rich dividends. The national title in cross-country won by the Wexford women in the national Senior inter-counties Grade 'B' was also a special moment.
The re-development and re-formation of the Juvenile Development Squad for Under-15s to Under-19s has also been a huge positive for emerging talent. Both Annie Stafford and David McDonald from Menapians achieved the honour of wearing the Irish vest during 2013, with many more Juvenile national champions chasing on their heels for the coming season.
This year's county track and field championships - both Juvenile and Senior - were slightly up on numbers, however the 'B' championships held at the end of June displayed a massive increase in participation at grassroots level and will be surely an event to be built upon during 2014.
Great work has been put in at club level and indeed at County Board level, however there is a lot more to be done to allow the talent of Wexford athletes to reach its full potential.
With the impending opening of the athletics track at Cherryorchard in Enniscorthy by Enniscorthy Town Council, much opportunity lies in wait.