Wednesday 18 October 2017

Athletics: Beaming Kenneally finally realises cross-country dream

Tom O'Riordan

A smile can say it all and that was certainly true of Mark Kenneally as he crossed the finishing line to win the National Cross-Country Championship for the first time in the Phoenix Park yesterday.

Having finished second in various championships on seven previous occasions, it was understand how the 28-year-old Dubliner felt about his achievement. "I'm absolutely chuffed, the best feeling of my life," said the big Clonliffe runner, who was the top Irish finisher in the European Cross Country three months ago.

Having led from gun to tape, Kenneally came home 14 seconds clear of his closest challenger, Gary Thornton of Galway, with two-time winner Gary Murray from Donegal a further 15 seconds adrift.

"I like running from the front and felt comfortable out there but then in the last lap I felt my head spinning a little but got through that patch and coming into that finishing straight was special -- just no feeling like it," said the winner.

Kenneally also led Clonliffe to a seventh straight team title with just 33 points, finishing clear of Raheny (52) with DSD in third place.

The women's race was yet another gun-to-tape victory by 23-year-old Linda Byrne of Dundrum. She won by a massive 61 seconds from Siobhan O'Doherty of Borrisokane and veteran Annette Kealy from Raheny.

North Belfast challenged strongly for the team title but Dundrum edged them out by four points, 50-54.

Local runner John Travers of the promoting Donore club won the junior men's title in most impressive style. Raheny took the team honours from Donore.

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