Masters of the road
Sheil and Kehoe in top-class form
Kilmore A.C. hosted the Mr Oil county Masters road race on Friday evening in Kilmore village.
The sun shone gloriously, ensuring that the 110 participants between the women's race and the men's race had the best possible conditions necessary to run quick times.
The course was a fast one. With only one tough uphill climb to negotiate on the main road, the backroads were perfectly suited to fast running. And it was fast running that the spectators got.
The women had to run just over one loop of the course. Their 4k race had three athletes who regularly represent Ireland in the field, Fiona Kehoe and Jackie Carthy of the host club, and Ann Sullivan of D.M.P. All of these women were firmly in contention going into the race.
However, there was one clear winner. From the outset, Fiona Kehoe stamped her authority on the field, building a gap of over 50 metres within the first kilometre.
Kehoe, who represented Ireland last year at the British and Irish Masters international cross-country in Wales and previously won the national Senior 800m indoor title, is a force to be reckoned with in Wexford athletics. Strong, determined and quick, she pretty much ticks all the boxes on the running checklist.
Jackie Carthy was attempting to chase her down. Behind Jackie, a strong group of three runners was formed including Catherine Roche (Slaney Olympic), Ann Sullivan and Anna Bushe (Croghan).
However, as they climbed the hill and headed along the backroads, Kehoe's lead grew with every stride.
Rather than slowing down, she continued to put the boot down and won comfortably in the end, in a time of 13:55.
Jackie Carthy was next across the line. Carthy recently won a medal at the world Masters indoors in Torun, Poland, and is gradually getting back into the swing of things after the elation she felt following her achievements.
Yet another classy runner from Kilmore, Jackie was also well clear of her nearest rivals. She crossed the line in 14:45, 50 seconds behind Kehoe but as a comfortable and well-deserved winner of the silver medal.
The battle for third was really where the main tussle occurred. Whoever was to earn the bronze medal was really going to have to work for it.
As the main loop for the women progressed, Slaney Olympic's Catherine Roche began to pull away from Sullivan and Bushe.
Roche ensured that there was a repeat in the podium from the Mr Oil county Masters cross-country championships at the start of the year by running a time of 15:35 and, in the process, she sealed the bronze medal.
Ann Sullivan won the Over-60 title, finishing fourth overall, just over ten seconds behind Roche.
It was another very impressive result from Ann who continues to represent D.M.P. extremely well on the local, national and international scene.
Anna Bushe finished fifth representing Croghan, less than ten seconds behind Sullivan.
Kilmore unsurprisingly won the women's team title. Kehoe and Carthy were joined by Helen Doyle, who finished in tenth place. Doyle also won the Over-45 title.
Six more women were also part of the Kilmore crew and were unlucky not to be on the top scoring team.
S.B.R. came second, on 27 points, with Lillian Lawless, winner of the Over-50 title, Ciara Bowe, Over-40 champion, and Belinda Kehoe the scoring members.
Slaney Olympic were the winners of the bronze medal, a mere one point behind S.B.R. Catherine Roche, Katie Gregan and Aoife Kavanagh made up their team.
The men's 6k race followed the women's race. The men faced nearly two laps of the course, and the race was very difficult to predict.
Several of the runners would have fancied their chances, but Niall Sheil of St. Killian's was arguably the favourite.
At the end of the first loop, there was nothing separating a group of eight to ten men.
Sheil looked comfortable but had plenty of company from many of his rivals from the likes of S.B.R., United Striders, Croghan and D.M.P.
It was in the second loop that Sheil gradually began to assert his dominance on the field and break down the resilience of some of his opponents.
Sheil, who is coached by Pavel Kolesnikov, ran earlier in the year at the world Masters indoors in Poland and represented Ireland last year at the British and Irish Masters international cross-country championships in Wales.
Niall appears regularly on the podium at national level and continues to be the dominant force in men's Masters athletics in Wexford.
In the end, Sheil reigned victorious by a margin of 14 seconds, running a time of 19:32 for the race. Behind him was United Striders' Paul Doran who was the first home of a massive contingent of runners from the New Ross club in a time of 19:46.
Just missing out on breaking the 20-minute barrier was Joe Lillis, also of United Striders, in third. Lillis completed the course in 20:04.
United Striders dominated the team competition. Doran and Lillis were joined by Brendan Lyng who finished fourth and also won the Over-45 category, and Alan O'Connor, who came seventh and in the process won the Over-40 title.
S.B.R. won the silver medals. Brothers Myles and Paul Gibbons were joined by Martin Monaghan and Niall O'Connor.
United Striders claimed even more success when their 'B' team claimed the bronze medal. The team comprised John McGrath, George Delaney, Ted Flannelly and Pat Murray who all finished in the top 25. This illustrates the strength in depth that the men from New Ross possess.
David Barron of Slaney Olympic won the Over-50 category. Barron was the first man from the Enniscorthy-based club across the line, finishing 14th.
Jim Stafford, the second man from Slaney Olympic home, won the Over-55 category. Stafford finished 16th.
Eugene Doherty of S.B.R. won the Over-60 title. Doherty finished in 47th position.
S.B.R. also had the first home in the Over-65 category, as Jack Murphy, who finished 60th, claimed the title.
The Over-70 gold medal was won by Billy Harpur, also of S.B.R. Harpur finished in 67th place.
Kilmore Athletics Club put on a great spread after the race that was appreciated greatly by all runners, stewards and officials.
Thanks to them for hosting another successful championship road race.
Wexford Marathon Club will host the Mr Oil county Senior road race championships on Friday, June 14.
The venue for this race will be confirmed in the coming weeks.