Síofra kicks for victory

Lindie Naughton

AVIVA Leinster Schools c-c CHAMPIONships

Ever since she started racing at the age of 12, Síofra Cléirigh Buttner of Coláiste íosagáin has known only one way to compete – and that is from the front.

Her policy has served her well and in the five years since then, she has rarely been beaten and never at local schools level.

Her winning streak continued yesterday when she added a first Leinster senior title to her collection at the Aviva Leinster Schools Cross-Country Championships held in blustery Santry.

Here was a rare occasion when Cléirigh Buttner held back, conscious that she needed to take it easy after finishing just outside the medals in the European Clubs Junior Cross-Country last Sunday.

So after a day's sleep to recover, she was happy to let Linda Conroy of Mercy Kilbeggan make the early pace, with schoolmate Clár Nic Cárthaigh, winner of the race last year. Only with 400m to go did Cléirigh Buttner unleash her kick, quickly chasing away for a comfortable win.


Conroy was a solid second, clearly back in fine form after struggling at the North Leinsters. With Nic Cárthaigh third, Sarah Ní Mhaolmhuire fourth and Sorcha Ní Umfraidh fifth, Coláiste íosagáin were clear winners of the team title.

In the senior boys' race, Aaron Hanlon of St Mary's Drogheda was another reigning intermediate champion making an effortless transition to the senior ranks.

After forcing the pace from the start, he was soon on his own.

A clear second throughout the race was Ian Guiden of St Aidan's, who has rarely placed out of the medals in a distinguished schools career. For third place, Cillian ó Maonaigh, the East Leinster champion, managed to hold off Padraig Moran who was leading Coláiste Mhuire Mullingar to team victory for a second year.

Most dramatic race of the day was the inter boys' race. Dylan Keegan of Templeogue started out in typically fighting form, but was passed on the final lap by Pierre Murchan of St Declan's CBS and Jack Mac Gabhann of St Mary's College. In the dash for the line, Murchan made it by a last-second lunge. When it came to the teams, St Aidan's were winning their second title of the day.

After a long break from racing, Ella Fennelly of Mount Anville showed she was back fighting fit when she won the East Leinster title, beating Rathdown's Isabelle Odlum. The pair finished in the same order yesterday, with Isabel Carron in third place leading Skerries to team gold.

Last year, another Siofra, O'Flaherty this time, caused a lot of heads to turn with her effortless win at minor level. Now a junior, the girl from St Leo's, Carlow did it again at Santry, beating Eimear Fitzpatrick of Our Lady's Templeogue. Is another five-year streak on the way?

Results – Girls – Minor: 1 J McCann (Rathdown), 2 L Ward (Pres Carlow), 3 N Duffy (St Peter's Dunboyne). Teams – 1 St Dominic's Cabra 28, 2 Holy Child Killiney 61, 3 Col íosagáin Portarlington 62. Junior: 1 S O'Flaherty (St Leo's Carlow), 2 E Fitzpatrick (Our Lady's Templeogue), 3 Niamh Ní Chiardha (Col íosagáin). Teams – 1 Col íosagáin 21, 2 Eureka Kells 61, 3 Dominican Wicklow 70.

Inter: 1 E Fennelly (Mount Anville), 2 I Odlum (Rathdown), 3 I Carron (Skerries CC). Teams – 1 Skerries Community School 30, 2 Loreto Kilkenny 56, 3 St Mary's Naas 63.

Senior: 1 S Cléirigh Buttner (Col íosagáin), 2 L Conroy (Mercy Kilbeggan), 3 C Nic Cartaigh (Col íosagáin). Teams – 1 Col íosagáin 8, 2 Pres Kilkenny 62, 3 Mount Sackville 63.

Boys – Minor: 1 J Maguire (St Benildus), 2 P Maher (Dunshaughlin CC), 3 A ó Neathallaigh (Col Cois Life). Teams – 1 Colaiste Mhuire Mullingar 57, 2 Willow Park 90, 3 St Kieran's Kilkenny 101. Junior: 1 Cormac Dalton (St Joseph's Rochfortbridge), 2 O Gibney (Drogheda Grammar), 3 P Marron (Ratoath). Teams – 1 St Aidan's CBS 49, 2 Knockbeg Coolege 55, 3 St Pat's Navan 73.

Inter: 1 P Murchan (St Declan's CBS), 2 J Mac Gabhann (St Mary's College), 3 D Keegan (Templeogue Coll). Teams – 1 St Aidan's CBS. Senior: 1 A Hanlon (St Mary's Drogheda), 2 I Guiden (St Aidan's), 3 C O Maonaigh (Col Eoin). Teams – 1 Col Mhuire Mullingar 39, 2 Knockbeg College 108, 3 St Aidan's CBS.