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A record turn out for Park

DESPITE the bitterly cold conditions, more than a thousand young athletes from a record 55 schools turned out for the West Leinster Schools Cross-Country Championships in the Phoenix Park.

Biggest race of the day was the minor boys', who had a single 1,500m loop of the 14 acres into a freezing headwind to negotiate. The 225 finishers were led home by Cian May of Salesians, Celbridge, who had finished fourth at the DCU Invitational a week earlier, and is a keen mountain biker.

Almost as big was the junior boys' race, where 200 lined out. Striking out early was Finn Burke-Power from St Declan's CBS, who came home a clear winner ahead of David Troy from Castleknock Community College. A closely fought team competition saw Terenure College, led by Eoghan Kearney, in fifth place, beating Salesians by just two points.

Leading home 138 minor girls was Molly Brown of Castleknock Community College, winner a day earlier of her category at the Leinster Schools Orienteering League in Malahide Castle. With Sarah Linnane also in the top six, Castleknock won the team category, beating close neighbours Mount Sackville.

An emphatic winner of the girls' junior race was Nicola Duffy from St Peter's, Dunboyne, with Sarah Clarke from Scoil Dara second; Nicole O'Gorman in third place led Mount Sackville to team victory.

Winner of the girls' inter title was Carla Sweeney of St Mac Dara's who tucked in behind Eimear Fitzpatrick of Our Lady's, Terenure in the first half of the race, who bore the brunt of the vicious headwind. With the wind at her back, Sweeney made her break and was soon adding another title to her already large collection.

A healthy crowd had entered the boys' inter race, where early leader Alex Hunter of King's Hospital was a comfortable winner. Behind him came the battle of the day between Mustafe Nasir of Holy Faith, Rathcoole and Jack Kyle of King's Hospital. Only in the chase for the line did Nasir finally shake off Kyle's challenge. Belvedere, with Aaron Murphy fifth and Kevin Loftus sixth, proved best of the teams.

Pierre Murchan of St Declan's CBS was a clear winner of the boys' senior race, with Belvedere, led by sixth-placed Luke Gilligan, taking their second team victory of the day.

Taking the senior girls' title was Laura Cullen from Mount Sackville, although St Wolstan's packed well to finish best team led by Sinéad O'Connor in second place. It was still a good day for Mount Sackville, who had a win and three second team places on the day.

Results – Girls: Minor: M Brown (Castleknock CC), G Durran (Our Lady's, Terenure), 3 E Crean (Confey Coll). Teams: 1 Castleknock CC 14, 2 Mt Sackville 18, 3 St Mac Dara's CC 49. Jun: 1 N Duffy (St Peter's, Dunboyne), 2 S Clarke (Scoil Dara), 3 N O'Gorman (Mt Sackville). Teams: 1 St Wolstan's 38, 2 Mount Sackville 42, 3 Our Lady's, Terenure 56. Inter: 1 C Sweeney (St Mac Dara's), 2 E Fitzpatrick (Our Lady's, Terenure), 3 Vanessa O'Connor (Mt Sackville). Teams: 1 Mount Sackville 19, 2 Castleknock CC 47, 3 St Louis HS 56. Senior: 1 Laura Cullen (Mt Sackville), 2 Sinead O'Connor (St Wolstan's), 3 Niamh Burke (Lucan CC). Teams: 1 St Wolstan's 17, 2 Mount Sackville 27, 3 St Peter's Dunboyne.

Boys: Minor: 1 Cian May (Salesian Celbridge), 2 James O'Connell (Castleknock CC), 3 Christopher Duffy (St Mac Dara's). Teams: 1 St Mac Dara's 43, 2 Salesian Celbridge 66, 3 Belvedere 71. Jun: 1 Finn Burke-Power (St Declan's), 2 David Troy ( Castleknock CC) , 3 Shane Walshe (Scoil Dara). Teams: Terenure College 74, 2 Salesian Celbridge 76, 3 King's Hospital 76. Inter: 1 Alex Hunter (King's Hospital), 2 Mustafe Nasir (HF Rathcoole), 3 Jack Kyle (King's Hospital). Teams: 1 Belvedere 38, 2 Salesian Celbridge 73, 3 HF Rathcoole 78. Senior: 1 Pierre Murchan (St Declan's CBS), 2 Kevin Kelly (Scoil Dara), 3 Abdul Ali (Blakestown CC). Teams: 1 Belvedere 42, 2 Salesian Celbridge 98, 3 St Peter's Dunboyne 101.


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