On a truly dreadful day for anyone venturing outdoors, Seán Tobin of High School Clonmel and Síofra Cléirigh Buttner from Coláiste íosagáin defied the rain, cold and muck to nail down the senior titles at the Aviva All Ireland Schools Cross-Country Championships, held at the UUJ campus outside Belfast.
In the girls' senior 2.5km, Linda Conroy of Mercy Kilbeggan did her best to stick with Cléirigh Buttner with the pair taking an early lead. Only on the last lap did Cléirigh Buttner break away, opening up a decisive 15-metre gap. It was a fifth consecutive schools cross-country title for Cléirigh Buttner, who still has a year left in her schools career.
With her team-mate Sarah Ní Mhaolmhuire snatching the bronze, Clár Nic Cártaigh fifth, and Sorcha Nic Umfraidh seventh, Coláiste íosagáin comfortably took the team gold.
After a second in the boys' senior race last year, Tobin was determined to end his schools career on a winning note. Tobin's great rival Hugh Armstrong of Gortner Abbey Crossmolina bravely made the early pace with Tobin keeping a close watch. Tobin broke clear two laps to go, building up a 15-second margin by the finish.
Armstrong held on for second from the fast-finishing Kyle Larkin of Ard Scoil Rís in Limerick, with Andrew Coscoran of St Mary's Drogheda showing a welcome return to form to finish fourth ahead of Ian Guiden from St Aidan's.
For only the second time in its history, Coláiste Mhuire Mullingar won the team medals, Paddy Fagan, Pádraig Moran, Thomas Lynn and Ryan Blundell packing brilliantly to ensure victory. The last time Coláiste Mhuire took the senior title was in 2002, when a certain Fionnuala Britton won the senior girls' race.
Clodagh O'Reilly from Loreto Cavan led the inter girls' 3,500m from the start to come home a comfortable winner. In second place Isabel Carron led Leinster champions Skerries CC to All Ireland victory, with Loreto Kilkenny and St Mary's Naas making it a Leinster clean sweep. Rhona Pierce, Sarah Byrne, Aoife Downy and Laura Costello made up the winning squad from Skerries.
A thrilling inter boys' 4,500m ended with Kevin Mulcaire of St Flannan's Ennis pipping Jack MacGabhann from St Mary's. Liam Mac Giolla Phádraig of Coláiste Eoin finished third with strong runs from Pierre Murchan of St Declan's CBS for fifth place and Jack O'Leary of Clongowes for seventh. St Malachy's Belfastfinished top team.
Síofra O'Flaherty of St Leo's Carlow proved the class of the field in the junior girls' race, beating Eimear Fitzpatrick of Our Lady's Templeogue. In a closely fought team competition, Coláiste íosagáin came home first. Fearghal Curtin of Midleton CBS was a comfortable winner of the boys' junior race, with Alan Monaghan from St Patrick's Navan and Oisín ó Gibne of Drogheda Grammar second and third respectively.
St Michael's Enniskillen took team gold.
Caoimhe Harrington of Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí and Paddy Maher from Dunshaughlin CC won the minor races.