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Athletics: Celtic tigers dominate at DCU event

Irish junior international athletes Emmett Jennings of Oatlands and Síofra Cléirigh-Buttner from Coláiste íosagáin both had runaway wins at the annual DCU Cross-Country Invitational races in St Clare's, Glasnevin, yesterday.

Neither athlete showed any sign of tiredness after competing for Ireland at the Celtic in Greenmount, Co Antrim, at the weekend.

In the boy's senior 4,000m race, Jennings pushed to the front from the start and it was soon obvious that the fight would be for the minor placings. Leading the chasers was a group that included Belvedere's Jayme Rossiter, Stephen Lawlor from Knockbeg College, Donal Foley of St Paul's in Raheny and Brian Connolly of Drimnagh Castle.

Also well up was Danny McLoughlin, part of a strong team from St Malachy's in Belfast, who had travelled for the day's racing.

Jennings duly crossed the line a comfortable winner, with Rossiter emerging from the pack to finish second ahead of Lawlor. Taking the team shield was Knockbeg College, with St Aidan's second.


Síofra Cléirigh-Buttner may be only 14, but she is well capable of taking on older girls and beating them, as she proved in Antrim when she finished eighth overall, and best of the Irish in the U20 race at the Celtic International.

At DCU, Cléirigh-Buttner, who is the current Irish junior champion, moved up an age group to help the íosagáin intermediate team to victory in the 2,000m race. She clearly was the class of the field, quickly taking the lead.

Coming a fighting second was Chloe Doran of Holy Faith Clontarf, with the Our Lady's Templeogue pair of Siobhan McGinty and Aoife Keyes third and fourth.

While the girl's senior 2,000m may have had a small enough field, it boasted a number of strong school athletes who have progressed through the ranks.

Among them was Niamh Denny of Our Lady's Grove, who won the race from Shauna Moore of Dunshaughlin Community School. Moira O'Sullivan from Holy Faith Clontarf was third and Hannah Dalton of Our Lady's Templeogue fourth. Winning the team race was Loreto Foxrock, who had six points to spare on St Dominic's of Cabra.

One of the best races of the day was the boys' inter 3,000m, with Stephen Attride of Knockbeg College finishing ahead of Conor Turner and Ian Guidan, both from St Aidan's, who duly took the team title by five points from the Carlow boys.

Last year, in the face of the budget crisis, numbers dropped for this fixture, which traditionally acts as the warm-up for the Leinster schools cross-season. Clearly schools have found ways to adjust, and record numbers turned out for the minor and junior races. Among them were large teams from schools such as Belvedere and Rathdown, who may not have featured in the medals, but who added greatly to the occasion.

A stunning total of 187 finished the boys' minor race, making it possibly the biggest schools cross-country race ever.

Battling his way to the front was Brian McGrath of St Peter's Navan, who duly won the race from Eoin Strutt of St Fintan's High School in Sutton and Patrick Elliott of Lucan Community College.

Back to winning ways in the team competition were the boys of Willow Park, a school with a enviable reputation in juvenile athletics. They beat St Fintan's and St Colmcille's.

St Fintan's went one better in the junior boys' race, beating St Malachy's Belfast by just two points. Individual winner of the race was the promising Aaron Hanlon of St Mary's Drogheda, with Killian Kirwan of St Fintan's second and Liam Ashtown of St Aidan's third.

In the girls' minor race, a record 168 started the race, which was won by Tina McCarthy of Dunlavin. Second was Dearann Ní Mhaoinearnagh of Coláiste íosagáin, with Claire Healion of Newbridge College third. In fourth place, Siobhan McArdle was leading St Mary's Naas to a Kildare local derby victory over Newbridge College. Third was Muckross Park.

Clear winner of the girls' junior race was Sarah Fitzpatrick of Our Lady's Templeogue. Sarah just happens to be the daughter of Enda Fitzpatrick, organiser of the DCU Invitational and a noted coach, who had every reason to be happy with yesterday's races.

Now for the Leinster campaign with the North and East Leinster zone finals starting it all off next Tuesday.