Cross-country season gets up and running in Killarney


Tessa Dennison

The first Kerry Athletics county cross-country championship of the season was held in the Demesne, Killarney last Sunday. This opening event saw the Juvenile even ages and the Novice and U-23 men and women battle it out for county titles.

The first race of the day was the Novice women with Maria McKenna (Farranfore Maine Valley) taking the top spot ahead of An Riocht's Catherine O'Sullivan and Majella Diskin. Mary Barrett finished in fourth place to give An Riocht team gold. Winner of the Novice Men's race was Eddie O'Connor (Lios Tuathail) with An Riocht athletes Martin Dineen, Sean O'Sullivan and Trevor Dunne close behind to scoop the team gold medals.

An Riocht's Niamh O'Mahony was streets ahead of the competition, taking the U-18 girls title with Alyce O'Connor and Rhona Randles from Kenmare in second and third places. Kenmare won team gold with Muireann de Faoite completing the team. The U-18 boys title went to Darragh O'Leary from Killarney Valley with An Riocht taking team gold thanks to great running from Luke O'Callaghan, Darragh Lynch and Daire O'Brien in second, third and fourth places respectively.

The programme then moved onto the younger athletes starting with the U-10 girls race which was won by Jessie Lynch from Farranfore ahead of Doireann O'Neill from Kenmare and Ciara Eager from Star of the Laune. Team gold went to Kenmare with Elissa Hussey, Lily Curran and Aoibhe Kelleher making up the four. Luke Merrigan from Kenmare was the clear winner of the U-10 boys race with Isaac Vickers from Farranfore in second and Ben O'Connor from St Brendans. Kenmare once again scooped team gold with Luke joined by Noel O'Neill, Fionan O'Sullivan and Dillon Tangney.

A fierce battle in the U-12 girls race saw Lily Mae O'Gara from Spa Fenit Barrow just edge ahead of Kenmare's Maria Murnane in the final stretch. Katie O'Connell (Iveragh) took third place with team gold going to the Farranfore athletes Mairead Walsh, Rhian McCarthy, Grainne Costello and Tessa McGuigan. Matthew Quinn from Lios Tuathail won the U-12 boys title, leading his team of Georgie O'Donnell and Oran Doorely to gold, with Fionan Ryan (Tralee Harriers) second and Seamus O'Donoghue (Kenmare) third.

Abbie Dunlop was the winner of the U-14 girls title, ahead of Eabha McCarthy from Farranfore and Kathryn Ryan from Killarney Valley. Star of the Laune took team gold - well done to Marina Eager, Carolina Rodriguez and Lola Eager who took 4th, 5th and 6th places. Gold in the U-14 boys event went to Michael Thornton from Gneeveguilla. Second was Adam Quigley from Iveragh and Tommy Arthur from Kenmare was third, with the Kenmare team winning gold thanks to great running from Ben Merrigan, Kieran O'Donoghue and Jimmy Kelleher.

The final events of the day were the U-16 girls and boys races. Shauna McCarthy (Farranfore Maine Valley) won the girls event, Saoirse Tompkins (Gneevegulla) was second and Grace Cahill (An Riocht) was third. Iveragh AC won the team gold medals with Maeve Daly, Aoife Dwyer and Sarah O'Shea making up the team. Farranfore also picked up the U-16 boys title with Cian Spillane crossing the line ahead of Oisin Murray from An Riocht and Ben Murphy from Gneeveguilla. The Farranfore team of Cian, Malachi Kirwan and Conall O'Mahony won team gold.

Many thanks to Killarney Valley AC for hosting the event and to all the volunteers from across the county who came out to help on the day. The action moves to Cahersiveen this Sunday for the Juvenile Even Ages, Intermediate and Masters.