WITH THE last Wexford schools cross-country competition having taken place at the start of 2020, there was a huge turn-out for last week’s running of the event in Adamstown.
Packed buses brought athletes from the four corners of the county for what is the first step in a series athletes must go through in order to book a place in the All-Irelands.
The dry, hilly Adamstown course, designed and overseen by Marie Mooney (Adamstown AC) and Wexford Athletics Chairman Paddy Morgan, hosted eight races from Minor through to Senior. As is always the case with this meet, there were some races which featured impressive individual runs from start to finish, and there were those which produced exciting tight finishes.
Experienced Presentation athlete Claragh Keane asserted her dominance in the Senior girls’ race from the start, coming home well clear of the field. Emma Hannon (St. Mary’s, New Ross) was second and Eimear Halpin (Loreto) third.
The Senior boys’ race followed a similar pattern, with Joe Byrne (Gorey Community School) stamping his authority on proceedings. Joe, who has been having a really strong season to date notwithstanding a now-recovered niggly foot injury, did not wait around at the start and took a commanding lead which only increased as the race progressed. He was followed home by Jamie O’Connor (Good Counsel) in second and Seán Kinch (Gorey Community School) in third.
Will Park (Ramsgrange) won the Intermediate boys’ race with a fine performance of front running, beating Kennedy College student and fellow United Strider Seán Lennon who finished strongly in second, with Donny McDonald (Coláiste Abbáin) taking the bronze.
The Intermediate girls’ race saw a head-to-head between Loreto and Presentation at the front, with Loreto’s Maria Coone ultimately taking the win ahead of school-mate Cliona Kearney and Lucia Goggins (Presentation).
The Junior girls’ race also witnessed a battle of the Wexford town schools, with Aoife Walsh (Loreto) eventually seeing off the Presentation duo of Emma McCarthy (second) and Éabha Keane (third).
The Junior boys’ race had one of the tightest finishes of the day, with Max Murphy using his big stride to open up, and retain, a lead on the final kick for home. Silver went to his schoolmate Joss O’Connor, while Ólan Delaney (New Ross CBS) placed third. Incidentally, fourth place went to D.J. Dempsey, making it a 1-2-3-4 for United Striders athletes.
The Minor girls, with 86 runners toeing the line, produced another competitive and exciting race. In the end it was Marina Thompson of Presentation who won pulling clear of Chloe Wafer (Creagh College) in second and Lily Ryan (Our Lady of Lourdes) in third.
The Minor boys’ race was dominated by the Good Counsel duo of Hugo Tierney (first) and Jamie Doyle (second), while Artem Kelly (Meanscoil) finished a close third. The race was noteworthy for the fact that Gorey Educate Together, competing at their first Wexford schools event, won team bronze.
With the races all run, officials still had one important function to attend to: checking through the results and determining the 2022 recipient of the Donna Foley Perpetual Trophy for best overall school.
From early in the day it was obvious that this would be a two-horse race between rivals Loreto and Presentation. With the number-crunching completed it was Loreto, with three team golds as well as being runners-up to Pres. in the Senior girls, who emerged victorious by four points.
The South Leinster cross-country takes place in Carlow town on Wednesday, February 2.
Minor girls: 1, Rayna Thompson (Presentation); 2, Chloe Wafer (Creagh college); 3, Lily Ryan (Our Lady of Lourdes); 4, Leah Morrisey (FCJ); 5, Ruby Gallagher-O’Reilly (Gorey Community school); 6, Lucy McCormack (Loreto).
Minor boys: 1, Hugo Tierney (Good Counsel); 2, Jamie Doyle (Good Counsel); 3, Artem Kelly (Meanscoil); 4, Jack Browne (FCJ); 5, Paulius Skuodis (Bridgetown); 6, Manus Flynn (FCJ).
Junior girls: 1, Aoife Walsh (Loreto); 2, Emma McCarthy (Presentation); 3, Éabha Keane (Presentation); 4, Emma Keegan (FCJ); 5, Nicole Lageu (Loreto); 6, Cora Finn (Loreto).
Junior boys: 1, Max Murphy (Good Counsel); 2, Joss O’Connor (Good Counsel); 3, Ólan Delaney (New Ross CBS); 4, D.J. Dempsey (New Ross CBS); 5, Billy Joseph Carroll (Ramsgrange); 6, Jack O’Shea (Coláiste Abbáin).
Inter girls: 1, Maria Coone (Loreto); 2, Cliona Kearney (Loreto); 3, Lucia Goggins (Presentation); 4, Caoimhe Byrne (FCJ); 5, Caoimhe Tobin (Loreto); 6, Sophia Tkacheva (Gorey Community School).
Inter boys: 1, Will Park (Ramsgrange); 2, Seán Lennon (Kennedy College); 3, Donny McDonald (Coláiste Abbáin); 4, Eoin Shannon (Good Counsel); 5, Luca O’Connor (New Ross CBS); 6, Caoilán Costello (Good Counsel).
Senior girls: 1, Claragh Keane (Presentation); 2, Emma Hannon (St. Mary’s New Ross); 3, Eimear Halpin (Loreto); 4, Caoilfhionn Ní Núalláinn (Loreto); 5, Ciara Nolan (Presentation); 6, Ciara Martin (Presentation).
Senior boys: 1, Joe Byrne (Gorey Community School); 2, Jamie O’Connor (Good Counsel); 3, Seán Kinch (Gorey Community School); 4, William Lynch (Creagh College); 5, Dylan Balfe (New Ross CBS); 6, Philip Kearns (Coláiste Abbáin).
Minor girls: 1, Loreto; 2, Presentation ‘A’; 3, Presentation ‘B’.
Minor boys: 1, Bridgetown; 2, Enniscorthy Community College; 3, Gorey Educate Together.
Junior girls: 1, Loreto ‘A’; 2, Presentation; 3, Loreto ‘B’.
Junior boys: 1, Coláiste Abbáin; 2, Enniscorthy Community College; 3, New Ross CBS.
Inter girls: 1, Loreto; 2, Our Lady of Lourdes Rosbercon; 3, St. Mary’s New Ross.
Inter boys: 1, Good Counsel; 2, Meanscoil Garman; 3, Enniscorthy Community College.
Senior girls: 1, Presentation; 2, Loreto.
Senior boys: 1, Coláiste Abbáin.
Overall winners of the Donna Foley Perpetual Trophy: Loreto (twelve points).
We mentioned last week that DMP’s Under-16 girls were silver medal winners in the Leinster cross-country relays in Dunboyne. What we did not tell you was that United Striders’ Under-16 boys’ team also ended up on the podium. The club has an excellent record in the relays, one which the boys were out to maintain.
Joss O’Connor, on the opening leg, was part of a breakaway trio which included athletes from Ratoath and Tullamore. They opened up a considerable gap on the others.
When Joss handed over to Ólan Delaney, Striders were neck and neck with Ratoath with Tullamore starting to hurt back in third. By the time Max Murphy got the baton, Ratoath had pulled ahead, leaving Striders with a lot of work to do.
Eoin Hannon chased hard on the final leg and while unable to make ground on a very strong Ratoath anchor, he maintained what was now a considerable lead on Tullamore. And that was how it finished, silver for the New Ross club. Well done to the boys and to reserve D.J. Dempsey.
Four days later, four of the five put aside their club camaraderie when competing at the Wexford schools cross-country championships. Max, Joss, Ólan and D.J. filled the first four places, in that order, in the Junior boys’ race.