Leinster Senior Cross Country 2010

Kilmacow, Sunday February 14th – Distance runners are such a romantic race of people that (for some of them anyway) their ideal way of spending Valentine’s day involves a trip to south Kilkenny to run in the Leinster senior cross country, well away from where their partners can nag them. And how worthwhile a trip it was, as it turned out to be one of the most successful days in the club’s history. We passed through a deserted Ballyhale on the way down, as most of the parish would have been in Thurles to see their hurlers beat Newtownshandrum in the club semi finals. Kilmacow is only 4m from Waterford and is home to agriculturally some of the best land I’ve seen in a while. The St Senan’s sports complex is a great example of how when a rural community pulls together they can create something marvellous. There are a soccer club, GAA club, tug of war and athletics club all set up at the clubhouse. They have fantastic GAA and soccer pitches, a long jump straight, an improvised running track and miles of stoned or grassy trails through a forest or along the banks of a tributary of the Suir. All off little if any public funding I would imagine.

We were greeted with gorgeous sunshine and a very firm course that didn’t cut up anywhere despite the amount of kiddies races preceding that of the adults. The course was 95 % flat across pitches and fields and there was one steep hill thrown in and a steep downhill at the opposite side of the course, both of which were no more than 10m long. Both hills were paved with shredded wood bark to prevent any slippages of the large amount of athletes that the organisers were expecting. However most of this expected crowd never showed up possibly due to a number of reasons:

1. People wanted to be fresh for the more important national intermediate & masters XC next week in Roscommon
2. A large amount of club runners showing up at the MySport Enniscorthy 10k
3. Faster athletes ran at the AAA indoor championships in Sheffield

Remember that this event was re-fixed since mid-January due to the ice & snow that crippled Ireland at the time. Athletes usually have schedules planned for up to six months in advance of an event that they’re looking to peak at, and if a race was cancelled along the way they usually would not pencil it in on the re-match. Anyway we could only deal with and dispose of the athletes that did show up. First up were our senior women who had a 90 % strength squad lining out. The race was won by Beijing 08 Olympian Pauline Curley, with Catriona only 14 seconds behind her taking individual bronze. She was followed home by Lucy, Aoife and Crona. With four athletes in the top ten, we were always destined to become Leinster senior champions for 2010; getting the nod over 40 – 50 % strength Raheny and Tullamore sides. Jean also had a magnificent run, finished only 12 seconds off Crona and a minute off the leader; and she was followed closely by Helen. It’s great that there’s so much competition for places on the team.

It is equally difficult to get on the men’s team, although we compete at a lower level than the girls (we are rated in the B category for the national cross country). At the sharp end it was a five horse race for much of the time, with local farmer and Irish international Brian Maher pulling away for victory in the closing stages. Phil had possibly his finest ever half an hour in a Sportsworld singlet, as he finished 6th and a minute behind the leading group. Paul also did magnificently to earn a place in the top ten. Mikey and Garrett completed the Sportsworld scoring. Paul Duffy had to stop to tie his shoelaces in the middle of it, and that took the sting out of his attack. However he’ll be there again next week in Roscommon. Packie also came along for the sunshine following on from his pentathlon the previous day.

Our men’s team ended up battling it out with a large Liffey Valley squad, with ourselves getting the nod by a mere four points (or one place per man). While it’s great to get a team medal, it’s ironic because both clubs would normally be battling it out for 7th or 8th positions in the Dublin senior cross country, yet now we’re the second best Leinster side (in theory anyway). It’s particularly great for Mikey and Garrett, as they never won a medal of any description in their year or two of athletics, so the day belonged to them.

In addition we had Lucy and Aoife scoring on the victorious Meath team, with Catriona and Jean contributing to Dublin’s silver. Phil and Paul scored for the winning Dublin team. Overall it was a fantastic day out in the Kilkenny countryside, and it was great to come away with a haul of medals; especially for people that rarely win them. It was nice to get a relaxed atmosphere at what is normally a very stressful and competitive race; however the national intermediates next week will be a much different kettle of fish. It was also great that we had almost full strength squads out for both races, and hopefully we’ll get more of the same next week. The cross country season will be all over in a two or three weeks. It remains to be seen if this race means anything in a national context, but all we can do for the time being is keep up the hard work.

Leinster Senior Cross Country 2010 Women
Place Name Club County
1 Pauline Curley Tullamore Harriers Offaly
3 Catriona Jennings Sportsworld Dublin 
5 Lucy Darcy Sportsworld Meath
6 Aoife Brady Sportsworld Meath
10 Crona Brady Sportsworld Meath
12 Jean Wilson Sportsworld Dublin 
13 Helen White Sportsworld Dublin 
Leinster Senior Cross Country 2010 Women – Team Result
Place Club Points
1 Sportsworld 24
2 Raheny Shamrocks 59
3 Tullamore Harriers 65
4 St Abban’s 91
Leinster Senior Cross Country 2010 Men
Place Name Club County
1 Brian Maher KCH Kilkenny
6 Phil Kilgannon Sportsworld Dublin 
10 Paul O Connell Sportsworld Dublin 
15 Mikey Cunningham Sportsworld Dublin 
18 Garrett Murran Sportsworld Dublin
22 Paul Duffy Sportsworld Dublin 
25 Packie Enright Sportsworld Dublin 
Leinster Senior Cross Country 2010 Men – Teams
Place Club Points
1 Raheny Shamrocks 23
2 Sportsworld 49
3 Liffey Valley  53
4 Tullamore Harriers 100