On a crisp sunny morning last Sunday clubs from all over the county descended on Cullahill for Day 2 of the Laois Credit Unions Intermediate and Uneven Ages Cross Country Championships.
The proceedings got under way with the U- girls, who covered 600m over some undulating ground. There was a furious start to this race with the eventual winner coming through the halfway point in second place but the experienced head on the young shoulders of Cara Goode (Ballyfin AC) saw her take a commanding win to follow up her gold from last week. Katie Brennan and Caoimhe Cuddy took 2nd and 3rd in this very competitive race.
The U-9 boys covered the same distance and had the same frantic start as the girls. Evan English, St Abbans won the event, Niall Lalor of Rosenallis-Kilcavan took second and Joe Kirwan finished strongly in third.
The Girls U-11 was won by Amy Brennan of St Abban’s followed closely by Seoighe English (St Abbans) and Heather Murphy of St Michaels. The boys race didn’t throw up any surprises with John Ikpotokin of St Michaels taking the race lead from the whistle and finally finishing first with a commanding lead. Darragh Kealy (St Abbans) and Diarmuid Dooley (Rosenallis/Kilcavan) worked hard for their 2nd and 3rd place in a very large field.
The U-13’s were running a mile and taking in the longest hill on the course to add to their plight. Jessica Brennan of Ballyroan, Abbeyleix & District raced from the front and had a great win leaving Ava O’Connor (Emo-Rath) and Rebecca Fenlon (St Michaels) fighting hard for second. Eventually Ava passed Rebecca to take silver.
The boys saw a more measured approach with TJ Burke of St Abbans winning ahead of the field which was well dispersed by the speed of the first three. Eoin Higgins (St Michaels) had a really strong run to take second and was followed by David Dooley of Rosenallis-Kilcavan.
The distance rose to 2500m for the U-15’s. Cara Maher of St Abban’s had a great run to finish first ahead of a very strong Rebecca Balfe (Emo-Rath), followed by Orla Fennelly in third to win Oughaval AC their first medal of the day. The Boys race was also a repeat of last Sunday with Cian Kelly (St Abbans) winning ahead of Cian McDonald (Ballyroan Abbeyleix & District). Jack Lacey (St Abbans) also finished well in third.
Avril Deegan (Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District) repeated her exploits of last week and won the U-17 girls race ahead of a very talented Louise Stack of Portlaoise. Caitlin McDonald (St Abbans) came third. The U-17 Boys was also a great run to watch with Domhnall O’Farrell (Portlaoise) winning over the distance of 4k. Cathal Grennan of Rosenallis-Kilcavan had a very strong race to get the better of Oisin Ryan (St Abbans) in third.
St Abbans AC controlled the U-19 Boys race taking the top three spots. James Moore controlled the race from start to finished ahead of his club mates Aran Murphy and James Tyrell.
The U-19 girls were mixed in with the Intermediate Ladies due to small number but it made for an exciting race. Niamh Quinn (Portlaoise) was second behind Maire Griffith for most of the race but won the U-19 crown ahead of teammate Anna Healy and Aine McDonald of Ballyroan.
Maire Griffith (St Abbans) continued her good form to win the Intermediate Ladies making it a double of Laois titles following her win last week. Michelle Fitzpatrick (Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District) took second and Kate McDonald (Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District) took third.
The men of Ballyroan weren’t to be outdone though. James Hamm took first place in a tactical affair on home ground ahead of the St Michaels duo of Mark Hackett and Owen Connolly.
A big thank you has to go out to Martin and Claire Delahunty for giving us the use of their field which made a super cross-country course, created by Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District AC.