ATHLETICS - Mulhare collects another gold

Michael Mulhare was amongst the medals once again over the weekend, as he continued his outstanding form to claim gold at the Novice Cross Country Championships in Charleville Castle, Tullamore on Sunday.

Michael Mulhare was amongst the medals once again over the weekend, as he continued his outstanding form to claim gold at the Novice Cross Country Championships in Charleville Castle, Tullamore on Sunday.

Mulhare came into the race on the back of an impressive outing in the Great Edinburgh run the weekend before where he came in ninth in an international field. With his confidence soaring, he was too hot to handle for the rest of the field as he pulled well clear to take a comfortable victory.

He hit the tape in a time of 19m 28s, giving himself an almost 30 second advantage over Michael Herlihy of Cork, the next athlete to cross the line. Roger Barrett of Ballina completed the top three.

It was success on the double for Mulhare also, as the North Laois team won the club title, with Cormac Fitzpatrick (27th), Harry Lupton (32nd) and Aengus Burke (35th) giving them a team score of 95, good enough for gold ahead of Donore Harriers (125) and Tullamore (137). Jimmy McCormack (81st, Riobard Miller (87th) and Dermot O'Neill (97th) were other North Laois athletes to complete the 6km course.

St Abban's also had a number of runners in the event, finishing 17th in the team standings, with Brian Kelly the first club member home in 18th place.

Laois just missed out on a bronze medal in the county rankings, as Cork, Kerry and Offaly made up the top three, in that order.

For Michael's sister Mary, there were mixed emotions after she collected the silver medal in the girls U-19 race. On any other day a silver would be a great result, but she was headed for gold only to be caught with a few hundred metres to go by Mary Ann O'Sullivan from Tinryland.

Nonetheless, after a frustrating time of it in recent months between illness and injury, her second place finish here, along with her victory in the senior race at the Laois CC championships two weeks ago, represents a steady return to form. She was joined in the race by club mates Breda McDonald and Ailbhe Joyce, who came 20th and 30th respectively.

In the Boys U-19 race, North Laois had a full complement competing in the 5k event. Chris Finn was the first to cross the line in 25th place, with Paddy Conroy (36th), Donnchadh O'Reilly (39th) and Sean Culleton (79th) completing the team effort, with those results good enough for sixth place in the team standings.