The Laois County Senior Road Race took place on the Turra Triangle in Crettyard on Sunday.
It was a tough, windy day for the races which were run over a distance of 4km (three laps) for the ladies and 8km (six laps) for the men on a hilly circuit.
There was a small field in both races - 17 in the ladies race and 20 in the mens - but the small fields were no indication that the quality was diminished, and both races were won in quicker times than last year. The ladies race was won in a time almost 40 seconds quicker than 2014, and the mens race had the top-three under 27 minutes, compared to just one last year.
The Ladies lined up at 12pm and were set off bang on time. Sharon Grant of Portlaoise went straight to the front and set a blistering pace from the gun. Everyone followed suit and the trio of Colette English, Moira Griffith and Michelle Keenan worked hard to keep Sharon in their sights.
At the end of the first lap, the race was well strung out and Sharon Grant had around ten seconds of a lead. Collette English had a solid second place and club mate Maire Griffith (St Abban’s) held third place just ahead of Michelle Keenan of Ballyroan Abbeyleix. With the winner decided, it was the minor places and team positions that everyone had on their minds.
Sharon Grant kept up her strong pace and finished in a time of 14:08, Colette English lead St Abban’s to team victory with her second place. Michelle Keenan pushed hard over the last two laps to take third place from Maire Griffith who also held off Jean McEvoy (Ballyroan Abbeyleix) for valuable team points.
The mens race started immediately after the ladies and took off at a fairly pedestrian pace. The first kilometre was run in four minutes, which increased slightly to 3:45 per km for the second and then Stephen Hunter (St Michael’s) injected some pace into the race at the 3k mark.
Brian and Cormac Kelly (St Abban’s) looked at each other, assessed the goings on and kept control leaving the St Michael’s man get about three seconds of a lead but no more. The two St Abban’s men worked well together and eventually passed Stephen and went on to win, with Cormac beating Brian by seven seconds.
Stephen Hunter came in a very credible third place after making a good race of it. Further back Cormac Fitzpatrick and Colm Burke were having a good battle for fourth and fifth place with Colm coming out with fourth and valuable points for St Abban’s. It was similar for sixth and seventh place with Owen Connolly and Noel Marum having a great race.
There were many great performances with Jimmy Mac Cormack and Cyril Cuddy trying to gain points for Portlaoise but Colm McEvoy held on well to keep St Abban’s in contention for the team prize. St Abbans were the eventual team winners with 20 points
A big thank you has to go out to St Abban’s AC for hosting a great day of racing and their super hospitality. The next championship event on the Laois Athletics calendar is the Junior and Masters Road Race in Portarlington. Full results can be found on the Laois Athletics website and Facebook page.
Ladies Race Results
1st - Sharon Grant (Portlaoise) 14:08; 2nd - Colette English (St Abban’s) 15:16; 3rd - Michelle Keenan (Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District) 15:34; 4th - Maire Griffith (St Abban’s) 16:01; 5th - Jean McEvoy (Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District) 16:08; 6th - Ailish Brennan (St Abban’s) 16:19; 7th - Kate McDonald (Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District) 16:23; 8th - Catriona McDonald (St Abban’s) 16:33; 9th - Sandra Fitzpatrick (Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District) 16:40; 10th - Gemma O’Connor (Portlaoise) 16:55.
1st - St Abban’s 20pts; 2nd - Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District 24pts; 3rd - Portlaoise 36pts.
Mens Race Results
1st - Cormac Kelly (St Abban’s) 26:43; 2nd - Brian Kelly (St Abban’s) 26:50; 3rd - Stephen Hunter (St Michael’s) 26:59; 4th - Colm Burke (St Abban’s) 27:33; 5th - Cormac Fitzpatrick (Ballyfin) 27:36; 6th - Owen Connolly (St Michael’s) 27:44; 7th - Noel Marum (Portlaoise) 27:47; 8th - Riobaird Millar (Ballyfin) 24:56; 9th - Cyril Cuddy (Portlaoise) 27:58; 10th - Jimmy McCormack (Portlaoise) 27:59.
1st - St Abban’s 18pts; 2nd - Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District 39pts; 3rd - Portlaoise 59pts.
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