With cross country running in the county enjoying one of the most successful spells in history, it was given a further boost last Thursday as students turned out in huge numbers for the Laois Secondary Schools championhips in Killenard.
Eight races were held on the day, with schools from all over the county getting involved to produce some top class action in the grounds of O’Dempsey’s GAA club.
Chris Finn and Mary Mulhare were the winners of the two main races, the Senior Boys and Girls, with team gold medals going to five different schools also.
With both the senior mens and ladies races at the recent Laois adult cross country championships attracting record fields, athletics in the county continues to chart a rapidly upward curve.
Chris Finn (Portlaoise CBS) took the honours in what was the last race of the day, the Senior Boys 3k. He was in the leading group at the end of the first lap which included schoolmates David Mulhare and Sean Culliton. By the time the runners came back around for the final lap, Finn had opened up a four second lead over David Mulhare, with Culliton remaining hot on his heels.
Finn would only increase his lead from there, as he glided effortlessly over the damp terrain to claim the win with almost ten seconds to spare. Mulhare held on to second, with Culliton in third to secure an emphatic team gold for Portlaoise CBS.
In the Senior Girls race, Mary Mulhare enjoyed a gun-to-tape success of the 2k course, with Breda McDonald coming home second, and in doing so leading Heywood CS to team gold.
In the Intermediate Boys 3k race, Oisin Fitzpatrick (Portlaoise CBS) lead home an evenly spread out first six, with Portlaoise CBS winning gold and silver team medals. In the Intermediate Girls race, Libby Waldron (Colaiste Iosagain) cruised to an emphatic win, with Eimear Guidera (St Fergal’s Rathdowney) coming home second. Heywood CS won the team gold.
Success in the junior races went to Declan Foyle (Heywood CS) in the boys race, and Aoife Campion (Pres Portlaoise) in the girls race. In the minor races, Aaron Dunphy (Mountrath CS) lead home a field of almost 50 runners, while Orla Mullally (Colaiste Iosagain) was the girls winner.
Eight Laois schools took part on the day, with Pres Portlaoise, Portlaoise CBS, Portlaoise College, St Fergal’s Rathdowney, Clonaslee VS, Heywood CS, Mountrath CS, Colaiste Iosagain and Knockbeg College all in attendance.
Winners from last Thursdays races will now go on to compete in the South Leinster Championships, which will be held next week in Clongowes Wood College, Kildare.
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