Thrilling action at Laois Cross Country Championships

On Sunday, October 16, a huge crowd of spectators gathered on the fantastic grounds of Emo Court and Gardens to watch some great athletic performances from our Novice and Juvenile athletes from across the County.

On Sunday, October 16, a huge crowd of spectators gathered on the fantastic grounds of Emo Court and Gardens to watch some great athletic performances from our Novice and Juvenile athletes from across the County.

It was a gorgeous sunny morning which added to the already charged atmosphere, the first race up was the men’s 6k novices, with a large field of athletes representing all clubs.

The pace was fast from the starting whistle, with athletes chasing Stephen Hunter (St Michael’s AC) for the first lap of this four lap circuit. Hunter was overtaken by Stephen Lawlor (St Abban’s) in the second lap and Lawlor was chased for the remainder of the race but could not be caught and he took the men’s novices title, followed by Stephen Hunter 2nd and John Fenlon (St Michael’s) 3rd. St. Abbans Colin Coyne, Conor Barry and Mark Murray sealed the deal and secured the gold team medal.

The sliver team medal went to St. Michaels AC with Stephen Hunter, John Fenlon, Derek Coogan 4th and John White 13th, and Portlaoise AC taking 3rd team with Connie Conroy 8th, Trevor McCormack 9th, Cyril Cuddy 10th and Niall Collins 18th.

Next race was the Women’s Novices with 36 runners, and this was the largest field of female runners ever to have run in this event; it was also the largest field of runners in these Championships.

The race distance 3k and started with a fast pace St Michael’s AC’s Olivia Sheerin led for most of the race. Sheerin was caught coming up to the finish line by Portlaoise AC’s Paula Grant who seized the moment with a great finish and took gold.

Next to finish was Patricia Ramsbottom (St Abban’s) taking silver closely followed by Olivia Sheerin (bronze). Portlaoise Athletic Club took gold in the team prize also with Paula Grant 1st, Sharon Grant 4th, Grainne Tomlinson 5th and Noreen McEvoy 9th. St Abban’s took silver team (Patricia Ramsbottom , Rosemary Carey, Mairead Moore, Carol Brennan) and 3rd team was Portlaoise B (Colette Dooley, Patricia Cuddy, Noreen Daly and Niamh Moore)

The Girls U-15 race was won by Aoife Campion (Portlaoise), closely followed by team mates Anna Healy 2nd and Louise Stack 3rd they were joined by Eimear Corri to secure the team gold for Portlaoise.

The second team was the recently formed Oughaval AC (Jennifer Connaughton 8th, Maebh Shortall 9th, Emily Moore 12th, and Lucy Kerrigan 13th. The boys U-15s was won by Portlaoise AC’s Domhnall O’Farrell, 2nd to finish was Jimmy Keegan (Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District) and Michael Nash (St Abban’s AC). St Abban’s took the gold team medal (Michael Nash, Fionn Maher, Alan Davis, Aaron Barry).

The Boys U-19’s race was one of the most exciting races of the morning with Christopher Finn (Portlaoise AC) leading the race from the whistle. Finn was the subject of hot pursuit by two of St Abban’s boys Kevin Brennan and Cormac Kelly. On the final climb up the hill with 600 meters to go, Cormac Kelly made his break and powered home to be the clear winner and second position was a tough battle but Christopher Finn outran Kevin Brennan to take 2nd place.

The Girls U-19 was won by Mary Mulhare (Portlaoise AC) who was an outright winner from the beginning of the race and 2nd Breda McDonald (Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District) and 3rd Kate McDonald (Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District).

The Boy’s U-17s was won by Portlaoise AC’s David Mulhare and 2nd was James Delaney (St Abban’s) and Aaron Murphy (St Abban’s). Girls U-17 saw first place go to Siobhan Nash (St Abban’s), second to Molly Carberry (St Abban’s) and third to Theresa Green (St Abban’s).

The U-13’s boys and girls races had a very large field of runners. The girls race had 29 runners and was over a distance of 1.6k. Ava Galvin (St Michael’s AC) set the pace from the beginning and was the outright winner. Portlaoise AC’s Aisling Boyle was 2nd and Erone Fitzpatrick (Portlaoise AC) was third.

St Michael’s took gold in the team event with (Ava Galvin, Orla Mullally, Leah Cooney and Jessica Higgins). Second team went to Portlaoise (Aisling Boyle, Erone Fitzpatrick, Aoife Daly, Amy Walsh) and 3rd Team was Emo-Rath (Aoife Mooney, Emma Lawlor, Gillian Keenan, and Zoe Keegan).

The Boys race was won by Cian Kelly (St Abban’s AC), 2nd place was Liam Crowley (Emo-Rath) and 3rd place Cian McDonald (Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District). First team was Portlaoise AC (PJ Daly, Christopher Carew, Brian Sheehy, Richie Reid). Second team was St Abban’s (Cian Kelly, Conor Mulhall, William Burke, Gerard Kelly) and third team was Emo-Rath (Liam Crowley, Brian Ryan, Eoin Keenan, Donal Hetherington).

There were 29 competitors in the girls fewer than 11 races, Rebecca Balfe (Emo Rath) won the race and was closely followed by Ruby Millet (St Abbans AC) and 3rd position was taken by Cara Maher (St Abban’s). The first team prize went to St Abban’s (Ruby Millet, Cara Maher, Olivia Davis and Ciara McDonald), 2nd team was Emo-Rath (Rebecca Balfe, Kellie O’Brien, Victoria Moore, Niamh Crowley), 3rd team was Portlaoise AC (Kate Walsh, Sinead Quinn, Anna Hennessy, Faith Bennett).

The Girls U-9 race was 600m, St Abban’s AC took the gold medal with Amy Brennan finishing in first position, followed by her team mate Seoige English 2nd and Emo-Rath’s Ciara Crowley

In the Boy’s U-9 race St Michaels AC’s runner Iarlaith Galvin was the clear winner with PJ Burke (St Abban’s) taking silver and Dan Daly (Portlaoise) taking 3rd place.

To wrap up a great mornings running the Boys U-11 race, which was run over 1k, was won by Colm McEvoy (Portlaoise) Cathal Conneghton (Oughaval) was 2nd and TJ Burke (St Abban’s) was third. First team home was St Abban’s AC (TJ Burke, Tom Buggy, Ciara Burke, Colin Dragoi), 2nd Team Oughaval (Cathal Conneughton, Conor Wearty, Conor Donlon, David Corcoran), 3rd team Portlaoise (Colm McEvoy, Fergus Sheehy, Ayomode Johnson, Sean Donohue)

These championships were a big success and very well attended, we had over 240 athletes from all ages competing, well done to everyone who participated. Thank you to the OPW for the use of Emo Court and to Laois Credit Unions for sponsorship.

A special thanks to all who helped out on the day, to John Scully and his crew for marking out the course and doing a great job as MC also thank you to Pat Kelly and Eileen Hayes for the hard work they put in on an ongoing basis to ensure that the administration and organisation of these events runs as efficiently as possible. Full results can be found on or look us up on face book - Laois Athletics.