Co. Longford Primary Schools Cross Country Championship- report by Leslie Finnan

The annual Co. Longford Primary Schools Cross Country Championship, hosted by Longford Athletic Club, was run in crisp autumn conditions at Moyne Community School last Saturday evening.  190 primary school students representing 15 schools from across the county took to the challenging course hoping to qualify for the Connacht Championship in Sligo in two weeks’ time. Cian McPhillips, Ardagh, won in the Boys race for the 4th consecutive year, an accomplishment that will be very hard to equal. As was expected the athletes from Ardagh and Killoe schools made a very strong showing and 4 other schools, Colehill, Fermoyle, Stonepark and Newtownforbes, all contended for individual and team medals reflecting the popularity of running throughout all corners of the county.

Aideen Mulligan, Killoe, won the first race, Junior Girls 800m, with Ardagh 3rd & 4th Class girls’ team claiming the set of gold medals on their score of 36 points. Ella Duggan and Rosie Flanagan finishing 2nd & 3rd, helped their classmates from Newtownforbes and Stonepark to secure their places in the Connacht Championships. The Boys race was dominated by Killoe with all 4 of their team finishing in the top 7 places for the day’s best score of 15 points.  Cormac Harte 1st, David Moorehead 3rd, Mark Rowley 4t and Adam Donnelly 7th will be very competitive when they travel to Sligo. Fermoyle and Newtownforbes Boys teams also qualify for the next round.

Aoife Nolan, 5th, and Eabha Healy, 8th place, lead the Fermoyle team to victory in the 5th & 6th Class Girls Senior 1000m race. Lauren McGuire went home with the gold individual medal and together with Kate Breslin, 9th, their team from Colehill qualify for Connacht. Alannah Flood from Newtowncashel never let up in an excellent run to win the 2nd place individual medal followed very closely by Anna Moorehead, Killoe, and Melissa O’Kane, Ardagh. The Killoe Girls Team took the set of bronze medals to round off the list of students to go forward to Connacht.

In the 5th & 6th Class Boys race Cian McPhillips, Ardagh, once again showed his fine form, leading from the start and winning with a comfortable margin. As this is only the start of the cross country season we can anticipate hearing more from the current National Champion over the coming weeks. With 3 of the Ardagh Boys team  coming in tight to the line, Brendan Finnan, 5th, and Jack Gallagher, 6th place, they clinched 1st place team medals on 25 points. Oisin Lane, Colehill, had great drive and gave a strong challenge from the whistle to the finish line, winning with an individual silver. Oisin together with his classmates Diarmuid Kelly 12th, Mark McCormack 14th and John McCormack 15th place, brought the second set of silver medals back to Colehill. Adam Shields from Melview and Eoighan Smith, Killoe, finished 3rd and 4th places in the most competitive race of the day. Newtownforbes built on the experience they gained competing last year with the team of James Galligan, Josh Sorohan, Jim Crossan & Elliot Keegan claiming 3rd place and completing the Longford schools list.

The new 1000m race for First Year Secondary School students attracted a small but talented field. Sarah Murphy, Connacht squad bronze medallist at last year’s National Athletics Ireland Championship, set the pace dominating the entire course. Team mates Alannah Mulligan 3rd, Ciara Sutton 4th and Rhona Hourican 5th, completed the panel to win the team medals for Moyne Community School. Dearbhaile Rooney, with many years cross country experience on her side, gave challenge to break their line up and took the silver. Thomas Ivel, St. Mel’s College, took gold on a course he is familiar with from previous national school races. Moyne’s Karl McNerney and Shane Grimes won 2nd and 3rd place but didn’t have enough runners to take the set of team medals for the First Year Boys.

In a complete shake up this year Team medals were evenly spread at 2 sets a pieace to Colehill, Fermoyle, Killoe and Ardagh Schools. Newtownforbes emerged with 3 sets, 1 silver and 2 bronze, demonstrating the keen interest and commitment of children and parents in athletics. Killoe won the Harry Farrell Primary Schools Cross Country Perpetual Shield for Best School despite the best efforts by Ardagh to hold on to it for the second year.  Longford AC wishes all the children progressing on to the Connacht Primary Schools Cross Country Championships the best of luck.