Having qualified from the Longford race, over 80 athletes from schools throughout the county travelled to Summerhill College, Sligo on Saturday 18th October to compete in the Connacht Primary Schools Cross Country Championship which was run in very challenging conditions. The wind and rain combined with the narrow course and tight running spaces proved far too difficult with only 4 individual medals won by Longford students and unfortunately none of the teams from Fermoyle, Newtownforbes, Colehill, Stonepark, Ardagh or Killoe schools were successful in their quest for a set of Connacht medals.
In the 3rd & 4th class Junior Girls 800m race both Ella Duggan, Newtownforbes 10th place, and Aideen Mulligan, Killoe 11th place, gave extremely strong performances from the start in the field of 126 runners, each receiving a Connacht medal as they crossed the line. Stonepark’s Rosie Flanagan, 30th, and Tessa Tiernan, 40th, kept up with the fast pace but never had room to pass, their team placed 11th with a score of 307. Aisling Lane, Colehill, Kate Hagan, Newtownforbes, and Ardagh girls Sarah McPhillips and Laura Farrell were all hot on their heels finishing in the top 50 runners in the first race, and Ardagh’s girls’ team ranked 9th.
The medals proved too elusive in the Junior Boys race of 125 runners with no Longford athlete finishing in the top 30. Killoe’s team of Cormac Harte, Mark Rowley, David Moorehead & Seamus Walsh gave the strongest team performance of the day, score of 187, with their runners coming in 31, 37, 44 & 75th places. Newtownforbes’s team was led by Dan Crossan in 41st place with Mathew Carey, Mathew Flynn, Conor Smith & Mathew Donohoe running as a tight unit together to finish 9th in the team rankings.
In the Senior Girls 1000m race only 3 Longford girls finished in the top 40, all pushing themselves despite the restrictive course that gave no room for overtaking ; Anna Moorehead, Killoe, 21st, Alannah Flood, Newtowncashel, 25th and Lauren McGurie, Colehill was 37th. The rest of the Killoe girls’ team found the course much too tough placing 14th.
The best results of the Championship were achieved in the final race of 110 5th & 6th class Boys with Cian McPhillips of Ardagh winning 1st place with a comfortable margin. Having watched the earlier races it was apparent that the only strategy was an explosive sprint start which suited Cian as he shot off the line from the starter’s gun. His Ardagh teammates found themselves squashed in the thick pack, Brendan Finnan, 44, and Jack Gallagher, 56 never got the opportunity to pass and had to settle for 7th place on a team score of 177. Oisin Lane, Colehill, bravely held his own in the front of the race to cross the line 7th and bring home the 4th and final medal. Adam Shields from Melview had his sights firmly on the finish line coming in 32nd after experiencing a lot of pushing on the sharp corners.
Longford AC sends out a big thank you to all the children for taking part and to their families for travelling in such blustery conditions. Cross country demands endurance, speed and strength. Training for cross country races will help you improve throughout the rest of the year as you can see the benefit on the track in both sprints and middle distance.
– report by Leslie Finnan (19\10\2014)