7 Up : men retain senior cross country title

Mar 8, 2010 [Noel Guiden ] In positively spring-like Phoenix Park yesterday Clonliffe’s Senior Men’s Team put on a magnificent display to successfully retain the National Cross Country Title for a magnificent seventh time in succession. The victory was made all the sweeter by reason of Mark Kenneally’s taking of his first National Title (discounting his 2006 win in the now defunct National Short Course), with three silver medals from previous Nationals, however, today Mark would be the bridesmaid no more.

Despite a couple of last minute withdrawals, David Flynn not travelling from the States due to injury and Cian McLoughlin missing his first Nationals in about fourteen years through illness, there were no less than eleven black and amber clad Clonliffe men on the start-line as two teams were fielded by Joe Cooper. From the starters gun Mark Kenneally took the lead and literally ran away from the field in majestic style, by lap three of the six lap race it was really only a question of how much Kenneally would win by as he pulled further and further away from the chasing pair of Gary Murray (St. Malachy’s) and Gary Thornton (Galway City Harriers), over the final half lap Kenneally relaxed and down the home straight a broad smile broke out on his face as he was clearly thrilled to win his first National by a fourteen second margin over Thornton with Murray placing third.

Chris Cariss was Clonliffe’s next scorer in eighth place, another tremendous effort from Chris who was running his first race in some eleven months after a serious injury. Today Chris collected his third National gold medal in succession. As always in the Nationals Sergiu Ciobanu ran an outstanding race three seconds behind Chris Cariss in ninth place and the final scorer in fifteenth place was John Heneghan winning his first National team medal.

A great run also from Brian McMahon in sixteenth place, in particular taking into account that Brian is involved in heavy marathon training for Paris in a months time this was a magnificent effort as Brian defied the critics to show that he is not simply a mud lark.

Gary O’Hanlon also had a superb run in 21st place after his disappointing run in Bilbao Gary showed that he is getting back to his best again. A very good outing also from Lorcan Cronin, the first of the ‘B’s’ in 30th place and also from Michael MacDiarmada in 39th place. Ernie Ramsey ran very well in his first National Senior taking 70th place and Nigel Brunton rolled back the years back in 88th place.

When the results were totted up it showed that Clonliffe had achieved a comfortable victory on a total of 33 points from Raheny Shamrocks on 52 points with DSD third on 87 points. The Clonliffe B Team placed 7th on 227 points.

Great things were also expected of the Junior Men’s Team who were the defending champions. The team was led by Jayme Rossiter who as always gave it his all finishing an excellent fifth place behind Junior Champion John Travers of the host club Donore Harriers, Liam Tremble was second and Emmet Jennings was third.

The Clonliffe Juniors packed well, however, unfortunately came up against a very strong Raheny squad today and indeed from the first lap Raheny always had the upper hand and always looked the more likely winners.

Mark McKenzie was the second Clonliffe scorer in 14th place with Jordan Logue 15th, Conor McGuinness was the fourth scorer in 17th place.

Of the other Clonliffe athletes Eric McCann was 18th and Ian Guiden was 26th, both athletes being very disappointed with their run on the day. Graham Mahon as always toughed things out and was 28th – 8,000 metres is a long way for an 800 metres man!

Congratulations to Raheny Shamrock who won the team event on 39 points from Donore Harriers on 46 and Clonliffe on 51 points.

The Senior Women’s race was won in emphatic style by DSD’s Linda Byrne who was truly dominant and led her team home to the team title on 50 points from North Belfast Harriers 54 points and Sportsworld 3rd on 58 points.

The Clonliffe Ladies placed fifth courtesy of a 14th place finish from Becky Woods, 20th place by Louise Reilly, 33rd Ailish McDermott with Mags Grennan two places back in 35th position.

The Junior Women found the distance extremely testing, this is a very young squad all of whom can be proud of their run on the day. Aisling Ahern was 13th, Roisin Leahy 14th, Laura Brennan 15th, Elaine Begley 17th, Lorna Begley 19th and Niamh Hussey 20th. The girls place fourth behind DSD first on 26 points, Raheny Shamrocks second on 42 points and North Laois 3rd on 52 points, with the Clonliffe girls 7 points further adrift.

As is par for the course at athletics National Championships these days controversy arose as the runaway winner of the Junior Women’s race DSD’s Siofra Clerigh-Buttner was disqualified as she was an illegible runner on age grounds. The rules providing that a Junior athlete must be aged 16 or 16 in the year of competition meaning that Siofra was a year too young.

From a Clonliffe perspective again the Nationals proved to be a most successful day with the Senior Men continuing their dominance, a superb individual victory from Mark Kenneally, the first individual Clonliffe Champion since Noel Cullen back in 1993 also, by coincidence, achieved in The Park, team bronze for the Junior Men, solid performances from the Senior Women and for the first time in a number of years a full team from Clonliffe in the Junior Women’s event. Congratulations to all our athletes and to the Club captains and their team of coaches.