Battling performance in Bilbao mud at Euro clubs

Feb 8, 2010 [Noel Guiden ] Clonliffe athletes performed exceptionally well at the European Champions Clubs Cross Country in Bilbao, Spain yesterday, the highlight of which was yet another world class performance by Mark Kenneally in finishing 6th place in the Senior Men’s 10,000 metre race leading the team to 9th place overall a repeat of 2009. The Junior Team exceeded all expectations with a superb team performance to finish an excellent 6th place only 10 points off a medal position.

The Championships were held in the Parque Etxebarria de Bilbao which is a fairly small city centre park into which the organising club Atletismo Santulxu had managed to fit a 1900 metre lap. Underfoot conditions were exceptionally muddy, ankle deep in many parts and the course itself twisted and wound it’s way around the length of the 1900 metres with many sharp hairpin bends and few long straights. On the day a large crowd estimated at around 6,000 peopled packed into the park.

The Junior Men were the first Clonliffe Athletes in action running a race distance of 6,250 metres. From the gun Jamie Rossiter let his intentions be known as he got himself into the lead half dozen by the first 800 metres. As the race settled down Jamie settled into a position well in the top 20 and he performed magnificently to finish in 15th position. Next Clonliffe man was Mark McKenzie running his best race for some time after a steady start picking off position after position to finish in 30th place. Behind him the rest of the Clonliffe lads packed very well swapping positions and eventually in 34th place Eric McCann was next scorer. Jordan Logue out-kicked Conor McGuinness coming up the final hill to finish 37th with Conor 38th and Ian Guiden seconds behind in 39th place having ran about 6,000 metres with one shoe. The team were rightly delighted with their performances and were rewarded with an excellent sixth position.

The Senior Men’s race featured European Cross Country Champion Alemayehu Bezabeth Desta who was the class of the field successfully defending his title and bringing along his team-mate Ayad Lamdassem, these two crossed the line almost hand in hand. Clonliffe’s Mark Kenneally was in excellent form running a classy race finishing very strongly in sixth position some 30 seconds behind the European champion.

Sergiu Ciobanu again ran very well for Clonliffe in this his first European venture for the club placing 37th. Next Clonliffe man home was Brian McMahon who was a little disappointed with his run finishing in 60th place. Cian McLoughlin running his first race since last September or so was 66th with Lorcan Cronin running very well in this his first European race finishing 75th, unfortunately Gary O’Hanlon had one of those days when nothing went right finishing 86th. When the results came to hand the Clonliffe team finished in 9th place on 176 points.

Overall the club captain was very satisfied with the efforts of both squads and Clonliffe can look forward to the Nationals on March 7th. The lads can be very proud of the professionalism they showed both on and off the field of battle.