The fourth annual Brother at your side Clonliffe Schools Invitational Cross Country took place in Santry Demesne yesterday Wednesday October 10th with a tremendous turnout of young athletes many of whom were taking their first foray into the world of cross country. Approximately 1200 athletes took part in the event. Once again the event was blessed with very good weather, drizzling rain only breaking out during the course of the two senior races at the latter end of the programme.
A notable feature of this cross country event is the inclusion of the primary schools races which has attracted tremendous support from schools in the vicinity of the Morton Stadium and indeed further afield. There were huge fields in both the girls and boys primary school races of in excess of 150 young athletes in each.
The Clonliffe Harriers team had put in a great effort to build the course which it must be said was worthy of national championship with superb underfoot conditions and a great turnout of officials who once again gave freely and willingly of their time and deserve every praise and credit for doing so.
Proceedings got underway at 12.30 p.m. sharp with the girls primary school race. Some of the girls were clearly inexperienced and tore off at a rate of knots, Usain Bolt himself would have had difficulty keeping up over the first 100. As the athletes, however, hit the testing drag over the final section of the 1000m loop those who went out a bit too fast paid the price and began slipping back into the clutches of the chasing pack. Down the finishing straight there was a clear winner in Zara Ryan of St. Vincent de Paul ahead of Dublin Educate Togethers’ Ellen-Mary Cronie and Leaha McDonnell also of St. Vincent de Paul. The two athletes in the top three Vincent de Paul were clear winners on 24 points from Mary Help of Christians 43 and Dublin Educate Together 77.
The boys primary schools race attracted an even bigger field as some 175 tore away when released by starter Gerry Carr. Race winner was Simon Whelan (St. John Bosco) ahead of Star of the Sea paring Patrick Tucker and Sam Turner. Again there was a comprehensive win in the primary school boys race as Star of the Sea won on 41 points from Dublin Educate Together on 46 and St. John Bosco 57.
St. Vincent de Paul National School, therefore, won the Brother prize for best girls primary school and Star of the Sea took the boys best primary school.
Before the secondary school programme got underway a special presentation was made by Mr. Paddy Marley, Club President of Clonliffe Harriers to Mr. Sean Sheehan, Managing Director of Brother by way of appreciation of Mr. Sheehan and Brother’s support of this wonderful cross country event.
On then to the secondary school programme where again there was a huge field in the minor girls cross country run over 1000 metres with no less than ten schools represented in this one. Again out of a huge field of over 150 Laura Ward of Presentation College Carlow was the winner from Jodie McCann of Rathdown School and Aisling King of Loreto Dalkey. Loreto Dalkey took the team win on 35 points from St. Dominic’s Cabra and Colaiste Iosagain.
The biggest race of the day was the minor boys race over 1500 metres with a field of almost 200 representing 13 schools. The thunder of these young athletes going down the start straight was music to the ears. It was almost like the start of the Grand National. A thoroughly deserved win from Presentation College Carlow’s Niall Harvey making it two out of two for the school. Second was Conor Halpin of Willow Park ahead of team-mate Liam Turner. Again with two in the top three Willow Park took the team title from St. Patrick’s Classical School Navan who again impressed as in 2011 with Presentation College Carlow 3rd on 40 points.
The junior girls race was dominated by the athletes from Colaiste Iosagain. Hannah Ní Dhea was the winner from Rachel Dunne (St. Colmcille’s Knocklyon) and Grace O’Shea also of Colaiste Iosagain. After some great packing at the front of the field Colaiste Iosagain were clear winners on a very low points scoring of 13 from Loreto Dalkey 54 (DSQ) and St. Gerard’s Bray 62. Again a huge turnout in this race with nine schools represented.
There was another huge field in the junior boys race over 2500 metres. From early in this race Kevin McGrath of St. Patrick’s Navan took up the running and had a clear lead of maybe ten metres heading into the second lap, a lead which he held despite the strong running of Sean Carrig of St. Aidan’s, Sean of course would be well used to Santry Demesne having clocked up mile upon mile training there with his Clonliffe club-mates.
A fine run also in this race from Kevin McKenna of St. Aidan’s with Joseph Hession, also of St. Aidan’s, a matter of seconds down. Clearly St. Aidan’s were the dominant force in this race taking the team win on 19 points from St. Patrick’s Navan 34 and Colaiste Eoin on 68.
The inter girls race provided an excellent spectacle with a great three-way battle for most of the race. Isobel Adlum of Rathdown school was the winner in this race. A great battling performance in second place, however, from Isobel Carron, Skerries Community College, who overcame an early fall to run a most gusty race and finish in second place. Her schoolmate Rhona Pierce was third. Needless to say running like this the Skerries girls were the dominant force in this one to take an excellent win on 32 points from St. Dominic’s Cabra 54 and Muckross Park 91.
Possibly race of the day was the inter boys race. The pace from the starters whistle was hot to say the least, the top half dozen athletes tearing away, there was a real ding dong down the final straight with two athletes neck and neck, in the end Dylan Keegan (Templeogue College) prevailed by a slight margin from Pierce Murchan (St. Declan’s Cabra) 2nd with Colaiste Eoin’s Liam MacGiolla Phadriag 3rd.
Blackrock College prevailed in this one on 49 points from St. Aidan’s CBS 58 and Belvedere College 66. Again the schools must be commended on the support in this race as there were thirteen schools represented.
The senior girls race was low in numbers but high in quality. Making her senior debut was Siofra Cleirigh-Buttner (Colaiste Iosagain) who as expected dominated from start to finish leading a one, two, three for the school as in second place was Clar Ní Charthaigh and Sarah Mhaolmhuire 3rd. The girls from Colaiste Iosagain were the obvious winners on 13 points from Sion Hill on 46.
The final race of the day was the senior boys race over 5000 metres. Over the early stages Ian Guiden headed Killian Mooney and Mitchell Byrne. At halfway Ian Guiden put in an injection of pace and opened a gap which grew as the race drew to its conclusion, in the end he was a comfortable winner to retain the senior title. In fact the first three was a mirror of last years first three, second Killian Mooney, Colaiste Eoin and 3rd Mitchell Byrne, Templeogue College. There was a surprise in the team result as CUS took the senior race from 49 points from St. Aidan’s 51 and Blackrock College 54.
The best girls secondary school courtesy of two wins and a third was Colaiste Iosagain. The best boys school was St. Aidan’s with one win and two second places. Colaiste Iosagain were best overall.
It was a superb days athletics. Clonliffe Harriers would like to thank all the schools who took part and we hope that you all enjoyed your day. In particular Clonliffe Harriers would like to thank our sponsors Brother and Mr. Sean Sheehan the managing director and all the volunteers who gave up their day to assist with the successful running of the event.