Glory days: four in a row

Mar 11, 2007 [Noel Guiden] Another day of glory in the history of Clonliffe Harriers : Saturday the 10th of March 2007. The day our senior mens team retained the title of National Club Champions making it four in a row. It was also the day that the bright future of this club was confirmed by reason of the wonderful performances of our Junior men and women both taking team bronze medals back to Santry.

The 2007 Nationals were held way out west at Sligo Racecourse on a very demanding course which “featured” several long tough energy sapping hills. The strong head wind at the bottom of the course added to the test. Underfoot conditions were suprisingly dry after the rain of recent days. A large contingent consisting of four full teams, coaches, officials and supporters had made the journey from Santry.

At 1pm sharp the Junior Womens race started. From the gun the most impressive DSD squad hit the front and took control, in the early stages Clonliffe`s Becky Woods went with the lead group, however, the early pace took it`s toll as Becky slipped back, however, never panicking Becky continued to battle and finished in the top 10 placing 9th. Up front Rebecca Ffrench O`Carroll was a very impressive winner in 23:17, 2nd Suzanna Huet 23:44, 3rd Bryany Treston 24:05 (all DSD). In the team Clonliffe`s girls (Becky 9th, Sarah Woods, 16th, Ciara Heneghan, 18th and Kate Purcell, 19th) took a superb bronze. Team winners as expected were DSD with Ferrybank AC 2nd.

The Junior mens race featured our highly rate, but very young team. And what a race was served up. From the start the Clonliffe colours were to the fore with all our lads well up. Through out the race David Flynn was at the front, taking the lead on occasions and pushing the pace. Metro St. Bridget`s John Coghlan was very much the pre pace favourite and lived up to that billing remaining at the front. The other lead athletes were Dave Rooney of Raheny and Michael Mulhare of North Laois.These four began pulling away and on the final lap of the 8K David Flynn was dropped to fourth place with a gap of several meters to Mulhare.But boy does David Flynn have a finish !On the final up hill drag he takes Mulhare and at the last turn he`s overtaken Rooney for second and closing at a rate of knots on Coghlan. In the end Coghlan holds on to win by two seconds from David. So David Flynn in his first serious year of running is runner up in the Nationals. Amazing!

The rest of the team performed with equal effort and guts.Colm Murray and Tony Kavanagh had great races for 18th and 19th places.Young David Fitzmaurice, such is the heights he sets for himself, was very disappointed with his run in 21st place. Others disagree and point and to him how well he actually ran and the contribution he had made to his team, more importantly he is very young and has more years at junior level to come. The other lads also ran exceptionally well in a very tough race Mark McDonald 27th, Micky McAnallen 32nd, Eoin Pearce 34th and Larry Brady 36th. The lads took team bronze with 60 points. 1st team were St Malachy`s 43, with Ferrybank, again 2nd on 59.

Our Senior Womens team found the jump in class from Intermediate to Senior tough. Up front there was real class on view as a great race took place between local girl Mary Cullen of Sligo AC and European U/23 silver medalist Fionnulla Britton. These two pulled away and raced neck and neck until about 2,500m remained of the 8k when Britton took off to come home a very impressive winner in 29:11 well clear of Cullen 29:35 with Deirdre Byrne well back again in 3rd 30:46. Of the Clonliffe girls Fionnula Doherty, currently training hard for London, had an excellent run to 41st place, coming through the field picking off place after place. Emma Cooper, despite two falls on the last lap was next home in 49th. Tara Whyte was 52nd just ahead of Captain Bronagh NiBhrian 55th. The girls placed 8th team. Winners were North Belfat 47 points, Sli Cualann 52 and Raheny 72.

Finally it was the turn of our senior men.The lads were under a lot of pressure. They were the defending champions and had been so for the last three years.Our old North Dublin rivals Raheny Shamrocks were very close in 2006 and were making serious noises this year.DSD would also be there or there abouts, plus of course the Northern clubs.

From the off Mark Kenneally made his presence felt as he took the lead along with DSD`s Joe Sweeney and St. Malachy`s Gary Murray. Well up at this early stage was Colm Rooney sitting in 5th after the second of the small laps. Gradually the lead was down to Mark and Gary Murray with Mark taking the pace, driving along, testing and trying to break Murray. These two pulled away from Sweeney who looked in trouble but found his form again to run a superb race to 3rd.Shoulder to shoulder the lead two ran until the 2nd last lap went Murray went for it opening a gap which Mark couldn`t close. At the finish Gary Murray was again National Champion 38:19. Mark was again runner up 38:34 (2005 repeated) with Joe Sweeney 3rd 38:55.

Killian Lonergan is a phenomenon.Just back after injury. Lack of races. So he`ll take it easy and work his way through.Easier said than done but he did it! He was absolutely flying over the final 3 laps cutting through the field and giving his all for his club, over those laps he must have made up at least 10 places catching Colm Rooney in the run in to take 8th place one ahead of Colm, who it must be said excelled over 12,000m (a tad over distace for a 1500m man!).

Throughout the race Cian mcLoughlan ran a solid race.Always there, dependable as ever coming home 4th scorer in 13th place to take the club to a 4th in a row National Championship.

Of the rest of the team Sergiu Turea was an impressive 19th, in what may have been his best race to date in a Clonliffe vest.Aidan Bailey placed 34th, Robert Malseed, dispite suffering from a head cold again came up trumps in 41st with Gary O`Hanlon coming home in 50th.

Team result: 1st Clonliffe Harriers 32points, 2nd DSD 46, 3rd Raheny 64.

This was a marvelous weekend for the club and for our sponsor HIRECO TRAILER RENTALS.Credit must go to Joe Cooper our Captain and to the coaches,and club officials for the success we enjoyed but the true credit goes to our athletes for their dedication to this club and their sport they are a credit to the club, their families and in particular themselves.