Nov 22, 2009 [Noel Guiden] The National Inter County Championships and Juvenile even ages were held today at Kilbeggan Race Course, County Westmeath. Underfoot ranged from wet and sticky to muddy and sloppy, thrown into the mix were bitingly cold gale force winds and driving rain (which cleared up just as the juvenile programme concluded). These were conditions which questioned the resolve of even the most committed, and that`s just the spectators. Local Kilbeggan farmers store did a roaring trade in fashionable wellies that has one unnamed Clonliffe club official well ready for Oxygen 2010.
An excellent senior men`s race, the last on the card, kept all on thier toes. By this stage the wind was up even more battering the athletes as they made their way over the extreamly testing 10,000m . From the off Mark Kenneally was at the sharp end of things, however, couldn`t shake off the pack and with 3,000 to go Andrew Ledwith took over the running and in a flash had opened a gap on our man of 10, 15, 20 meters. Ledwith kept up the pressure and came home a most impressive winner, with 100m to go Mark was overtaken by Sean Connolly to finish in third place. Yet again in a National championship Mark goes away disappointed, however, is consoled with European selection. Sergiu Ciobanu got back to racing after his Dublin Marathon heroics finishing a strong 10th. Michael McDiarmada also ran well finishing 47th. Brian McMahon was forced to pull up mid race.
Mary Cullen as expected was in a class of her own in the senior women`s race, running superbly and winning with ease, a simply magistical performance. Becky Woods ran very well, particularily over the first half of the race and finished 18th , more importantly , unofficially 3rd U/23 and hopefully selection for the Europeans (official announcement this week). Our other girls also ran very well, Louise Reilly 24th and Ailish McDermott 39th.
In the junior men`s race young David Fitzmaurice had been suffering badly all week with an infection and was clearly very much under par as he slipped back down the field from the lead pack to finish 24th, heart breaking after putting in such good work these last three months. Mark McDonald continues to make good progress after injury and looked strong today as he placed 20th. Eric McCann was 32nd and Conor McGuinness 34th. Jamie Rossister was running well in the top 30th, however is missing from the results (update to follow). Our only runner in the Junior Women`s race was Sarah Finnegan who battle on gamely through the mud finishing 26th.
In the National Juvenile programme held in the rain earlier in the day we had a small but determined group out (results not available yet, so update will follow). First away was Rachel Murray in the U/14 girls, Rachel finished mid pack. Our only runner in the girls U/16 was Laura Brennan who ran yet another gutsy race. U/16 boys saw a good performance from all the team with Ian Guiden finishing 19th (and winning Inter County silver with Dublin), Liam Ashton running solidly, and both Ryan Cashel and John Buckley coming nicely through the field, a good run also from Conor King. This is a good little team who are developing nicely into a strong unit.
Finally onto our U/18s. Good to report first off that we fielded full teams in both girls and boys races. The girls were lead home by Denise Callaghan, followed by Aisling Aherne, and Lorna Begley and Roisin Gallagher after a race long battle. The boy`s race saw Fintan Doherty dig in well finishing well up the field (around 35th) to lead the team home. Good runs also from Andrew Jenkinson, Graham Mahon (an 800m man in shock at these conditions!), Johnny Bradly Ward and Herbert Innocent.