The All Ireland Schools cross country brought the curtin down on a long hard cross country season this afternoon at St. Mary`s College, Galway. After a season lasting some six months those athletes hoping that the course would be kind today were sorely disappointed as the tight course in st. Marys was to say the least challenging. There were some seriously steep hills to negotate including one particularily bad knee jarring downhill into a tight corner. Throw in soft underfoot which turned to ankle deep sticky mud as the day wore on, it was not a day for the faint hearted. Clonliffe Harrier of the day was without a doubt young Cathal Doyle who ran the race of his life in the Junior boys race over 3,500m. Cathal was in the top 4 throughout and at half way moved effortlessly into third and then second looking extreamly comfortable as he took All Ireland silver, a magnificent achievement and a brillant turn around from fourth in Leinster to second in Ireland.
First Clonliffe athletes of the day in action were the lads running for St. Aidans in the minor boys race. this was the biggest race these lads have run in todate and it was pretty daunting for them. All ran well with a particularily fine run from the ever improving Sean Carrig leading St. Aidans home in 22nd place to a great team silver. Joseph Hession found today tough going but still ran a good team race to score in 49th place and a great run also by Gregory Hennessy in 71st.
The Junior boys race of course featured that great run from Cathal Doyle, however, their were equally fine runs also here by Adam O`Brien finishing in 7th place, David O`Hanlon 25th (David was also 25 last year!), Brian Flanagan and Philip Keenan in 66th running one of his best races todate. Unfortunately the St. Aidans lads lost out on an All Ireland medal on countback, level with St. Malachys on 125 in third place. Hard luck also in this race for Alex Gibbons who had a bad fall at the start and received a nasty kick to the head forcing him out at the off.
There were high hope for a Clonliffe win in the Inter Boys race for Aaron Hanlon, third last year. Aaron good a good start and look comfortable in second place, however, as the pressure was applied his legs were clearly sapped of energy as he slipped off the pace. 8k in the Nationals 13 days ago took it`s toll. Aaron slipped back to 5th, he may have got up to third but for an off course excursion on the last bend into the home staight. Liam Ashton also found the going hard, the tight beds and sharp hills not suiting his tall frame, Liam placed 33rd, but no doubt brighter days lie ahead.
Roisin Leahy was our only girl in action today. Another tough race in a long season as she placed 33rd.
Finally in the senior boys race over 6,000m after a bright opening lap or two Ian Guiden also found things not to his liking falling off the pace and finishing up disappointed in 11th place. Fintan Doherty was today running his final schools cross country race, no doubt he similarily is glad to see the back of the mud as he finished well down the pack.
A word of congratulation to Kevin Dooney of Raheny Shamrocks on his superb win in the senior boys race adding this title to his National Junior won in Santry 13 days ago to complete a truely wonderful season. Well done Kevin.
Also on the subject of Schools Cross Country on Thursday last Sally Aherne won the West Leinster Cross Country league race in the Phoenix Park over 1500m.