For a long time there has been talk. The National inter club in February/March dying on it`s feet, clubs struggling to get out teams, athletes focusing on other matters, with no prospect of World Cross Country anymore, many don`t a have reason to run cross country at this time of the year. Meanwhile the Inter Counties now thrives in November with places in the European Cross Country up for grabs and healthy fields as a result.
Recent positive sound bites gave cause for optimism of the saving of inter club cross country: the inter clubs moving to November and acting as the selection race for the Europeans. More recent sound bites however appear to have dashed those hopes: the amalgamation of both “Nationals” is off the agenda.
Surely, however, after yesterday`s pitiful support of what was in the past the cross country race of the season, the time for talk is over. It`s now time for action.
A few simply facts and figures:
The senior women`s race at the inter counties had 50 finishers. Yesterday`s inter clubs almost 50% less with 27. From the top 10 finishers in the inter counties 4 competed yesterday. There were 5 teams in the inter clubs all from Dublin. Not 1 club from the rest of the country!
Senior men: Inter counties 147 finishers, inter clubs less than 50% with 71. From the top 10 finishers in the inter counties 2 competed yesterday. A more healthy 10 clubs took part in Dundalk with 7 Dublin clubs but only 3 from the rest of the country.
It`s even more worrying at junior level, the future of our sport. While a comparison of the top 10 individuals is not appropriate, as many who competed in November are no longer juniors in March, a comparison of numbers completes the sorry tale.
Junior women: inter counties 33 finishers. Inter clubs nearly 2/3rd less at 12. With only 2 clubs supporting, both Dublin.
Junior men: inter counties had 50 finishers, yesterday`s inter clubs 40% less at 30, with 5 clubs fielding teams, 3 from Dublin and 2 from outside.
If cross country is to survive this crisis the immediate attention of the Competition Committee of Athletics Ireland is required. All this by the way when we are apparently in the midst of a running boom!!