Nov 28, 2011 [Noel Guiden ] Sligo racecourse in the shadow of Ben Bulben was the venue for yesterday’s National Inter-Counties and National Juvenile even ages Cross Country Championships. A tough course which had several difficult hills including a very long drag towards the finish was made even tougher by the persistent rain the previous day and night making underfoot conditions exceptionally difficult. The hills, ankle deep mud and strong wind all contributed to a race which was universally described as hellish. There was a large contingent of Clonliffe athletes in action with the men’s race featuring a number of athletes who would hope to make the Clonliffe National Inter-club team. The big news only a matter of four weeks after the marathon was the excellent performance of Gary O’Hanlon. Post race a delighted Gary with clenched fists announced: ‘I am back!’
The first race of the day with Clonliffe interest was the boys U/14 3000m. A great performance by a depleted team which in particular featured a superb run by Adam O’Brien breaking into the top ten as he finished very strongly to take three places over the last 250m and take an impressive 9th place. There were also impressive performances from David O’Hanlon in 35th, Joseph Hession, running a year out of his age and Sean Carrig. The team placed 5th, bearing in mind that this is the first season these lads have been together, a bright future is in prospect. Adam was rewarded for his fine run with an individual bronze medal as a result of his top ten finish and inter-county gold for Dublin.
In the girls U/18 both Roisin Leahy and Laura Brennan coped well with the conditions – Laura in particular revelled and post race even said that she ‘very much enjoyed the race’. Both girls took inter-county bronze and regional silver.
The junior’s men’s race incorporated the U/18 championship. Ian Guiden after a bright opening 2k suffered badly in the second lap to slip down the field but battled on and with a strong final lap pulled back a number of places to finish 5th U/18. The other members of the U/18 team battled on gamely with Conor King next scorer closely followed by Liam Ashton and John Buckley. Ian took inter-county gold and regional gold on the Dublin team. Fintan Doherty was 21st in the junior race also winning inter-county gold. Up front Jake Byrne (Mullingar) took a fine junior title from Kevin Dooney (Raheny) and Liam Brady (Tullamore). Louise Hill – Sterling was 13th in the junior women’s race.
Finally the senior men running over 10,000 metres. Up front Joe Sweeney (DSD) was the class of the field as he took his second successive inter-county title. Gary O’Hanlon looked extremely classy as he skipped across the mud finishing very strongly over the second half of the race to finish an excellent 11th. An impressive run also by Brian McMahon in 16th whilst two of our younger athletes Dave Fitzmaurice and Jayme Rossiter both ran fine races with Fitzi 23rd and Jayme 28th. They were 4th and 6th U/23. Unfortunately Dave Flynn did not run to his usual standards and having slipped through the field dropped out just over half way. John Hennigan running in his home county colours of Sligo was 39th with Eoin Pearse 47th.
All in all a pretty good day for Clonliffe with some athletes showing very good form over the country as we look towards the National on home territory at the end of February.