Objective achieved! Clonliffe athletes successfully negotated their way through today`s (Wednesday) North Leinsters to book places on the starting line for February 6th`s Aviva Leinster Schools Cross Country finals. The North Leinster`s took place in St. Clare`s DCU, Glasnevin thanks it must be said to the Clonliffe crew who gave up their time to build and marshall the course at short notice. The under foot conditions where much better than feared, a rain free day making all the difference and although it was cold it was a perfect cross country day. Highlights from a Clonliffe perspective included an impressive one two in the senior boys race from Messrs. Hanlon and Guiden, another classey run from Cathal Doyle 2nd in the inter boys and team firsts from the St. Aidans Junior and Inter squads.
First of the Harriers in the field were in the minor race. Ruth Bergin comfortable qualifying with a 6th place finish and then Joseph Hutchinson and Fintan McManus in the minor boys race both featuring prominently in the red and white of St. Aidans finishing 12th and 14th, as the team took bronze and Leinster qualification. Next up two of our girls in the junior race and two more qualifiers. Alanah Cooley running a hard race from the off getting into the top 10 at the first bend and successfully defending her placing throughout-9th at the finish. Alanah was chased all the way by Aimee McGrath who today ran the best race of her young career carving her way through the field to place 10th.
The junior boys race had a great collection of Harriers battling away for St. Aidans. Joseph Hession took the honours today top dog in an excellent 4th place with Sean Carrigg 5th after a race long battle. Kevin McKenna was next another good solid run in 8th place. 22nd was Greg Hosseny and Shane Merrigan, still sufferning the effects of a chest infection in 38th. The reward for some fine performances by these guys was team gold.
Laura Tuite was our sole athlete in the inter girls race. Laura did exactly what was required today a fast start, top 10 position and hold that for lap 2. 9th place and a Leinster final to look forward to.
Cathal Doyle ran at the head of the field shoulder to shoulder with a St. Patrick`s Navan clad athlete looking relaxed and cruised home in a comfortable 2nd position leading St. Aidans to another team gold. Adam O`Brien had a fine run today in 4th place. On the run in David O`Hanlon, and for the 2nd race in succession managing to keep his spikes on his feet, over hauled Brian Flanagan, who had possibly his best run to date David 8th Brian 9th. Anto McMahon was next of the clonliffe guys a gutsy 29th, a fine run again today from Thomas Ward 37th with a very off form Paddy O`Hanlon next in 42nd.
Senior boys 1 2: Aaron Hanlon and Ian Guiden
Finally today the senior boys over 6,000m. From the start Aaron Hanlon running for St. Mary`s Drogheda was at the head of the field, with a fairly big bunch including training partner Ian Guiden making his return from injury, and Liam Ashton, carrying an injury. At half way Aaron and Ian pulled smarthly away from the field and ran relaxed side by side until with one to go Aaron was away and took the win from Ian 2nd, Liam 8th and displaying great battling qualities Niall Norman 18th and Ross Kearny 19th, these four taking silver for St. Aidans and safe passage to Santry Demesne in two weeks time.
Thursday was West Leinsters in the wide open space of the Phoenix Park. A huge lap near the Papal Cross, basically run to the horizon turn and run back! Great underfoot conditions though it was cold and damp. Only a few Clonliffe athletes here today. Lauren Carr in the minor girls race was first in action and qualified comfortably taking 7th place. Then Sally Aherne running very well in the inter girls race always well up in the qualifying places, a 8th place finish by Sally. The senior boys for some reason only run 4,000 in the Wests a good solid run by Eoin McCullough to finish looking good and relaxed in 5th place. Race walker Ryan Cleary did not find things much to his liking and finished 50th, although it looks fairly certain that Belvedere will progress to the Leinsters.
The East Leinsters also took place in Wicklow today (Thursday) with Hope Saunders running in the inter girls another Clonliffe success as Hope negotated her way safely through with a good 7th place finish. Unfortunately Mario was just out of the qualifiers in 16th place and Paul Courtney, with a much improved run over his last outing was 37th.
So there you have it…objective achieved….see you in Santry February 6th high noon.