The Loftus Report: Surf`s up on Skerries Beach

Kevin Loftus reports from Skerries Beach, County Dublin: With the sun only barely permeating the clouds,never mind splitting the stones, the first round of the renowned Juvenile Spring Series was organised and facilitated by the very warm and hospitable hosts, Skerries Athletic Club this Sunday afternoon.  Whilst incorporating races for all age groups and catering for athletes of all abilities,  keen emphasis is placed on runners participating to finish the race, regardless of place number or ranking.  Promoters of the series encourage and motivate young aspiring boys and girls to compete to gain experience in an open and non exclusive environment, where enjoyment and satisfaction are seen as an accomplishment and reward.  That being said, many brave and determined athletes; some having vast experience and versatile knowledge of the sport, whilst others being first timers were more than delighted to receive a complimentary Creme Egg upon finishing the race,

An inescapable, energy draining prevailing wind swept effortlessly across the weather beaten bay for much of the day’s proceeding, with a steady and persistent mist of rain gathering imminently in the porous sand.  Athletes and supporters alike gathered in their droves to offer assistance to course builders who provided competitors with a simply built but effectively engineered lap; incorporating a shallow puddle of freezing sea water for an increased level of difficulty.  Those who found themselves on the strand today will attest to the fact that the conditions could only be described as bitterly cold, one supporter referring to the weather as being part of an unprecedented Arctic Spring.  Nevertheless, athletes with capabilities spanning across a large spectrum competed with much enthusiasm and determination, a wonderful joy to see given many are still in their formative years.

To recount the day’s racing in it’s entirety would prove exhausting to even the most experienced reporter, so below is a brief summary, recounting the thrilling competition at a grassroots level witnessed by spectators.  However, it must be said that all of our young competitors should feel immensely proud of their achievement today for participating, given the horrendously atrocious weather conditions.
In the Under 8 Girls race officials were remarkably impressed to see such a large field toe the line, many of whom were competing for their first time.  Running a distance of 300 m, Sophie McDonald (Portmarnock) looked particularly strong as she roared down the back straight to clench 1st in her age group, with Tia Kodia and Mia McLoughlin following suit to finish 2nd and 3rd respectively; the three girls packed tightly together with only a mere second separating each of them.  The timetable of racing moved unsurprisingly quickly, our amiable hosts known for their impeccable efficiency.  Moving seamlessly on to the Under 8 Boys, where a Portmarnock U/8 double was completed as Jack O’Connor proved triumphant, claiming 1st ahead of George Howard 2nd and Evan Bryce 3rd.  The trio managed to elude many of the other athletes in the latter half of the race to come home victorious.
Meanwhile the Under 10 Girls battled vigorously around the gust ridden track with a distance of 600 m, where Shauna Prior of the host club Skerries AC emerged as a jubilant winner, surpassing both Shona Gogarty who placed 2nd, and Rubi Farrell who placed 3rd within the last 100 m of the race.  Likewise in the Under 10 Boys race, Sean  Cronin (Clonliffe) saw the seeds of consistent training come to fruition when he out ran Luke Smith 2nd and Ben Fagan 3rd, the three leading a large contingent of committed runners behind them.
Increasing in age category, next to be called to the start line (with a frequently inaudible electronic speaker, hampered in part by the severity of the howling wind) were the Under 12 Girls.  In a most exciting race, where there was fierce competition among the early leaders for the biggest Creme Egg it seems, another Skerries victory was secured as Daphney Ndjatang managed to reign supreme over almost all of the 900 m distance, with Celtic club mates Keelin Collins and Leah Butler battling frivolously away to claim 2nd and 3rd positions respectively. Clonliffe`s  Jonathan Fitzsimons came from behind to claim the top spot in the Under 12 Boys race, where early leader Luke Hannigan settled happily for 2nd with Harry Byrne just shy of the mark to finish a great 3rd.
Within half an hour the event managers had fully comleted three quarters of the races scheduled, including both the Under 14 Girls and Boys.  The Under 14 Girls competed without apprehension across a mildly daunting distance of 1200 m; revealing Claire Murphy (Celtic) as the deserving winner.  Claire lead the chasing pack for the most part, with Katie Halpin and Holly Roche close on her tail, these girls garnering prestigious 2nd and 3rd place finishes respectively. Coaches remarked that the Under 14 Boys displayed very encouraging progress as they rounded the course lap twice; Josh Ericson providing yet another home win for Skerries AC separating himself in 1st from a tightly contested, frantic surge to the finish line between Conor Murphy and Lorcan Devine, the former proving superior in this instance.
Finally, the Under 16 and 18 age groupings for both Girls and Boys races were combined to prevent the looming threat of the unsavory weather approaching from hampering the already enormously  successful day of fun-filled competition.  The Under 16 Girls offered outstanding performances, with Dora Medgysey (Celtic) prevailing as the victor with Anna Prior a terrific 2nd and Lottie Simons super 3rd.  The sole competitor in the Under 18 Girls race, Eibhlin McCarthy arrived home shortly after the aforementioned trio, to finish a fantastic 1st.  The Under 16 Boys chased home the triumphant winner of the Under 18 Boys race, Stephen O’Connor (Skerries), with immense gusto; where Colin Sweeney (Clonliffe) had a terrific run to finish 1st ahead of club mate Daragh Carter a very encouraging 2nd and Conall Moore a solid 3rd.
This cooncludes the primary leg of the highly sucessful and thoroughly enjoyable Spring Series on Skerries Beach a surface that comes as a welcome respite after a particularly mud trodden XC season.  Clonliffe Harriers wishes to convey its sincere gratitude to our hosts today, who have organised a renowned day of exciting racing for several years to date. Continued commitment and support by both parents/guardians and coaches is an immensely integral factor to the the thriving of the sport, and this must be acknowledged.  Of course congratulations are in order to all of the athletes who competed today.Nil Desperandum.
See Clonliffe Harriers new instagram page, @clonliffeharriers, for all of the latest news of all our athletes, both young and not so young!
Report by Kevin Loftus
Juvenile spring Series Round 1: Results Skerries Beach
Under 8 Girls

1. Sophie McDonald- Portmarnock

2. Tia Kodia – Lusk

3. Mia McLoughlin – Portmarnock

Under 8 Boys

1. Jack O’Connor – Portmarnock

2. George Howard – Celtic

3. Evan Bryce – Skerries

Under 10 Girls

1. Shauna Prior – Skerries

2. Shona Gogarty – Celtic

3. Rubi Farrell – Lusk

Under 10 Boys

1. Sean Cronin – Clonliffe

2. Luke Smith – Skerries

3. Ben Fagan – Skerries

Under 12 Girls

1. Daphney Ndjatang – Skerries

2. Keelin Collins – Celtic

3. Leah Butler – Celtic

Under 12 Boys

1. Jonathan Fitzsimons – Clonliffe

2. Luke Hannigan – Lambay

3. Harry Byrne – Portmarnock

Under14 Girls

1. Claire Murphy – Celtic

2. Katie Halpin – Unattached

3. Holly Roche – Clonliffe

Under 14 Boys

1. Josh Ericson – Skerries

2. Conor Murphy – Celtic

3. Lorcan Devine – Skerries

Under 16 Girls

1. Dora Medgyesy – Celtic

2. Anna Prior – Skerries

3. Lottie Simons – Skerries

Under 16 Boys

1. Colin Sweeney – Clonliffe

2. Daragh Carter – Clonliffe

3. Conall Moore – Skerries

Under 18 Girls

1. Eibhlin McCarthy – Skerries

Under 18 Boys

1. Stephen O’Connor

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