Cross Country Season kicked off in traditional style this weekend with the Galway Even Ages and Senior Championships. The Championships was hosted in Ballybrit jointly by Tuam AC and Castlegar. (All the pictures in this article are credit of John O’Connor – check out his flickr for more brilliant shots.)
William Fitzgerald cemented his reign as king of Galway Cross Country with a dominant win in the Men’s senior race, his third title in a row. William’s plan was to “sit in” for 3km and “have fun” for 3km and he stuck to it. William, Paddy and Oisin sat behind the talented Abas for 3km and then William made his move, dropping the lads. William was followed home by Oisín Davis in 2nd. Oisin made his move with about 1500m to run. Patrick Noonan finished solidly in 4th with Piotr Prokop (14th) and Fergus Kelly (15th) making up the remainder of the winning team.
Helena O’Keeffe emulated William in the women’s race with a fine win and was followed home by Grainne McDaid (Silver) and Ailbhe Miskella (Bronze) for a clean-sweep for the Craughwell Women. Grainne Tuohy won the u20 race and scored on the women’s team to bring the title to Craughwell for the first time in many years.
Unusually, the u18 men’s 5km started when the senior men’s 6km neared the 1km mark so they acted like “rabbits” for the top Seniors. I wasn’t sure about the format but it worked well. Luke O’Sullivan delivered one of the breakout performances of the day, pushing the pace with the top senior men for much of the way in his u18 race out of age to come to a clear victory ahead of some stiff competition with fast-improving teammate Liam O’Connell winning Bronze. Anna McKernan had a great run in the u18 girls, in medal position until her wheels came completely off with 150m to go and she was forced to walk to recover. She recovered bravely to come 6th.
The event was running 30-minutes ahead of schedule and Stephen Ruane almost missed the start of his u16 race, but sprinted to the startline and got stuck in from the gun. In the end he finished second behind an exceptional South-Galway athlete and ahead of some very strong competitors.
Claudia Coyle was an impressive winner of the u16 Girls race, learning from her experience last week and pacing herself better over the first half for an exceptional win.
Alan Hallinan led his team to victory by winning the U14 Boys race with teammate David Frazer in Bronze. Sean Cleare (6th), Donal Coyle (8th), Oisin O’Donovan (9th), Zach Keane (12th) and Charlie Daniels (13th) completed the winning team.
Luke O’Dea (15th), Erik Daniels (16th) and Paul Egan (17th) ran together as a unit in the u12 Boys race while Laoise Colleran (8th) and Amberly Finn (19th) ran very strongly in the u12 Girls. Noah Fahy came 25th in a large u10 boys race. Ciara Ward (3rd), Olivia Rooney (22), Freya Wholihan (25) and Heidi Smith were brilliant in the u10 Girls race and unlucky to finish a narrow 4th.
After the event Craughwell AC were the proud recipients of the Inaugural Conor Slevin Shield for best Club at the Castlegar Open Cross Country, presented to the club by Castlegar Chairman Decky Madden. The shield remembers a young Castlegar member who died tragically in 1977.
It was also a busy weekend in road running. Emily Miskella won the Grey Lake 10k in Loughrea on Sunday. Also on the roads her brother Jack Miskella snagged a nice personal best with an impressive 15:33 top-20 finish in Rathfarnham 5km, with Sinead Gaffney also clocking a fine 18:12. Jamie Fallon ran the Vitality London 10k and the wheels came off from 5km but he held it together for a very solid 31:05.