Great runs in Limerick but the Fox Escaped!

Great runs in Limerick but the Fox Escaped!

The one type of Fox-hunting I can get behind is the annual intervarsity Cross Country contest which takes place each year at this time. Each of the Colleges set up their banners and proudly don their colours as the finest young distance talents in the country test their mettle over the turf. The trophy for the men’s event is the famous “Green Fox” and it has lived the last two years of its storied life in Galway, after a long hiatus since 1979. The course was a brilliant one but tough – consisting of 1 mile loops with a fast flat section with some chicanes, bales to hurdle and an absolute gut-sucking brute of a hill. At least it was bone-dry!

The girls chargin up that first hill!

The “Three-peat” was going to be tough this year for the Galway men. UL’s team was bolstered by the likes of Spain’s Jose Ignacio Giminez (who boasts an incredible 13:33 5km pb), Oisin Spillane and Mark Hanrahan, along with the classy eurocross Gold medal winner and varsity 10k/5k champion Thomas Devaney. DCU’s team was also killer in depth with Moy Valley’s finest Keelan Kilrehill leading a squad containing the likes of Daniel Stone and Cathal O’Reilly.

Though Galway had lost the iconic Donal Devane and Finley Daly, the general depth in the squad was impressive thanks to the addition of solid first-years Oisín Davis and Oisín Murray and with the established quality of Donal Farren, Luke Johnston, Sean Cotter, Aaron Brennan, Kyle Moorhead, Jack Maher, Cormac McDermott and Patrick Noonan behind their talisman Thomas McStay, they would pack very well.

Unfortunately for the UG lads, disaster struck on the week of the race as their strongest pairing of Thomas McStay and Sean Cotter were struck down by injury and illness respectively. Eurocross athletes Thomas had a back injury which ruled him out and Sean was very sick – he manfully togged out and started the race but found he was unable to continue after less than 1km.

With the two stars down the rest of the team battled bravely but fell just short – ultimately finishing third on 87 points, with 65 winning Gold. It’s fair to say that if either Sean or Tom had been running and ran like they typically would, the Fox would likely be staying put but trophies aren’t won on hyphotheticals! Craughwell AC’s Patrick Noonan and Oisin Davis ran the first half together, but the 8km distance is a long way for Oisin at this stage of his development and when Patrick pushed on at half way he had to let him off. Kyle Moorhead is an 800m specialist but showed a fantastic endurance base by staying well up the field throughout the race. Six score and in the end, the three Craughwell AC lads contributed to the UoG Scores with Patrick finishing 12th overall from the 112 competitors (26:07), Oisin 17th (26:33) and Kyle 25th (27:03). The UG team were led home by Donal Farren in 7th and Luke Johnston in 10th (despite a tumble over the bales) and Oisin Murray in 16th were the other (non-Craughwell) scorers. Brilliant performances from all the lads and a well-earned Bronze. Ben Ryan ran for Queens University on his OYD and finished a solid 74th position. The race was won improssively by Keelan Kilrehill who pulled away from the Spaniard “Nacho” with some powerful front-running.

If the Craughwell boys tend to run for UG, the girls lean towards UL! Sinéad Gaffney finished in 28th and managed to score on a strong UL team who just missed Bronze by a whisker. Sinead was followed home by Emily Miskella in 58th. A regular at our training sessions, Helena O’Keeffe of Loughrea was 30th in a fine run. Caron Ryan is studying in UL but continued to show her loyalty to her old Trinity Coach Iain Morrison by exercising her “One year down” to run for Trinity and despite carrying a hip injury she finished well up the field in 44th. UG Athlete Fiona Everard of Bandon AC won the ladies race impressively, pulling away from the pack smoothly at half-way and looked fantastic with over a 20s lead at the finish.

All smiles at the Banquet afterwards


All at Craughwell AC would like to extend our deepest sympathies to UoG Endurance Coordinator/Coach Matt Lockett and family, on the untimely passing of his Dad before the race on Saturday. May he rest in peace.

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