Craughwell AC journeyed to Tattersalls in Meath on Sunday last for the first day of the National cross country championships where the juvenile even age groups and seniors were in action. Highlights of the day for Craughwell AC were the fantastic runs from Jamie Spellman and Damien O’Boyle to place 6th and 17th in the U16 boys 4000m and Sean Cannon and Patrick Noonan’s performance in the U12 boys 2000m which saw them feature on the Galway bronze medal winning team.
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Jamie’s performance puts him in contention for consideration for the Celtic International Cross Country next year, which would be a well-deserved reward for the hard-working athlete. It was a particularly fine run from Jamie and he was unlucky not to have 4th place, being passed by 2 Munster athletes over the final 200m. For Damien whose preferred distance is 800m, it was a remarkable run. Leading at one point in the race and featuring in the top ten for much of the 4000m race, Damien slipped back a little in the second half of the race but put in a blazing finish to move back up and take 17th place – his best performance at this level of cross country.
The Craughwell U18 team put in a herculean effort in their 6k race to try to improve on last year’s 4th place but alas it was not to be and the team had to settle for 4th place again by the tiny margin of 12 points. Nevertheless it was an exceptional performance to yield a team score of 148 points – a 20 point improvement on last year with Conor Gillen 30th, Neil Greaney 37th, Paul Joyce 39th, Nicholas Sheehan 42nd, Matthew Moran 49th, Keelan Ryan 53rd and Paul Fitzpatrick 76th. There was double disappointment for the lads on the day as due to an administrative error, they were announced in 3rd place, medals awarded and almost immediately the result declared void – as the number crunchers revisited the figures for an hour before declaring Craughwell 4th.
In the U14 boys 3k, misfortune befell the Craughwell athletes with Liam Moran badly spiked when leading the race which resulted in him fading down the field. Liam looked comfortable at the front and had he retained a top-10 placing the team would easily have taken silver medals. With ground conditions terrible, many athletes were wearing longer spikes which resulted in lots of spiking with not just Liam but also Brian Loughnane being spiked on the day. A Trojan effort from James Cahalane saw him lead the team home in 18th place followed by a fine performance from Ben Sharkey in 30th. On the official results, Liam and Brian were next in 67th and 69th. We have a small video around 250m from the end which shows Oisin Lyons and Matthew Barrett running adjacent to each other. Matthew went onto to finish 79th but we’re still trying to establish Oisin’s finishing position and are awaiting clarification from Athletics Ireland.
In the girls U16 4000m, Ciara Greene found the conditions tough on the 2000m loop and placed 64th – a little down on her fine performances a year earlier but there will be other days for this super athlete. In the U14 3000m, Aoife Greene placed 120th and looked comfortable throughout despite losing a shoe in the muddy conditions!
The club’s U12 teams had a tough time also on the difficult 2000m loop. The U12 girls were led home by Jennifer Hughes in a fine run to place 85th, followed by sister Rachael who despite a nasty spike gash to her heel placed 94th, Ailbhe Miskella in 96th, Catherine Noonan 147th and Leighla O’Boyle 168th. So bad was the injury to Rachael, she had to go to hospital after the race and received stitches in her heel, but thankfully is making a speedy recovery.
The U12 boys were led home by Sean Cannon in 62nd, Patrick Noonan 90th, Sean Noonan 133rd, Darragh O’Connor 139th and Kyle Moorhead 148th. It was a particularly fine run from Sean who had stepped up an age and one that was good enough to help Galway to bronze medals in the county event along with Patrick who was the 6th scorer on the team.
Final race of the day saw Peter O’Sullivan lead the Craughwell contingent home in the senior inter-counties race with a 44th place finish, followed by Martin Corcoran in 98th and Paul Keane in 108th. The standard of this race is notoriously high with notable athletes such as Paul Pollock winner of this year’s Dublin Marathon placing 22nd.