North Leinster Championships. 27/1/17.
St. Pat’s Cross-Country team enjoyed great success along with a little heart-break at the North Leinster Championships last Friday at ALSAA sports grounds near Dublin Airport. In what were perfect conditions the school’s Junior, Inter & Senior teams went up against some exceptionally good teams in what is arguably the toughest provincial qualifiers in the country.
The perseverance and never say die attitude of the Juniors shone through as they won Bronze and qualified for Leinster in the narrowest of margins. Marcus Clarke continued his strong showings finishing 5th while Eoghan Moore ran a superb race to cut through the pack over the closing stages, moving from 12th with 1,000 metres of the 3,000 metre course left to go up to 7th. While both performances earned Marcus and Adam qualification in their own right, the team were still working to get through. This put it up to Adam Canning, Matthew Corkery and Adam Boylan who were running 3rd, 4th and 5th. With St. Aidan’s, Whitehall and St. Mary’s, Mullingar packing the field up front it was a straight-shoot out between St. Pat’s & St. Fintan’s of Sutton and St. Pat’s really needed to push hard at half-way when it looked like the team’s chances were fading. Thankfully they were not found wanting and Canning, despite being ill earlier in the week ran a dogged second half to come home in 35th. Hot on his heels was Boylan who put the disappointment of last week’s performance when he lost a spike nearing the end, behind him to pip Corkery for 40th. However, as they had all passed St. Fintan’s 4th man over the closing stages they qualified by a mere two points. Robert Smyth wasn’t far behind as he continues to improve with Tadgh Hanrahan a little further back.
While it was delight for the Juniors the Inters had heart-break when they missed out by seven positions to a strong St. Joe’s of Drogheda to finish 4th and thus miss out on team qualification. It was a credible performance especially as the top two finishers St. Mary’s, Mullingar and St. Aidan’s, Whitehall are regular All-Ireland finalists. That said, despite the great performances from Ryan Sheridan (6th) and Conor Lenihan (14th) who qualified for Leinster individually, it just wasn’t to be on the day as a pod of St. Joe’s runners divided the two from 3rd place finisher Oscar Rogan who just wasn’t able to follow-up last week’s exceptional DCU performance. Shane Smyth, who has another year was 4th for the team, with Matthew Kelly 5th, a returning to fitness Sean Nolan 6th with Thomas Barrett not far behind.
In the final race of the day, Fergus Crilly-McEntee again put in a stellar performance judging his run and pace perfectly to finish 9th while Eoin Smyth, fresh from his Meath Football U-21 training managed a very credible 11th, a great result considering he hasn’t been able to get the same level of training as last year in. The good results however did not stop there as David Hawes also ran a perfect race coming home strong to take 30th, passing a number of athletes on the way in. He was then followed by Aaron Grimes in what was perhaps the individual performance of the day when he too judged this 5,500 metre race to perfection slowly reeling in a number of runners over the latter half and then sprinting home ahead of two others in the closest of finishes. As a result, the Senior managed to beat Dunshaughlin C.C. by a narrow 4 positions and ensure they joined the Juniors in also qualifying.
In an unexpected bonus, because the Seniors do not have a full complement of 8 runners this will now allow a minimum of one runner from those on the Inter team who didn’t qualify to step up in grade and have another run out at this provincial final in little under 3 weeks.
Due to the majority of first years running with the team slightly older than normal and unable to run in the U-14 Minor category the school chose not to run anyone in the Minors year.
Bottom row (l – r) Matthew Corkery, Marcus Clarke, Adam Canning.