In a sport where we put great store in the individual sometimes it's the team that remind us that no man is an island. Going into the race with the Munster champion Cian Hodgins in our team and the team themselves reigning Munster champions we were quietly confident of a good result. Going on club membership we are a very small club by national standards so national team titles as opposed to individual glory can be rare. But a rare group is what we have and they just don't know when they are beaten. With Cian having a slight off day in 13th it was our track 800m bronze medallist Tom Walshe to lead the team home in 8th position. With 600m to go of the 3000m race Tom was 16th but he showed his now famous finish speed getting up into 8th before running out of road at the finish. Indeed Cian who by his own standards was a little flat showed his class by going from 17th to 13th over the same closing stages even though today was not his day. Tom's younger brother Ben Walshe running out of age showed what a class act he is by finishing a very strong 20th place making fifteen places over the second half of the race. We we're anchored home by Micheál Moylan the newest member of this squad who in only his second season with the team improved 101 places over last year by finishing in 54 position. He's one to watch for the upcoming track season in the new year.
The team not only won the club title but also helped Tipperary to second in the county competition and Munster to the bronze medals in the provincial championship so it was a good day all round.
Ailbhe O 'Neill was our only other age group competitor and finished in 55th spot in the girls U16 race . Cross country is not Ailbhe's forte but I'm sure she will benefit from the strength and endurance gained in the upcoming track season.
So in two weeks we head to Navan for the uneven age groups All Ireland Cross country with another team title in our sights plus a couple of very good individuals which will put a wrap on the club cross country season for another year.
My dad's old saying " the same only different" sprang to mind today in Clarecastle as we were still doing cross country only this time it was relays. As I'm quoting all the greats today I'll go with Del boy's it's like de je vue all over again as our recently crowned Munster champs added the U14 relay title to their growing resume . Cian running the opening leg showed why he is a growing force in Irish endurance running when he didn't panic with the fast early start and went on to stamp his authority on the proceedings to hand over to Micheál Moylan with a clear lead. Micheál in his first cross country relay with this team did a fine job of passing over to Ben Walshe the youngest member of the squad with a still substantial lead. Ben running the third leg and his brother Tom running the last leg are classy athletes with a lot of experience at this level and they never showed any signs of relenting the lead . Three of this team won the all Ireland U12 relay two years ago and with another fine athlete in Micheál Moylan bolstering the squad this year they will be hoping to repeat that success after Christmas.
We also had two other squad's out both running first time at this level . Our U12 boys Diarmuid Moloney, Liam O'Callaghan, Mikey Ryan and Ruairí Walshe running in a very competitive race finished 8th. With two running out of age it was a big ask but fearless as ever they tore into the task and will surely benefit from the experience.
Our other squad was the U16 boys and this group had three underage lads but still put up a great performance to finish fourth . Joe Cunningham , the only U16 athlete on the team ran a very strong opening leg handing over to Luke Purcell in third place . Luke battled hard to hand over to Jamie Moloney in fourth position.
Jamie showed his talent to haul them back up to third . Sean Himli running his first relay with the squad did a fine job and was just run into fourth position towards the finish.
We're off to a familiar proving ground next week for the All Ireland even age cross country in Abottstown in Dublin. The squad are in fine form so roll on next week.
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What a contrast at two sporting events in less than 24 hours. Leaving Aviva Stadium after the Ireland / Argentina match you couldn't help but feel let down by an Irish team that lacked motion and pride in the green jersey .I was half expecting Joe to be at the exit gate apologizing and offering our entrance fee back. Jump forward to the Munster Cross Country championships in Two Mile Borris on Sunday and the contrast was palpable . One group a professional outfit with supposedly the best rugby coach in the world couldn't get out of second gear and the other group of amateur athletes who wore their heart on their sleeve giving all for clubs and counties.
But Munster cross country days are special not just because it's a provincial championships but because of the caliber of the athletes who turn up year in ,year out.
This year Nenagh Olympic are continuing to build on a couple of strong years and our group of boys from U13 to U15 are leading the way.
This Sunday it was the turn of the uneven ages and we went into it highly motivated and expecting a good show .We were not to be disappointed coming away with the Gold medal in the U15 club competition and our four club scorers we're also on the Tipp team with six to score who also took the gold medals. Nenagh were led home by Cian Hodgins in 3rd with Tom Walshe 6th , Luke Purcell 12th and Jamie Moloney 15th. Cian & Tom we're running out of age to make it all the more impressive with Luke and Jamie gaining in confidence and getting stronger with each outing.
Out two U13 boys also had high expectations and these boys also ran out of their skin with Ben Walshe 3rd and Diarmuid Moloney 25th in only his fourth race for the club. Both athletes were on the scoring six for the Tipp team that finished 2nd to Cork in the county competition. Ben is rounding into form nicely and there is no better man to have a crack at the top two come All Ireland time in a few weeks .
Our two U17 girls of Ailbhe O'Neill and Lucy Mulcahy did the girls side proud today with Ailbhe 10 th out of age which is probably her best cross country performance to date as she is normally a track specialist. Lucy finished 19th and both of these girls were on the scoring six of the Tipp team that took the silver medals in the county category. Tipperary were led home by Aimee Hayde ,Newport, in 1st place.
Ted Collins was 14th in the boys U17 category and as he is really a track athlete he will be well pleased with his endeavors today.
Our younger athletes didn't medal today but Ruairí Walshe , Mikey Ryan, Aodhán Tucker , Jack Quirke Jones and Lilly Duffy all ran very well in an extremely competitive envoirment and will have gained much from the experience.
Our one and only Senior athlete competing today was Ciara Cummins . Ciara was competing in the senior ladies 6k race which would normally be a little outside her comfort zone but true to form this true competitor dug deep for to finish 8th and help the Tipp ladies win the team competition. Incidentally the Tipperary team were led home by Borrisokane's Siobhán Doherty in 1st position.
So well done to all concerned and in contrast to the day before rather than looking for a refund I felt like throwing an extra fiver in the kitty such was the effort and commitment from all concerned.
Next week we have Munster cross country relays in Clarecastle and the following Sunday See's the cross country band wagon move to Abbottstown, Dublin for the even age All Ireland's.