Our fantasy cross country bus pulled into the national sports centre in Abbotstown this weekend...
Ben Walshe stepped off and proceeded to run right over most of the opposition in a truly astonishing performance for a young athlete who was second in his counties, fourth in his munsters and now third in the U12 All Ireland cross country championships and top Munster man. Ben's great running ability has been apparent since he started running with the club but as an endurance runner, the distances have been a little short for him. He is probably a little tired of hearing "stick with it and your day will come". Well today was that day and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands. He showed his intentions right from the start, getting out well he was in the top 10 for the first half of the 2000m race. On the second of the 1k laps he showed his endurance prowess moving up and past some pre race favorites arriving in 5th with 200m left. He just kept on going and in an amazing sprint finish moved into third position with 50m left for his best finish in a national championship to date. Ben's now legendary smile was only eclipsed by his parents Ronan & Brid's own smiles although I think there were a few tears of joy also not least from his coach who may have let slip his own perceived hard man image.
We had some high hopes also for our U14 boys team of Cian Hodgins, Tom Walshe , Seán Hayes, Luke Purcell and Micheál Moylan as they went into this race as Munster champions. The starters gun went off and Cian went down and in an instant our individual medal hope was gone. What sport give's you , sport taketh away. Tom Walshe got a great start and eventually finished 20th which was a fine performance out of age. He will be looking for a top 10 finish in his own age group in Waterford. Seán, Luke and Micheál all ran solidly in their first All Ireland cross country championships to help bring the team home in a very creditable 5th position.
At this stage Cian's epic run was only getting under way as having started in last place due to the fall he proceeded to show us why he will be one of the favorites going into his own age U13 All Ireland's in a couple of weeks. He carved his way through the field and eventually finished in 22nd position, passing 134 athletes along the way. Tom & Cian were part of the Munster team who finished third in the provisional team championship.
The good ship cross country moves to Waterford on the 17th Dec for the uneven ages All Ireland's.
Can't wait!, now who is going to bring the tissues the next day?