What constitutes a good day. When your day out is a trip to the All Ireland cross country championships your ambition has to be tempered with a little caution as it is the most competitive competition in any sport in Ireland.160 talented and motivated kids start each race so every race is a battle. Before the start we would have been satisfied with a little progression. Of course when your first athlete out on the day manages to blow the doors off with an outstanding performance with a 3rd place finish in his first All Ireland cross country race one has to adjust the ambition.
So it was with young Kevin Finn's performance in finishing 3rd in the Boys U12 2000m race. Kevin is a son of Kevin and Breda Finn of Garrykennedy and with such an assured and composed performance the future looks bright for this young endurance athlete.
Next up were our U14 boys and these boys equalled the endevour of young Finn and almost equalled the result. In the end 7th from Diarmuid Moloney who was out of age and 12th from Ben Walshe was outstanding. They helped Munster finish 2nd in the provincial battle. Also in this race newcomer Thomas Bergin showed huge promise with a top 40 finish and combining with Diarmuid and Ben was part of the 6 man Tipp team which won the county title.
Our U16 boys stepped up next and came into this race hoping to better their 3rd place finish from last year. If its progression we were looking for then our 2nd place finish in the club battle has got to be considered a success. Despite this the team were just a little disappointed to lose by just 8 pts. Tom Walshe in 17th and Cian Hodgins in 19th were running out of age and it sets themselves up nicely for their own U15 All Ireland's in 3 weeks in Dunboyne. Seán Hayes had his best ever cross country race in 40th place and Luke Purcell rounded off the team in 60th.
Next year we will definitely be aiming for top team spot.
Last but not least was our only girl on the day Ailbhe O'Neill running in the combined U18 / 20 race. At just 16yrs old and despite giving away 3 yrs to many of the competitors Ailbhe finished 25th U18 & 39th overall and was the 6th Munster athlete home which helped them win the provincial title from Leinster in 2nd. Ailbhe is primarily a track runner but is now becoming a much more rounded athlete which will really stand to her when the indoor track season starts in the new year.
So it was a good day all around and we have one more All Ireland club day out in three weeks with the uneven age groups in Dunboyne Co Meath on the 15th December.
I do love cross country days.
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