A shower before the start of the first race the only rainfall during the Woodie’s DIY national Inter County cross country championships and Juvenile even age group championships at Sligo Racecourse today. Most of the races were held in bright sunshine, but heavy rainfall over the past week mad for heavy underfoot conditions.
The senior men’s race saw a breakaway group of four before halfway in the first of five laps. Dublin’s Joe Sweeney lead the charge and before long Andrew Ledwith from Meath was his only company. Sweeney got stronger as the race progressed and was a decisive winner to repeat his win in Derry last year.
Ledwith was second with Paul Pollock from Antrim third, Michael Mulhare from Laois was fourth and Mark Hanrahan from Cork fifth. Dublin won the team contest with 103 points ahead of Antrim with 109 and Cork with 182.
For much of the senior women’s race there was a close tussle between Sara Louise Treacy representing Meath and Aoife Culhane (Byrne) from Dublin. A tumble on the last lap cost Culhane dearly as she lost contact with Treacy who made the best of her way home to win her first senior title. Cork’s Claire McCarthy finished like a train and overtook Culhane in the closing stages for her best ever finishing place after previously finishing fourth. Kelly Harty from Down was fourth and Eilish Kelly from Roscommon fifth. Cork won the inter county title with 35 points from Dublin on 50 and Meath on 119.
Westmeath’s Jake Byrne, who competed at the NCAA cross country championships in Terre Haute Indiana last Monday, made the trip back from Iona College for the junior race. All through the race he shared the lead with Dublin’s Kevin Dooney and Liam Brady from Westmeath, but made a significant move to the front with 1k to go. Once in the lead he kept on strongly for a good win, with Dooney second and Brady third. Dublin won the team contest with 25 points from Cork with 38 and Meath with 266.
The leaders In the junior women’s race were together for much of the first lap. From then on Dublin’s Siofra Buttner Cleirigh gradually pulled away from her rivals, with Claire McCarthy from Dublin overtaking Kate Veale from Waterford in the closing stages for second. Dublin with 20 points won the inter county contest from Meath with 66.
The U18 boys race was held with the junior men and Sean Tobin (Clonmel AC) proved a worthy winner – actually finishing third over the line. Ruairi Finnegan (Letterkenny AC) was second (fifth in the combined race) and Ian Hartnett (Togher AC) third.
Gina Dolan (Annalee AC) won the girls U18 race with plenty in reserve, with Sorcha Humphries (Dundrum South Dublin AC) second and Bronagh Kearns (St. Senan’s) third.