Dunboyne AC at the National Even Ages Cross Country Championships

Dunboyne AC at the National Even Ages Cross Country Championships

The National Cross Country (Even ages) were held in the local and impressive setting of the national cross country course at Abbotstown, Dublin 15, today November 26th. The short journey was welcomed by the Dunboyne AC travelling contingent of 14 athletes, coaches, parents and supporters after our most recent jaunt to Co Wexford. To be expected, the quality of athletes on display today across all age groups was breath-taking with all athletes having to qualify from their regional/provincial championships as individuals or as part of strong County or Club teams. Therefore the cream of juvenile athletics was on display and we were treated to some fantastic contests.

Considering the recent rain during the week, the course held up well with just some very muddy sections in parts of the track, particularly on the two 1,500m loops the under 14’s had to contend with. The underfoot conditions our under 12’s had to negotiate on their two 1,000m circuits were, in the main, fairly sound with just some muddy sections on the last hill approaching the finishing straight. We were blessed with the day, although it was cold it remained dry and the sun came out as the athletes were conducting their warm ups.
There was a huge crowd in attendance for this national event and the resulting traffic congestion around the whole area prompted organisers to delay the start of the first race by 30 minutes to enable as many attending as possible to get there on time.

Eventually the under 12 girls were called up and Dunboyne AC had one athlete on duty. Kate Gormley was proudly representing her age group in the club as part of the Meath team and she lined up to tackle the 2,000m race with 170 other girls from the four corners of the island. Kate got off to a good start and as the race developed she dug deep and picked off runner after runner and finished very strongly up the home straight. Unfortunately the Meath team were out of luck today. Kate’s performances all year have been very consistent and she has shown great improvement and had some great success. We look forward to seeing Kate compete back on the track in 2018 and no doubt she will continue to develop into a fine athlete.
The second race of the day brought our first team to the starting line. The under 12 boys, no strangers to success at all levels, had qualified from the recent Leinster Championships. The team was made up of James McAvenue, Harry Doherty and Liam Jennings (all running their first All-Ireland) plus Mathieu Kieffer, Dylan Ryan and Ciaran McCormack who are veterans of their debut All Ireland XC campaign from last year. Mathieu, Dylan and Ciaran were also on county duty while Ciaran was also part of the Leinster team in the inter-provincial competition. They were joined by the best runners our island had to offer in the age group as 167 athletes toed the line. From the gun our more experienced trio got out fast and after the first 150m or so Ciaran, Dylan and Mathieu were right up there in the mix. As the race settled down Ciaran was most prominent and dug deep to maintain his position throughout and produced a very strong finish to protect his position finishing 27th in this huge field of athletes in what was a fantastic run. Mathieu fought hard and also finished strongly producing another very good run on the big day. Dylan, who was running out of his own age group, also battled well and fought hard throughout bravely holding his own against his elders. Liam came home next after equipping himself very well in his first All-Ireland with a positive display while Harry and James can be proud of their battling runs in what was valuable experience as they continue to learn their trade. Unfortunately the club and county team finished outside the medals this time but Ciaran had the consolation of being part of the Leinster team that finished with a gold medal in the inter-provincial competition.

Our under 14 girls were next up and representing club and county we had Rachel Norman, Holly Conlon, Aoife McCormack and Kayla Ryan, who was also on the Leinster team. They were joined by Niamh Sherlock and Kirsten Kelly Moody who made up the Dunboyne AC team. Again this team booked their All-Ireland starting berth at the Leinster Championships recently after a very strong performance there. From the start, Kayla was always the most prominent of our girls and settled in a group just behind the leaders with Holly and Aoife not far behind. Niamh, Rachel and Kirsten dug in further back and attempted to pick their way through the field. As the race unfolded Kayla delivered a very strong performance and a very fast finish to agonisingly cross the line just one place outside an individual medal, for the second year running. It was frustrating for Kayla but a fabulous run on the day from a very talented athlete. Holly finished next after a very strong run on the day, she battled hard all the way to the line and dug deep to finish well up the huge field of 160 runners. Aoife finished on Holly’s shoulder after putting in a battling performance also while Niamh dug deep throughout to finish next. Not far behind Niamh, Rachel toughed out a performance digging deep in the testing conditions, while Kirsten kept battling throughout and gained some valuable experience at national level. While the club team were outside the medals, the county team were agonisingly close to winning a national medal, finishing in 4th place….. again! Kayla, so close to winning both an individual medal and county team medal got some level of consolidation by winning silver as part of the Leinster team in the inter-provincial competition.

Our final competitor of the day was on County duty in the under 14 boys event. Ross Lyons lined up as part of a Meath team that booked their qualification spot in the Leinster Championships in Navan a few weeks ago. Ross gave his all, got out strongly and mixed it with the best in the country and put in a really strong performance on the day. He delivered a fighting performance and finished very strongly to claim 34th position in yet another huge field of athletes from all over the country. Ross can be very proud of his run.

For many of these athletes representing the club today, this event brings the curtain down on their cross country club season. A lot of hard work went into getting these athletes to this stage and they deserve a lot of credit for all the hard work they have put in and dedication shown in all types of weather. While some will continue running cross country for their schools it will be the track, indoor and outdoor, that will now come into focus for many as we wind down for the Christmas period. Many congratulations to all our athletes on even qualifying for Nationals today, it is an achievement in itself that should not be underestimated. Well done to you all. Thanks to the parents and supporters who came out to support all our athletes so enthusiastically. Finally, best of luck to our athletes competing in the Uneven Nationals on 17th Dec.
More photos on the club’s Flickr page here: https://www.flickr.com/…/72157690157356715/with/24801255758/

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