The Inter Counties All Ireland Cross Country Championships took place in Ratoath, County Meath where athletes had to contend with very demanding conditions with the underfoot very sticky and the going was very soft and heavy.
It was great to see our Senior Ladies and Senior Men’s teams put in sterling performances that saw them win Bronze and Silver medals respectively, while our Junior Men’s team, who had only five finishers due to some late withdrawals, performed very well.
In the Junior Men’s race which was combined with the under 18 race we saw Michael Carey, Clonmel running well when finishing 18th Junior with Patrick Hughes, Thurles Crokes finishing 26th Junior followed by Neil Fox, Clonmel 32nd Junior with Aidan Cremin, Clonmel 43rd and Jack Allen, Clonmel 44th Juniors respectively. These were great performances by this squad as they were all tasting competition at this level for the first time and most of them are eligible again next year.
The next race was the Senior Ladies 8K cross Country Championships and here we saw Siobhan O’Doherty (Borrisokane) going off with the early pace over what was now a mud run and these testing conditions took its toll on everyone with Siobhan battling back over the final lap to finish 12th. Dymphna Ryan of Dundrum ran a brilliant race when finishing 24th. Angela McCann (Clonmel) and Martina O’Dwyer (Carrick on Suir) also ran very well especially over the last two laps to finish 40th and 41st respectively. We also saw very good performances by Claire Annan (Carrick on Suir) 60th and Maria Fitzgibbon (Thurles Crokes) 78th respectively and this team combined very well to beat Donegal by one point for the Division One Bronze medal, brilliant performances all round and a fantastic achievement. This is our best ever performance by a Ladies team in these Championships. Our Previous best was 7th in Division One in 2008.
The last race was the Men’s 10K Cross Country race. Here again we witnessed some great running by the County athletes as they gave it everything in such demanding conditions. Over the five laps our athletes eased themselves into the race and midway through the 2nd lap Niall McCormack (Clonmel) was running well and was the leading County man with Kevin Moore (Dundrum) and William Maunsell (Clonmel) also running well and both were in close attention. David Shelly (Ballynonty) was also running followed by Tony Fogarty (Thurles Crokes) and Shane Mullaney (Thurles Crokes). The athletes were giving it everything in very testing conditions and with six to count they were all making sure that every position counted. They were all brilliant as they produced great performances with Niall finishing 67th, William 75th, Kevin 85th, David 86th, Tony 95th and Shane 120th. The County team were in Division Three and these six athletes combined to win the Bronze medals, brilliant performances all round. The County Men’s team won Division Two in 2000 and were runners up in Division Two in 2001, so it is great to be back competing at Inter County level again.
These Championships saw the County teams return to this level of competition for the first time in quite some time and it was great to witness the magnificent efforts that all our athletes put in as they helped establish the County once again among the leading Counties at All Ireland Inter County Senior Ladies and Senior Men level, it augurs well for the future to know that the County level is at an all time high standard. All going well we should have the County well represented in all the four Inter County Championships in 2013, the talent is there.