The County Cross country season opened in style when the County Novice Cross Country Championships were decided on a firm to good terrain in Powerstown Racecourse in Clonmel on Sunday. The Championships witnessed the debut of a new Club in Tipperary Athletics, Moore Abbey Milers and Tom Blackburn and his team are to be complimented on such a development and going on their performances in Powerstown Racecourse they will soon be a force to be reckoned with.
In the Ladies race the pre race favourite Maria Fitzgibbon of Thurles Crokes set the pace from the start of the 3k event and as the race progressed she increased the pace to come home a very worthy and convincing winner in 11 mins 46 secs. The tussle for the silver medal came down to a sprint finish between the Clonmel duo of Johanna Lacy and Catherine Rice with Johanna edging it very close to the line to win her first Individual Cross Country medal in 12 mins 20 secs with Catherine 2 secs adrift. They were quickly followed across the line by their Club mate Elaine Horgan, who ran very well over the closing stages to finish 4th in 12 mins 45 secs and this trio won the Club title for Clonmel.
Laura Burke of Coolquill was 5th in 13 mins 23 secs with Claire Devitt of Dundrum 6th in 13 mins 30 secs. In the team event the Gold medals were won by Clonmel. The Silver medals were won by the Thurles Crokes team of Maria, Emma Carey who ran very well when finishing 10th in 14 mins 13 secs and Eileen Carey 12th in 14 mins 23 secs. Then we had the loudest cheer of the day when it was announced that the Moore Abbey Milers ladies won the Bronze medals, thus winning the Club first Inter Club Championship team medals. The three athletes who achieved this historic achievement were Ann Cummins who was 7th in 13:38, Trisha Blackburn 11th in 14:31 and Patricia Ryan 18th in 15:15. Clonmel 2nd team were 4th on 37 points with Moyne 5th on 52 points and Clonmel C 6th on 56 points. In this race we had 26 athletes representing 6 clubs, a record entry.
The men’s race attracted a very good entry of 52 athletes representing 9 Clubs. Right from the start William Maunsell of Clonmel went to the front and soon upped the tempo to open a nice lead as they came past the winning post with two laps to go with David Shelly of Ballynonty and the Thurles Crokes duo of Denis Shanahan and William Hughes leading the chasing pack. William maintained this strong tempo all the way to come home a very convincing winner in 20 mins 23 secs and becomes the 3rd Clonmel athlete to win this title under Athletic Ireland following in the footsteps of Tom Walsh (2000) and Mark Ryan (2001). He also follows in the footsteps of his father, Kevin, who won this title under BLE rules in Watson’s Estate, Ballingarrane Clonmel in 1986. With William winning the Gold medal, David Shelly also kept a good tempo going to win the Silver medal in 21 mins and William Hughes moved clear on the last lap to win the Bronze medal in 21 mins 13 secs with Denis Shanahan 4th in 21:27. Willie O’Dwyer of Dundrum was 5th in 21:35 and Stuart Moroney of Moore Abbey Milers 6th in 21:41, great to see 5 Clubs having athletes in the top 6 in a Championship race. In the team event Thurles Crokes won the Gold medals with William, Denis, Patrick Hughes who was 7th in 21:49 and Declan Doherty 8th in 21:58. The Silver medals were won by Dundrum with Willie 5th, Brian Hartnett 13th 22:23, Colm Bradshaw 14th 22:39 and Ruaidhri Devitt 16th in 22:44. The Bronze medals were won by the Coolquill team of Dermot Logue 9th 22:05, John Russell 10th 22:08, Andrew Smyth 17th 22:50 and Joe Keaney 23rd 23:39. Clonmel were 4th on 62 points, Ballynonty 5th on 88 points, Dundrum B 6th on 96 points, Clonmel B 7th on 139 points, Thurles Crokes B 8th on 145 points, and Coolquill B 9th on 154 points and Moyne 10th on 159 points.