One of the final Cross Country events of the season with Irish involvement took place last weekend in Wales, with annual SIAB Schools Cross Country Championships taking place at Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire.
The SIAB’s sees the top schools’ athletes from Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales battle it out for glory.
Ireland has a rich history in this competition, which allows many future stars to get their first outing in an Irish vest. World Indoor 60m Hurdles finalist Sarah Lavin competed in the SIAB’s Track and Field in 2008 and 2009 which gave her a taste of representing Ireland in an International event. Fionnuala McCormack and Andrew Coscoran are amongst the current Irish international athletes who ran in the Cross-Country Championships in the past.
Ireland sent a team of forty athletes to the Championships this year to compete in the Junior, Intermediate and Mixed Relay competitions.
Two sets of siblings were named on the Irish team with sisters Lucy and Jodi Foster of Down High School and Clare based brothers Simon and Peter Farrell of St. Flannan’s College in Ennis.
Isa Marie McCarron of Our Lady’s and St. Patrick’s College, Knock in Belfast was the first Irish athlete across the line in the Junior Girls 3000m. McCarron who last month won the Ulster Schools Cross Country Championships finished in 11th position running 11.38.
She was closely followed by Eimear Cooney of Sacred Heart, Drogheda, in 13th. Emily Bolton finished 14th, Niamh Garvey was 16th, Dearbhla Allen 18th, Cora Scullion finished 26th, Isabel Cuffe 29th and Jodi Foster 32nd.
The girls secured a team bronze medal. England won gold in extremely comfortable fashion, with the top six athletes all wearing the white vest.
All-Ireland Schools Cross Country Champion Sean Corry of St. Michael’s College Enniskillen was the top Irish performer in the Junior Boys 3000m. Corry crossed the line in 6th position with five English athletes ahead of him. Declan O’Connell of Clarin College in Athenry finished just behind Corry in 9th.
Meanwhile Eamon Coyle was 11th, Rhys Johnson 13th, Leo Murray finished 15th, Simon Farrell was 17th, Jamie Wallace 20th and Tiarnan MacManus 24th. The strong Irish performance resulted in a silver team medal returning home.
The Irish team took a well-earned silver medal in the Junior 4x1500m Mixed Relay. The team of Liam Morris (Colaiste Chilliain, Dublin), Katie Ella McKittrick (Sullivan Upper School, Belfast), Seamus O’Donoghue (Pobailscoil Inbhear, Sceine, Kenmare) and Eavann Duffy (Loreto Clonmel) finished behind a strong English team who claimed yet another gold.
The Intermediate Girls race stepped up in distance to 4000m. The race was once again dominated by the strong English contingent who made up the top six. Clodagh Gill of St. Marys Ballina was the first Irish athlete to finish, crossing the line in 8th. Gill was closely followed by Lucy Foster of Down High School in 11th.
Caitlin Hughes finished 20th, Nicole Dinan 21st, Eimear Hughes was 22nd, Hannah Wade crossed the line in 26th, Hazel Hughes 28th and Holly O’Brien 29th, ensuring that the Irish team won yet another team medal, this time a bronze.
Cormac Dixon produced Ireland’s finest performance of the day from an individual perspective. The Holy Family C.S, Rathcoole athlete finished a strong 2nd in the Intermediate Boys race sandwiched between Robert Price and Brandon Pye. Billy Coogan of Kilkenny CBS also made the top ten, finishing in 9th position.
The Irish team won silver with Darragh Mulrooney in 11th, Lughaidh Mallon 12th, Oliver Hopkins 14th, Francis Donoghue finished 21st, Peter Farrell was 23rd and Gerard Dunne 26th.
The Intermediate Mixed relay team of Oscar Legge (St Andrew's College, Dublin), Caoimhe Kilmurray (Loreto Mullingar), Caolan McFadden (Loreto C.S. Milford) and Poppy Hastings (Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt) rounded off the day’s action by winning Ireland’s second relay medal of the day. They finished behind England.