The Aviva Irish Schools’ Cross Country Championships takes place in Cork CIT this Saturday, 8th of March.
This annual fixture is the culmination of six weeks of competition for the country’s best young schools’ athletes. Close to a 1,000 of these schools athletes have progressed from their regional qualifiers, and through their provincial championships to reach the prestigious Aviva All Ireland Schools Championships. As always there will be a fierce battle for the team prizes with nearly a 100 schools vying for the prestigious team awards.
Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Colaiste Iosagain) and Aaron Hanlon (St Mary’s Drogheda) will start as favourites’ in their respective senior races after emphatic victories at the Aviva Leinster Schools Cross Country Championships in Santry, Demesne last month.
Cleirigh Buttner will target an historic sixth straight schools title in what has been an outstanding schools cross country career. If anyone is to challenge the Colaiste Iosagain student, it is likely to be Munster champion Niamh Cotter. Cotter of Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai coasted to victory at the Aviva Munster schools championships on Thursday, February 13th.
Hanlon will start as the marginal favourite in the senior boy’s race after his powerful display at the Leinster championships. Over the previous 12 months Hanlon has represented Ireland at junior level in the European Cross Country Championships and he will be in confident mood he can deliver another top drawer performance in Cork. Munster champion Kyle Larkin (Ard Scoil Ris, Limerick) is another coming into top form and along with Connacht schools champion James Fallon (Calasanctius College) ensuing that Hanlon won’t have it all his own way.
At Inter level Ulster Schools Champion Clodagh O’Reilly (Loreto College Cavan)comes into the race as the defending inter girls champion. O’Reilly can expect tough competition from the likes of Caoimhe Harvey (St. Joseph’s Kilkee), Rhona Pierce (Skerries CC) and Grace Cahill (Pres Athenry) who all won their respective regional titles.
The Inter boy’s race could prove to be one of the most exciting contests of the day as Munster duo Kevin Mulcaire (St Flannans Ennis) and Ferghal Curtin (Midleton CBS) are set for another duel. Mulcaire came out on top on that occasion and along with Shane Hughes (Col. Mhuire Mullingar) and James Edgar (Friends School Lisburn) will lead the charge for the title.
Aaron McGlynn (Garm Scoil Chu Uladh) scored an impressive victory at junior level at the Ulster Schools Championships. McGlynn will need to reproduce this form if he is to get the better of Leinster champion Paddy Maher (Dunshaughlin CC).Laura Nicholson (Bandon Grammar School), Emma Hutchinson (Ballyclare High School), Jodie McCann (Rathdown) and Alice Hynes (St Attracta’s CS Tubbercurry) won their respective regional titles and will battle it out for all-Ireland glory in the junior girl’s race.
The youngest athletes competing in Cork will be the minor boy’s and girl’s race with the girl’s race beginning the days programme at 12 noon.