The Woodie’s DIY Inter County Cross Country Championships of Ireland will take place in Silgo Race course on Sunday the 27th of November.
These championships will form a critical part of the selection process for the SPAR European Cross Country Championships, with the first 2 across the line automatically selected for the team in the senior and junior race. In the case of the U23 event the top two U23 athletes in the senior event will be selected.
In the Senior Men’s event, reigning Inter County and Inter Club Cross Country Champion Joe Sweeney of Dundrum South Dublin will be the favourite. Sweeney has displayed form this season by winning the Gerry Farnan Cross Country last month. He also ran a very impressive leg in the University Road Relay’s in Maynooth, helping to secure an unexpected win for UCD over DCU who have won the event for the last six years.
Dan Mulhare (North Laois AC) who finished third in last year championships and finished second to Sweeney in the Gerry Farnan Cross Country will also be looking to be in the mix.
Another serious contender will be Andrew Ledwith from Fr. Murphy A.C in Meath. A former athletics scholarship student at Iona College, USA, Ledwith made his marathon debut in Dublin on the October bank holiday weekend finishing in 2.30.01. Last weekend in Belfast he won the Podium 4 Sport Seeley Cup 10K in 30:48.
David Rooney (Raheny AC) will return from the USA to compete in the championships. Rooney is redshirting this cross country season with McNeese College and has shown good form this month to win the Asics McNeese Cowboy Stampede over 4 miles in a time of 18:28, which is a new course record. He was also part of the winning Irish U-23 team at last year’s European Cross Country Championships.
Hi team mate on that memorable day, John Coghlan of the Metro St Brigid’s club will also be looking to impress after winning the senior men’s race at the Dublin Cross-Country Championships in Santry from Sean Hehir of Rathfarnham WSAF.
The Senior Women’s race will be wide open as Fionnuala Britton (Kilcoole AC) will not be lining up as she will race on the same day in Cross de l’Acier, Leffrinchoucke in the North of France in order to fine tune her preparations for the European Cross Country Championships. Mary Cullen and Deirdre Byrne will also not compete; both are back training following injuries but they have not yet achieved race fitness.
The honours are most likely to fall with Lizzie Lee (Leevale AC) who finished second in last year championships and is the 5000m national champion or Kerry Harty who finished a credible 22nd in the same race competitive VIII Cross de Atapuerca in Burgos, Spain this month. Harty is also the 3000m national steeplechase champion. Also in contention will be Aoife Culhane (nee Byrne), Claire Gibbons McCarthy and Eilish Kelly (Raheny AC).
In the Men’s U23 race Michael Mulhare (North Laois AC) will be one of the strongest contenders. Mulhare was part of the European U23 championships gold medallist winning team, the third scoring member of the team placing 16th overall. He also competed well in the recent race in Spain finishing the best of the Irish in 34th place in the Senior men’s race.
Other contenders will be David Flynn (Clonliffe Harriers AC) and Emmet Jennings (DSD AC) who was second in last year’s Junior race.
In the U23 Women’s race, Laura Behan (KCK AC), Laura Shaughnessy (Loughrea AC) and Una Britton (Kilcoole AC) sister to Fionnuala are likely to battle it out. Moynalvy AC’s Sara Treacy who was a finalist in the U23 European Championships over 1500m will be also be in the mix.
In the Junior Men’s race a real battle can be expected between Kevin Dooney (Raheny AC) and Liam Brady (Tullamore AC) who finished only one second apart at the Inter Club cross country championships early in 2011 to take silver and bronze respectively. Shane Quinn (Ferrybank AC) last year’s winner will not be racing as he competed in the NCAA’s finals on Monday for Providence College, however he was unable to finish. Other contender will be Stephen Kerr (Armagh AC), Sean Tobin (Clonmel AC), Eoin Totten (Newcastle AC). Liam Brady (Tullamore) was the best of the four Irish top ten finishers in the Junior men’s race when finishing an encouraging 2nd.
In the Junior women’s race, Siofra Cleirigh-Buttner (DSD AC) will be favourite. The Inter Club Cross country Champion and European Youth Olympic Festival 1500m silver medallist will have to content with World Youth Walk champion, Kate Veale (West Waterford). Veale finished a very encouraging 3rd at the McCain UK Cross Challenge in Bristol in the Junior women’s race. She was strongly backed up in that race by Mary Mulhare (North Laois) and Emma Mitchell (Banbridge) in 6th and 10th respectively. Both of these athletes will be looking for top finishing spots.
Last year’s winner Ciara Mageean (City of Lisburn AC) will not be competing as she is recovering from a slight foot niggle.
Ireland’s finest underage athletes will also battle it out on the day for National titles in the Juvenile even ages from U12 to U18.
Junior Men 6000m 13:25
Senior Women 8000m 13:50
Junior Women 4000m 14:30
Senior Men 10000m 14:50
Should be a fascinating day’s sport which will ensure that Ireland has its strongest possible team at the Europeans.