Avondale House & Forest Park hosted the Leinster Senior & Juvenile Uneven Ages Cross Country Championships last Sunday 7th November. The rolling hills and tough finishing stretch has earned the venue as one of Irelands most challenging cross-country circuits.
In contrast to the wet and windy conditions in Ballyhale, Kilkenny for the previous Leinster athletics championship day, it was a mild and sunny day at Avondale Forest. This made it all the more enjoyable for the large number of athletes and spectators (2,000) that arrived on the day.
The first races of the day were the girls U-10 and boys U-10. Despite both races being non-championship open races, there was still plenty of competition over the 900 metre course.
The under 11 girls was the first championship race of the day. Despite provincial athletic races being an open entry competition, the All-Ireland championship is based on qualification. Only the top 12 athletes across the line and top 3 club and county teams’ can enter the All Ireland Event which this year will take place in Gowran, Co Kilkenny on the 5th of December.
Jessica O'Connor from Roundwood and District AC guaranteed her place by finishing in 5th position. Seren Stamper Walshe of Greystones AC also did by finishing a strong 10th in the U13 girls. In the U-13 boys, Ethan Bramhill of Greystones AC finished in 3rd followed by Liam Cawley from Inbhear Dee in 12thposition, both qualifying for Gowran on the 5th.
The Boys U-15 age group has been very strong in the county this year. The talent and hard work were reflected on the day with Noah Harris of Ashford AC running the race of his life to finish first and take the gold medal. He was closely followed by James Foot of Bray Runners AC in 6th position and Malachy Kenny of Kilcoole AC in 12th. All three boys earning a spot on the Leinster Team at the All Ireland’s. Just behind them, Aaron Fitzsimons 15th, Owen Savage 27th and Bobby More 34th had fantastic races and when the points were tallied up the boys took gold for the team county competition.
The U17 girls responded to the boys’ performances by adding an additional county gold for Wicklow. Anna Watson of Bray Runners AC flew the flag home as she finished in silver position. Not far behind, Ava Martin of Inbhear Dee finished 8th. Closely followed by Isobel Lynch of Kilcoole Ac in 12th postition. The team also consisted of strong performances by Isobel O’Sullivan 16th, Aoibheann Keating 26th and Niamh Murray 33rd.
Jonas Stafford stormed home to take a well-deserved win in the U-17 boys. Jonas was followed by Finn Harris in 10th Position. The Boys U17 group was packed very well with Colm O’Neill 22nd, Oscar Durston 23rd,Rian ANAFI-Fitzgibbon28th and Conor Keogh 34th. Their strong running earned them silver medals in the county competition and progressed them through to the All-Ireland’s.
The Girls U-19 was led home by Laura Ivers of Parnell AC in 13th position narrowly missing out one of the top 12 spots. The Boys U-19 saw Greystones AC Athlete Alex Van Buttingha Wichers run a fantastic race to finish in 4th position in a very competitive field.
In the penultimate event of the day, Una Britton of Kilcoole AC continued her excellent form finishing in 2nd position in the gruelling 5000m Senior women’s race. She was followed home by Lynne Duffy in 21st, Antonia Vitori in 45th and Donna Quinn in 48th, Aisling Smith 50th and Claire O’Callaghan 51st . The ladies were just outside of the team medals.
The final event was the Seniors Men’s 10,000m. Tim Grummell 20th was the first Wicklow athlete home followed by Derek Crammond 25th, Alan Duffy 28th and Donal Flannery 29th. Other strong performances from Robin Mooney, Patrick Kinsella, Tony Monaghan, Drew Donoghue, Clive Quinn, Anthony Breen, Paul Kelly helped form a strong team and they earned the bronze medal for the County and team competition.