National Juvenile (Even) All Irelands/Seniors Abbottstown

In my mind I picture Abbottstown as a leafy, autumnal coloured, well groomed cross country course, with minor undulation of hills – nothing as tough as my own Cross Country days (anyone remember Ballyhaise in Cavan!!!!). However I must have been somewhat delusional in my memories of the course from last year. The intense rain of recent weeks and Hurricane Ophelia must have stripped every bit of autumnal colour, created hills where hills never existed and dropped mud bombs on what I imagined was groomed underfoot conditions. Tail backs of traffic caused the schedule to be moved a half an hour – thankfully the temperatures remained at about 6 degrees – not as bad as we expected.

It seems that the current crop of athletes are just as tough as we are – they walk the course, assess where they should run in muddy patches and then just get on with the business of running and doing their best. From the county perspective we probably did not feature in the medals as much as other years with the Boys u/14 and under 18 being our only county teams to medal. St Senans had two club teams that won bronze – Boys u/14 and Girls u/12, with Thomastown securing the 3rd in the girls u/16. KCH got silver in the boys u/18. There were however some very fine individual performances, particularly from young Hannah Kehoe of Gowran, who spearheaded the race from its inception. Gliding over mud as if she floated, pushing her limits up the short hills and just so totally focused, she lead the race for all but 600m. For the last 600m she was shoulder to shoulder with Sadhbh Mohan of Metro/St Bridgets – never letting the Dublin athlete get away on the surges of speed that she made. In the end there was just the narrowest of margins between the two athletes, with Hannah finishing 2nd. In the same race Elenore Goddin of KCH finished a fantastic 11th.

Sara Kehoe, sister to Hannah had just half an hour earlier secured 12th place in the Girls u/12 – a fantastic result considering she was only 8th in this race at Leinster level.

Tadgh Connolly (St Senans) who up to this season was known more for his aptitude for the shot, discus and hammer – literally ploughed through the field to take 7th in the boys u/14. The former national medal winner at shot putt, put new meaning on strength and conditioning training by going back to basics and putting a serious effort into Cross Country. With plenty of familiar faces in the starting line up – his own club mates and the United Striders boys, there was always someone to race with or push yourself on to keep up with. Tough as nails and totally focus, groves of mud and the pedigree of the usual individual winners were no psychological hurdle for him. What mattered most was the confidence he had gained from working with his own club St Senans AC and the athletes he trained with. St Senans got 3rd club, with David Williams coming back to form in 29th place, Naoise Gilmartin in 63rd and Ethan Butler in 82nd. It should be pointed out that Ethan deserves alot of credit for running with knee issues – which is recovering. Rest is important for recovery. The Kilkenny County Team were 3rd: Tadgh Connolly (St Senans) 7th, David Williams (St Senans) 29th, Tom Lodge (KCH) 31st, Billy Coogan (Gowran) 33rd, Naoise Gilmartin (St Senans) 63rd and Ethan Butler (St Senans) 82nd. There were some athletes who were due to run missing, which would surely have changed the colour of the medal to Silver. One for next year.

The girls u/16 saw Hannah O’Keeffe of Thomastown run her best ever race. She finished in 7th place and is thus assured of a place in the Celtic International in Antrim on Jan 6th. To make this all the more remarkable, Hannah is actually an u/15 athlete and will run in her own age group All Irelands in 3 weeks time. I watched Hannah trudge through the mire of mud at the back wall of the course and each stride she took just took inched her towards her nearest competitor. She looked neither out of breath nor out of her depth. The Thomastown girls secured the bronze medal – with a great race by Aine Kirwan to finish in 20th. Aine as many of the readers will know, is just coming back from an injury which saw her miss all the earlier season competition. Other scorers were Ciara O’Keeffe in 35th, Orla O’Keeffe 88th and Ellen Ryan 95th.

The boys u/18 was always going to be KCH’s niche event with Adam Fitzpatrick and Shay McEvoy leading the brigade. This was a hard race to judge positioning as both the under 18 and Junior races were run together. Adam finished 8th in the under 18 race and 20th overall in the junior race. Shay finished 10th in the u/18 race and 23rd overall. Both boys will have to await the final segregation of results to determine if they make the Celtic International in Antrim or not. The county got silver medals with Adam, Shay, James Kearney (KCH) 71st overall,  Kevin Burns (KCH) 110th overall, Conor Clarke (Castlecomer) 140th overall and Conor Murphy (KCH) 141 overall.

Our under 23s were particularly successful with Lauren Dearmody of Castlecomer finishing 2nd in the Ladies and Tom O’Keeffe of KCH the winner of the mens. The winner in these events secured automatic selection for the European U/23s in Slovakia. So Tom has secured his place while Lauren must tensely await her outcome.

The Senior section of the county were prehaps more successful today than we usually are. Kilkenny secured a fine win in the Mens C county section, finishing a very creditable 2nd place overall and the ladies team (our first in decades) won the B section. Hopefully this will encourage more and more athletes to use the cross country season as a serious training path for their summer season. We are perfectly positioned within the county to be adept at Cross Country at this level – more grouped training sessions to avoid the isolation of jumping from juvenile to senior and more education of the value of Cross Country as a good strength and conditioning base will help. Not to mention our plethora of good agricultural land that is available to use here in Kilkenny.

The mens team consisted of Eoin Everard (KCH) 8, Tom O’Keeffe (KCH) 12, Brian Maher (KCH) 14, Thos Hayes (KCH) 35, Niall Sheehan (Gowran) 40 and James Leddington (KCH) 59 . KCH secured 1st club in the B section and again finishing 2nd overall. Very good running by everyone.

The ladies were led home by Lauren Dearmody (Castlecomer) in 25th, Adele Walsh (St Senans) 32, Sile Carroll (Liffey Valley) 46 and Michelle McDonald (St Senans) 59th. Plenty more to come from this bunch of athletes.


Girls u/12: 12 Sara Kehoe (G), Orlaith Kirwan (TT) 43 Grace Glennon (SJ) Caoimhe Phelan (SS) 52 Meave Bookle (SJ) 53 Eve Dunphy (SS) 54 Molly Long (SS) 68 Alexander Brennan (G) 71 Rachel O’Neill Gowran 85 Hazel Coogan (G) 88 Aine O’Callaghan (SS) 154 Juliet Evans (SS). County 4th. Clubs: St Senans 3rd, Gowran 8th.

Boys u/12: 80 Ben Wallis (SS) 86 Issac Carew (SS) 116 Eoin Aylward (SS) 131 Shane Morrissey (SS) 165 Harry Morrisey (SS). St Senans 15th club.

Girls u/14. 2 Hannah Kehoe (G) 11 Elenore Goddin (KCH) 29 Fiona Dillon (TT) 61 Maria O’Keeffe (TT), 62 Danielle Griffin (SJ) 113 Saoirse Allen (SS) 119 Sophie Williams (SS) 136 Aine Purcell (SJ) 153 Libby Murphy (SS). County 5th.

Boys u/14. 7 Tadgh Connolly (SS) 29 David Williams (SS) 31 Tom Lodge (KCH) 33 Billy Coogan (G) 63 Naoise Gilmartin (SS) 82 Ethan Butler (SS) 112 Billy Power (TT) 140 Gearoid Long (SS) . County 3rd. St Senans 3rd Club. Tadgh Connolly on the Leinster team that was 2nd.

Girls u/16. 7 Hannah O’Keeffe (TT) 20 Aine Kirwan (TT) 22 Tara Ramasawmy (SS) 35 Ciara O’Keeffe (TT) 88 Orla O’Keeffe (TT) 92 Sophie Jackman (SS) 95 Ellen Ryan (TT). County 5th. Thomastown 3rd club and Hannah O’Keeffe on the Leinster team that was 1st.

Boys u/16. 62 Cathan Kearney (KCH) 87 Brogan McAvinney (G), 92 John Muldowney (KCH). Kilkenny failed to field a team despite having 10 selected.

Girls u/18: NOTE: Results not available individually

Boys u/18: 8 Adam Fitzpatrick 10 Shay McEvoy. County 2nd. KCH 2nd. Results will be updated when individual u/18 results become available.

Junior Ladies: 33 Annie McEvoy (KCH) 39 Ella Richardson (KCH), 79 Aoife Allen (SS), 78 Sinead O’Keeffe 92 Annie O’Connor (KCH) 103 Issy Shine (KCH) 123 Ciara Murphy (KCH) 135 Nell Murphy (SS) . County 5th. KCH

Junior Men: 20 Adam Fitzpatrick 23 Shay McEvoy 71 James Kearney 110 Kevin Burns (all KCH) 140 Conor Clarke (CC) 141 Colm Murphy.

Under 23 Ladies. 2 Lauren Dearmody (CC)

Under 23 Mens 1 Tom O’Keeffe (KCH)

Senior Ladies 25 Lauren Dearmody (CC) 32 Adele Walsh (SS) 46 Sile Carroll (LV) 59 Michelle McDonald (SS) 61 Aine Kinsella (SS)

Senior Men 8 Eoin Everard (KCH) 12 Tom O’Keeffe (KCH) 14 Brian Maher (KCH) 35 Thos Hayes (KCH) 40 Niall Sheehan (G) 59 Tom Leddington (KCH) 94 David McPhearson (TT) . County 1st Grade C 2nd overall. Clubs KCH 1st B and 2nd overall. Gowran 2nd Grade B: Full senior placings later.



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