The hill went on forever, or so they all told us. Athletes faces grimaced as they dug deep to trudge their bodies up the extended hill that dominated the Waterford venue for the All Ireland uneven age and novice championships last Sunday. It was an exciting day as Kilkenny athletes swooped prizes in several of the races. With mild conditions, soft underfoot and a virtual mountain to contend with, the girls u/11 started the day rolling with two individual honours. St Senan’s pair, Eve Dunphy and Charlotte Carpendale finished 5th and 7th respectively, collecting individual medals. Both were on the Leinster team that finished 1st province. Further medals were amassed when the county finished 3rd. Eve and Charlotte along with fellow St Senans athlete Aine O’Callaghan, the Gowran pair of Hazel Coogan and Alexander Brennan and KCH’s Roisin Burns made up the scoring 6.

In a race that was dominated by Mullingar Harriers the boys u/11 saw the Westmeath club with 4 athletes in the top 12. Luke O’Leary, the son of Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary getting 7th. The first of the Kilkenny team home was Joss O’Connor of St Josephs in 26th place. Unfortunately there were no medals for Kilkenny – the team finishing in 7th position.

The girls u/13 saw Kilkenny finish 3rd in a race where drama unfolded at every twist and turn. On the last lap, with the backdrop of the river Suir, in the valley below, and the hill all but turning into a mountain, Sophie Quinn of Rathoath, Co. Meath led the race some 10m from Aoife Brown of Metro St Bridgets. These two athletes were about 25m clear of the rest of the field. Aoife was gaining on Sophie when the hill got too much for her and she retired to the side, calling it a day. The crowd of spectators however were having none of this, as the main group approached they ushered Aoife back into the race. In a strange twist of fate, Sophie Quinn overcome by sheer effort collapsed three times as she approached the finish, with 50m to go, she could not get up. Thus the Dublin athlete Aoife Brown ended up being All Ireland Champion. Taking inspiration from the fatigued athletes, the petite figure of Sara Kehoe of Gowran, glided over the muck to gain with each step as she climbed the to the top of the hill. She finished 11th overall. Leinster finished 3rd with both Sara and Maria O’Keeffe (TT) scoring on the team.

In what was becoming a repeat pattern in the boys, Kilkenny again did not feature in the medals, despite good races from both Billy Coogan of Gowran and David Williams of St Senans. Billy Coogan scored on the Leinster team that won the gold.

Once again Hannah Kehoe of Gowran ran a race that only Hannah Kehoe of Gowran could possibly do. Soft ground, hills or mountains just do not seem to make a difference to this incredible athlete. With Aimee Hayde of Newport out of reach, Hannah set to put the distance between herself and the rest of the field. Repeating her success of her All Ireland 3 weeks ago, she once again scooped silver in the girls u/15. She was backed up by two more Kilkenny girls who gained individual honours, Hannah O’Keeffe of Thomastown finished 7th and club mate Aine Kirwan coming back into form from an injury that side-lined her early on in the season to take 11th. With three in the top 12, and Fiona Dillon in 19th position, Kilkenny never really looked in danger of being beaten. The gold was theirs for keeps. Thomastown took the gold in the club event – one of two club teams won by Kilkenny on the day.

Will Fox of Castlecomer the pre-race favourite upset the odds when he collapsed on the 2nd lap, the tough course was witness to many such incidents throughout the day. This left the county team without their best athlete. Kilkenny finished 11th lead home by Tadgh Connolly of St Senans in 39th position. Will is bound to be disappointed with today, but no doubt he will bounce back and we will see more of him in 2018.

Annie McEvoy ran a fantastic race in the girls u/17, moving through the field from 13th on the first lap to finish 6th overall. She also scored on the Leinster team that finished 2nd. Unfortunately Kilkenny who normally feature in this race, had to be content with 6th on this occasion. St Senans were also 6th club with Thomastown in 9th spot.

Not to be outdone by his twin sister Annie, Shay McEvoy came to Waterford with the intention of bringing finishing in the top 3. Always with the leaders, going from lap to lap, hill to hill, he finished 3rd. KCH topped the club section, bringing home the gold, a meagre 1 point ahead of 2nd placed St Malachy’s of Belfast. Consisting mainly of KCH athletes, Kilkenny finished 4th in the county section. Shay and club mate Kevin Burns scored on the Leinster team that was 3rd.

With no county team, Ella Richardson of KCH led her KCH club team home in 20th place. She also scored on the Leinster team that got gold. The club were 4th. A similar story prevailed in the boys u/19, where Kilkenny not only had no team but KCH were left stranded with no team at the last moment. There was some compensation however, when Adam Fitzpatrick finished 8th and also scored on the Leinster team that was 1st.

Novice glory for the Ladies

It has been some time since Kilkenny were able to field a ladies novice team at National level. For the last few years Sally Forristal (St Josephs) was left to carry the mantle – often alone. This year some 13 ladies from Kilkenny lined up to race. To boost Kilkenny supplied three club teams: KCH, St Senans and Castlecomer. Lauren Dearmody was consistently in the top 3 throughout the race, finishing third across the finishing line. Almost like an award for re-emerging on the scene the county collected silver medals. What a nice way to round off an incredible day of Athletics.


Girls u/11: 5 Eve Dunphy (SS) 7 Charlotte Carpendale (SS) 38 Hazel Coogan (G) 55 Alexandra Brennan (G) 62 Aine O’Callaghan (SS) 75 Roisin Burns (KCH) 97 Eabha Mullally (SJ) 113 Orla Brennan (G) 118 Eimear Brennan (G) 152 Hannah Quinn (KCH) County 3rd Club: St Senans 5th

Boys u/11: 26 Joss O’Connor (SJ) 43 Anil Ramasawmy (SS) 49 Ruairi Murphy (G) 57 Tom Kehoe (G) 64 Issac Carew (SS) 73 Louis Raggett (KCH) 122 James Bergin (KCH) 130 Michael O’Shea (SS) County 7th

Girls u/13: 11 Sara Kehoe (G) 22 Maria O’Keeffe (TT) 37 Molly O’Doran (CC) 39 Grace Glennon (SJ) 40 Meave Bookle (SJ) 46 Orlaith Kirwan (TT) 55 Rachael O’Neill (G) 84 Caoimhe Phelan (SS) 91 Sophie Williams (SS) 123 Molly Long (SS). County 3rd Club: St Senans 15th

Boys u/13: 20 Billy Coogan (G) 31 David Williams (SS) 69 Ben Wallis (SS) 100 Oisin Marry (KCH) 101 Naoise Gilmartin (SS) 119 Ruairi McEvoy (KCH) 121 Darragh Covendale (TT) 137 Conor Byrne (KCH) 142 Gearoid Long (SS) 143 Alex Cass (TT). County 10th.

Girls u/15: 2 Hannah Kehoe 7 Hannah O’Keeffe (TT) 11 Aine Kirwan (TT) 19 Fiona Dillon (TT) 28 Danielle Grifin (SJ) 72 Emma Minogue (TT) 83 Saoirse Allen (SS) 89 Clodagh Monahan (SS) County 1st. Club Thomastown 1st.

Boys u/15: 39 Tadgh Connolly (SS) 57 Cathal O’Rielly (CC)  69 Brogan McAvinney (G) 106 Liam Lacey (SS)  110 Robert Finn (SS) 111 Billy Power (TT) 117 Cillian Dunne (G) 126 Jamie O’Connor (SJ) County: 11th

Girls u/17: 6 Annie McEvoy (KCH) 21 Tara Ramasawmy (SS) 41 Sophie Jackman (SS) 60 Ciara O’Keeffe (TT) 66 Ellen Ryan (TT) 82 Sinead O’Keeffe (TT) 84 Aine Phelan (SS) 95 Orla O’Keeffe (TT) 96 Aoife Allen (SS) 104 Nell Murphy (SS) County 6th Club: St Senans 6th Thomastown 9th

Boys u/17: 3 Shay McEvoy (KCH) 22 Kevin Burns (KCH) 33 James Kearney (KCH) 50 Cathal Kearney (KCH) 71 John Muldowney (KCH) 77 Luke Whelan (KCH) County 4th Club KCH 1st.

Girls u/19: 20 Ella Richardson (KCH) 32 Annie O’Connor (KCH) 48 Ciara Murphy (KCH). Club; KCH 4th

Boys u/19: 8 Adam Fitzpatrick (KCH)

Novice Ladies: 3 Lauren Dearmody (Castlecomer) 13 Sally Forristal (SJ)20 Caoilte Malone (KCH) 33 Aine Kinsella (SS). County 2nd, Club: 5 KCH, 8 St Senans 9 Castlecomer.

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