2018 County Seniors Xcountry Kilmacow

The perfect November morning – grass nicely moisten by a nights rainfall, a winter sun gleaming down upon us and 15 degrees warming our wintered bodies.
A course laden with hills and wooded dales, leafy paths and dulating multi terrained fields. An ideal course for the ideal day.

7am Liam Kealy had just sounded the becon in the hills of Gowran – the flocks of athletes from all over the North East answered the call. A sea of red descended over them there hills.
Across the county, the senior athletes were stretching, yawning and waking their bodies as their clubs called them to duty. Brian Maher milked 200 cows. Sean Caulfield delivered 1000 loafs of bread. Mags Kirwan fished. Ken Maher signed the last school report. David Deneiffe ate his breakfast, polishing off the last sausage. Ed Williams polished the starting gun.

The turnout in the ladies races was nothing short of phenomenal. 62 athletes lined up to challenge for the county title. It has been a long time since we had such fields in our Senior ladies County Cross Country Championships. Bronagh Kearns was shaking with nerves. Lauren Dearmody just wanted to get going. Sally Forristal bit her lip. The gun sounded. Mags Kirwan jumped like a fish. They were away – all 62 of them.

Lauren Dearmody (Castlecomer) had a county title to defend. Sally Forristal (St Josephs) had just run a brilliant debut marathon in Berlin. She was not going to let Lauren go far. Both raced into the lead. Back 10m behind them Michelle McDonald (St Senans) , Adele Walsh (St Senans) and Coilte Malone (Thomastown) were running in unison, stride for stride. Two small laps then two big laps. Oh god, the hills. Down the woody glen, out by the river, the salmon wier full with water. Salmon jumping high – daffodils fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Up the sharp steep hill to the top field. Lauren pushed ahead. Meanwhile Adele Walsh had broken free, she was chasing Sally hard. The legs ached with pain but all the girls kept going. Athlete after athletes pushed up that hill to the top field, breathing hard, legs bursting with lactic acid. Down the hill for the last time, across by the river – the salmon still jumping high – the trout legged it – Mags approached. In the end it was Lauren Dearmody who won the race, with Sally Forristal just holding on for second, Adele Walsh just ran out of distance.
St Senans AC retained the club title that they won last year. Christmas had come early for Bill Lacey. In a post race interview he attributed their success to the indoctrination of “doing it for the shield”. A constant mantra echoed in their ears since they were 10. KCH finished 2nd with St Josephs 3rd.

The Senior Mens race was always going to be close this year. With Eoin Everad holidaying in Australia and Tom O’Keeffe now competing for UCD, their team was somewhat depleted from other years. This year 78 athletes lined up at the start – including St Kierans College vice principal Ken Maher. He needed a good run before school opened up again.
Brian Maher was anxious. He just wanted to get going. James Kelly fixed his socks. Niall Sheehan chatted to the Gowran team mates. Jonathan Crowley chatted to everybody. Michael O’Keeffe prayed he would not have to tog out. Quick Ed, fire that gun. The gun sounded. 78 athletes had started their race in the 2018 Kilkenny County Senior Cross Country championships. 2 small laps followed by 5 large ones. From the onset it was Brian Maher (KCH), Niall Sheehan (Gowran) and James Kelly (Castlecomer) who were out in front. These three guys had left the remainder of the athletes in their wake. Only Dean Rowe (Gowran) was between them and the rest of the field. By the end of the two small laps (1000m) they were about 30m clear of the rest of the field. Liam Kiely’s dog barked loudly. So did Liam.

Down the wooded glen, out by the river, Brian Maher was pulling away, breathing easy, looking smooth. He sailed up the steep hill – not a bother. Back behind him Niall Sheehan was looking good too. James Kelly had dropped back a bit, leaving Niall to chase down Brian Maher. “Go on Daddy” shouted Ethan. I don’t think Brian heard him. He was focused, keeping on track. 52 year old Sean Caulfield was in the chasing pack. Some man for this age – the flying green grocer.
On the hill Rocky Mernagh cheered the Josephs lads on – with his new bionic knee he was not allowed take part – too much of an advantage he said. Michael Power offered no excuse for his lack of participation.
Dean Rowe, Conor Bolger, Mossy Rowntree, Danny Shanahan all grouped together on the hill, vying for the best spot. The St Senans boys all 4 of them running in Sean Caulfields slip stream – they should be used to that hill by now. Apparently not!
Ken Maher spotted Trust Mtinsi – a fast marathon runner was always a good man to follow. So is an ex county hurler – Peter Barry was just behind them.
Lap 2, Lap 3, Lap 4 and Lap 5 – it was Brian Maher all the way -pushing himself with each stride. He was not going to have an easy race either way. Through the finishing tunnel. He had won. Niall Sheehan had closed the gap a bit – but not enough to catch the flying masters international from Conahy. James Kelly came 3rd. One by one the athletes finished, tired, exhausted – drained, Peter Barry fell to the ground – totally exhausted. He must have a word with Brian Cody about getting the lads to do Cross Country. Cody would love this for training.
KCH won the team event – Ken Maher made the team, he beat Trust Mtinsi on the last hill. And swore every young fella in Kierans would be out doing Cross Country this year. Gowran were 2nd and St Senans 3rd. Sean Caulfield said never again – we have to start recruiting younger lads. The younger lads fled in fear. Peter Barry said we should get the hurlers on board. Liam Kiely grinned.
All 78 athletes finished the course. Well done to all.

And so concludes another successful county championships. Thanks to everyone who attended. The ladies cup will stay in Kilmacow and the mens will travel to Kilkenny.

Results (first 32 athletes only)

1 Lauren Dermody CC 2 Sally Forristal SJ 3 Adele Walsh SS 4 Michelle McDonald SS 5 Caoilte Malone TT 6 Bronagh Kearns SS 7 Aine Kinsella SS
8 Caoimhe Foley KCH 9 Caitriona Corr G 10 Donna Dunne KCH 11 Cathy Millett KCH 12 Maria Griffin SJ 13 Catie Muldowney KCH 14 Helen Hoynes SJ 15 Mary Steed KR 16 Maria Cormack KCH 17 Kathryn Kennedy G 18 Caroline Murphy SJ 19 Marguerite Hoynes SJ 20 Niamh O’Shea TT
21 Joan Martin KCH 22 Rachel Butler SS 23 Frances Mullaly SJ 24 Kate Millea KCH 25 Claire McDonald G 26 Mags Kirwan KR 27 Siobhan O’Dwyer G 28 Joya Burns KCH 29 Maggie Helen O’Connor SJ 30 Ailis O’Shea TT 31 Aoife Cleary TT 32 Tracey Malone SJ

Teams: 1 St Senans 2 KCH 3 St Josephs

1 Brian Maher KCH 2 Niall Sheehan G 3 James Kelly CC 4 Dean Rowe G 5 Conor Bolger KCH 6 Mossy Rowntree KCH 7 Danny Shanahan TT
8 Conor Rochford SS 9 Sean Caulfield SS 10 Shane Noonan G 11 Cormac Buggy G 12 Ken Maher KCH 13 Trust Mtinsi KCH 14 Peter Barry SJ
15 Philip Fennelly KR 16 Jonathan Crowley SS 17 Joey Duggan SJ 18 Graham Bourne KCH 19 Oliver Mullally SS 20 Pat Purcell KCH
21 Stephen O’Connor SJ 22 John Barron KR 23 Edward O’Keeffe KCH 24 Brian McMahon KR 25 Vivian Fennelly KR 26 Gerry Walsh TT 27 Ciaran Hayden KCH 28 Pat Bookle SJ 29 John Davis TT 30 Bill Carroll TT 31 Oisin Mac Cinneide KCH 32 David Lawlor KCH

Teams: 1 kCH 2 Gowran 3 St Senans

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