2018 Leinster Evens XCountry – Novice Navan

Navan is the perfect palindrome, but there was nothing palindromic about our athletes performances this weekend at the Leinster Even Age Juvenile championships in Navan. We are pushing the standards up and have emerged from the first day as join lead of the best overall county in Leinster. With so much emerging talent in the county at the moment this should come as no surprise.

Liam Kealy and his faithful dog roamed the course all day, (the dog he did mention got lunch, just in case the animal lover in you was worried). Someday I must ask him the name of that dog. I am sure “Liam’s dog” is hardly what was entered in the baptismal records. I digress.

The championships started with the gilrs u12. Charlotte Carpendale of St Senans got the county off to a great start when she progressed through the field to challenge the lead of Mia Teryell Crookstown. She was within a hares whisker of the gold at the end. For a young lady with two weeks training, that is not a bad day at the races at all. Hazel Coogan of Gowran was another individual medallist in this race, when she came home 5th. These girls led the county home in 2nd place. So we the girls have another day out in 4 weeks time in Abbotstown at the All Ireland’s.

The boys u12 were led home by St Senan’s Issac Carew in 6th place. Joss O’Connor of St Josephs was 11th with Sam Brennan of Gowran in 12th. All three of these will be on the Leinster team at the Nationals. The county were 3rd, so another 7 county Kilkenny athletes will join the three boys at Nationals. Gowran were 4th club.

The girls u14 was always going to be an interesting race. Almost a race within a race really, such is the close competition between 4 of our county athletes who are neck and neck in every race they have run since the start of the season. Maria O’Keeffe (Thomastown) led the team home in 9th place with St Senans Caoimhe Phelan just managing to overtake Orlaith Kirwan (Thomastown) for the 12th spot in the run in. With Orlaith in 13th, Sara Kehoe in 14th – the county team just had to get medals. And medal they did with a silver. Liam Kealys dog got so excited. Thomastown were 4th team and are off to the Nationals. Michael O’Keeffe ticked a box.

David Williams (St Senans) ran a great race in the boys u14 to take 4th spot, so close to 3rd too. Billy Coogan (Gowran) was in 7th. St Senans took 4th team, so 5 of Davids team mates will join him at the All Ireland’s at the end of November.
If all the athletes who ran int the counties had turned up for the race, the county would most certainly have got 2nd or 3rd place and so many more kids would have made an All Ireland spot. You see Athletics is a team sport and we ought to think like teams.

Kilkenny have always been blessed with a talented bunch of girls u16. Despite school tours to Barcelona, Rome, and Outer Mongolia and the lure of team sports, this formidable bunch of girls were true to their team mates and ran a great race. Despite the initial front running by Fiona Dillon (Thomastown), it was Hannah Kehoe of Gowran who eventually chased down the title. Hannah put up a great effort and finished 2nd. She was followed by Aine Kirwan (Thomastown) in 3rd and Hannah O’Keeffe (Thomastown) in 5th with Fiona Dillon in 7th. Kilkenny won the county title and Thomastown were 2nd club. Michael O’Keeffe ticked another box.

So, dear readers, we all know race preparation is paramount for any athletes perfect performance. For years coaches have been advocating an easy day the day before and your usual routine the morning of the race. Tadgh Connolly (St Senans) just re-wrote all coaches coaching manuals by his slightly unorthodox pre race ritual. The St Senans athlete stormed to victory in the boys u16 after milking 160 cows that morning. He later caught the 7am club bus, gear bag en toe. We won’t even begin to describe his previous day. Let me assure you, it throws all we know about athletics out the window!!! He inherits his genes from his 98 year old grandmother who is still an active farmer.
Tadgh’s race was an act of sheer brilliance. None of the athletes in the race thought he was the medal threat. But fresh as daisy he left the field in his wake after the first lap. Liam Kealy is still begging him for the secret. A queue has formed in the process.
St Senans were 4th club and the county were 4th. Again it is a shame that some of the athletes who ran in the counties let their team mates down for the medals.

The girls u18 were led home by Annie McEvoy (KCH) in 5th with Tara Ramsawmy (St Senans) in 6th, Sophie Kackman (St Senans) in 9th and Aoife Allen (St Senans) 12th. St Senans won the club team and Kilkenny won the county gold.

The Ladies junior race was run in conjunction with the senior race. Again the u18 girls led the county to gold and St Senans won the club team. It was nice to see Helen Hoynes of St Joesphs back running again. Helen was 2nd in the girls u11 9 years ago in Derry. Welcome back Helen.

Like the girls the u18 and junior men were run in conjunction with each other. KCH mad the race their own. James Kearny was 5th with KCH winning the team. Again the county would have surely won gold had athletes not failed to turn up.

Our leading Novice lady was Thomastowns Caoilte Malone in 7th place with St Senans Michelle McDonald in 8th. James Kelly (Castlecomer) was the first Kilkenny man home. It must have been a very tough race as there were bodies sprawled on the ground after the finish. Neither the ladies or mens teams feathered in the medals.

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