2018 Leinster unevens/senior Adamstown

A great crowd had gathered in a field in the middle of nowhere, to watch lots of people running around in atrocious weather- while this crowd themselves got absolutely saturated. Thunder and lightening resonated overhead, hailstones fell and still the crowd remained. You just have to ask yourselves the question – have they all gone completely mad? And the maddest thing of all is they pay to come into this field in the middle of nowhere to have the rain drench them, the lightening scare them and the hailstones batter them. Life is very amusing indeed.

The Leinster uneven age championships got underway today in brilliant sunshine. Crowds all arrived in with light jackets, sun glasses and runners. They all left 6 hours later with light jackets, sun glasses and runners – completely soaking and muddy beyond recognition. Liam Kieely’s dog had the sense not to venture out. Liam Keely had no sense so he ventured out.

Girls u19
Annie McEvoy (KCH) was superb. But then the sun was shining at this point – so everything seemed superb. For most of the race it was a three way battle between Lauren Murphy of Cilles, Danielle Donegan of Tullamore and Annie. With 200m to go Annie made her move and stormed up the finishing straight to claim her first Leinster Cross Country title. Aoife Allen (St Senans) was 6th. The county were 1st with KCH 2nd Club and St Senans 3rd club.

Boys u19
Brother Shay was not going to let his twin sister outdo him.. From the word go (or the sound of the gun to be exact) Shay led the field. In fact in the end KCH had three in the top 12 – Shay, James Kearny and Kevin Burns. KCH won the team title with Luke Whelan being their fourth member. Oh the twins would be celebrating in Kilkenny tonight.

The younger ages got under way. Lots of boys and girls u9 raced their hearts out, got their photos taken and hopped off home for dinner – avoiding the rain and contemplating how pleasant the day was. Greiguemanagh, Castlecomer, Thomastown all were basking in sunshine, so was Faro, Buenos Aires and Malta.

David Deneiffe appeared in his wholly hat. If you want one you had better order it now. 15 euro and you can order online before Christmas. Simon Le Bon modelled another one. Liam Keely’s dog is getting one from Santa Clause.

Boys and Girls u11
With the sun still shining and Michael O’Keeffe still smiling the boys and girls u11 got underway. Joss O’Connor (St Josephs) ran a great race – so did his Dad Stephen. He must have covered 10 miles shouting him along. In the end Joss was 2nd. Stephen collapsed with exhaustion.

Gowran seemed to have every child in the North East registered in both the boys and girls u11. The buggles were sounding all morning – beckoning their call. Hundreds came – I hope there is enough Wholly hats to go around. David Deneiffe looked concerned. A frown appeared on his face. A stray rib of hair dangled down his frown.

The Gowran girls got 4th team – you’d swear David Deneiffe himself had ran the race. He was jumping up and down with excitement. The girls were flat on the ground with exhaustion. Simon Le Bon peered out from over his swanky shades and smiled pleasantly. The boys county team got through – so Joss will have company – if they can keep up with them. Well done boys – mid December in Navan for the All Irelands. For most of you its your first. Order your red and white wholly hats in time. Bill Lacey just tweeted his order. Michael O’Leary had just followed him. So had Michael O’Keeffe. Oh and Michael Manning has just done so too.

Girls u13
The diminutive figure of Sara Kehoe (Gowran) trudged through the now mucky field. Light as a feather, this tough cookie was well able for all kinds of courses. Not far behind her were the St Senans duo of Caoimhe Phelan and Charlotte Carpendale. Coach Perri Williams was warming up for the senior race. Bill Lacey was busy tweeting. Michael O’Keeffe stood amid all the O’Keeffe’s he could gather in one place at one time. There was a lot of them. David Deneiffe was running like mad – another Gowran athlete was doing well. Wow, Wow Christ. Sweat rolled down his face from under his red and white wholly hat. Simon Le Bon raised his glasses slightly and gave another pleasant smile. Liam Keely went wild with excitement. He missed his dog. In the end Sara was 4th, Caoimhe 5th and Charlotte Carpendale 6th. And OMG who is that speeding up the straight – by god it is Rachel O’Neill. The bright red singlet standing out from all the green. David Deneiffe was at this stage beside himself with excitement. It took Simon, Michelle and an entire committee to contain him. There was more to come – Gowran got 2nd club. The county were 1st. Things were going well for Kilkenny. Bill Lacey tweeted the results.

Boys u13
Ben Wallis St Senans ran an amazing race – 10th place. Unfortunately he will be the only county representative at the All Ireland’s in this age group. Perri Williams was still warming up. She had a good few years of warming up to catch up on. Bill Lacey tweeted the result. All the Michaels retweeted. Michael O’Keeffe had so many O’Keeffes in the middle of the field that Ger Kirwan was now answering to the name of O’Keeffe.

Girls u15
Hannah Kehoe made light work of the girls u15 race as she glided over the muck and mire. Mind the gap – yelled half of Gowran. It sounded like the intercom on the London underground. Over and over – mind the gap. The “gap” the crowd was referring to was the muddy excuse for what was once a grassy patch at the intersection between two adjoining fields. In a weeks time it would be the site of a major archaeological excavation. Thick slimy mud roared between stones. Hannah placed her foot carefully and lifted it, the suction produced a sound like the gargling of the throat of a whirling pool. Fiona Dillon followed not far behind. Several O’Keeffe’s were behind her again. With just 1,500m completed the heavens opened. Rain appeared from every cloud in the sky. David Deneiffe was glad of his wholly hat. Bill Lacey wished he had one.
It is no secret that Hannah loves the rain and muck and always runs well in those conditions. But when the hailstones started to fall – gigantic rocks pelting against her tiny frame. And then the lightening followed by the thunder. That is where Hannah had to draw the line regarding the conditions she liked to run in. She sped up, moving gracefully between the gigantic balls of hail. A crash of thunder synthesised her entrance to the finishing tunnel. A flash of lightening signified her finish. She has won the Leinsters. Fiona Dillon followed in 6th place. Michael O’Keeffe and all the O’Keffees clapped in unison. Ger Kirwan, confused – also clapped.

Boys u15
Stop. Everyone hold your spot. This is the boys u15 race where the infamous Tadgh Connolly was about to take centre stage. With arms spanning at least 4 other athletes he stood stooped at the front of the pens. As the boys lined up for the race- the rain lined up for the boys. It pelted down. Ger Long offered his umbrella. The boys took it over. Ger got wet – the boys did not care. That teenage boys for you.

With a bang of thunder and flash of lightening the gun sounded. There was a mighty storm in the sky as the equally mighty Connolly was away. Everyone else fell back, struggling to regain their footing from the momentous gush of power that propelled Tadgh forward. He entertained a few athletes at the top, going through lap 1, lap 2 and then lap 3. With Tom Lodge going well in 4th and club mate David Williams in 6th – Tadgh knew he was going to have to make his move soon.
Well Perri Willams at this stage stopped warming up. Bill Lacey gave up on twitter and all of Kilmacow appeared to line the entire course. Liam Keely looked on in amazement. Simon Le Bon removed his glasses. Even Michael O’Leary ran across the field to have a look. So did the entire 600 members of the O’Keeffe clan. There was no catching Tadgh now – he powered up the home straight taking his second Leinster title in 2 weeks. Tom Lodge was 4th, David Willaims 6th and poor Billy Coogan was just edged out of the medals in 13th. The county won the county prize and St Senans were 2nd club. David Deneiffe presented the entire team with red and white wholly hats. Bill Lacey hugged them all. All the O’Keeffe’s hugged each other. Liam Keely could be heard muttering – Jees look at the boys.

Girls u17
With sixty four O’Keeffe’s lining up at the starting line, and as many more lining the inner field the girls u17 got underway. Mud squelched from beneath their feet. Mud poured onto their clothes. Mud splattered their faces. Mud even got onto their teeth. Even the spectators were starting to get splattered with mud. David Deneiffes hat remained pristine. Simon Le Bon lost his glasses. Bill Lacey lost his phone. Perri Williams was lost in the mud.
The first of the O’Keeffe’s, Hannah was one of four athletes to break away early. She was going well, strong and focused. It was always going to be a tough race – with the other three girls in her company having represented Ireland in the last year. Hannah herself is a double veteran of two of this years International events. Aine Kirwan was a close 5th with the St Senans duo of Tara Ramsawmy and Sophie Jackman just behind. Behind them were all the other O’Keeffe’s. Michael, Breda, Billy and Margaret O’Keffee shouted words of encouragement to them all. So do Ger Kirwan. So did Liam Keely. So did Perri Williams. David Deneiffe was too busy taking orders for red and white wholly hats.Simon was still looking for his glasses.
Up the last climb and Hannah had moved into 3rd a position she held to the end. Aine was 6th, Tara 8th and 400m hurdler Sophie Jackman 10th. Liam Keely made a note to get all his hurdlers out doing cross country. All his hurdlers made a note to steer clear of Liam Keely.

With all the O’Keeffes now returning to their base to eat their sandwiches and drink their flask of tea, the boys u17 lined up. So did Bill Lacey. Perri Williams started warming up again. Her race was after this one. Coming out of retirement is a big thing.

Boys u17
Cathal Kearney led the boys home to 4th county. And St Senans managed 3rd club. Bill Lacey was wild with excitement. OMG that was three teams through to the All Ireland’s for St Senans from today. David Deneiffe presented him with a whooly hat. Bill presented David with his old one.

The rain had started to lash down again. All the O’Keeffe’s disappeared – only Michael remained. The sole survivor of the invasion of the clan. Simon still could not find his glasses. Richard Connolly could not find his wife. Perri Williams put on her spikes. David Deneiffe put on Bill Lacey’s old hat. The boys u17 put on their medals.

Senior Ladies
Kilkenny had a fantastic ladies team. All the ladies were fantastic. Lauren Dearmody was fit as a fiddle – Perri Williams fiddled with being fit. Why had Elaine entered her. It was a joke she said. The kids would love it.
The girls all lined up. Bang went the gun. OMG Perri had missed the race. What a disaster. Ah well, these things happen. No use crying over spilt milk said Perri as she spilled her son’s bottle of milk.
Lauren Dearmody powered down the top of the field. She had recently been taking lessons in the Power department from Tadgh Connolly. Richard Connolly (another Connolly – no relation) shouted her on. Liam Keely shouted her on. Rocky Mernagh with his bionic knee shouted her on. Simon Le Bon shouted her on. Bill Lacey shouted her on. OMG Lauren was deaf at this stage.
Back in 3rd spot Sally Forristal was doing well and getting just as many shouts. Maggie Hellen had the entire Fit 4 Life gang with her. It was like Croke Park on match day.
The St Senans girls who had spent their entire athletic careers guided by Bill Lacey’s mantra “do it for the shield” were wondering how on earth they had got to adult hood and were still guided by the shield. Michelle McDonald was 6th, followed by Adele Walsh, Aine Kinsella and Bronagh Kearns. A few O’Keeffe’s followed them. All the Michaels followed Bill on twitter.
In the end it was Kilkenny with 1st county and St Senans with 3rd club. Bill Lacey nearly had a heart attack – Liam Keely had one years ago.

Senior Men
In what could only be described as the Kulcatta of rainstorms – the mens race got underway. After the first lap I left. I could not take any more of the soaking. So did everyone else. The athletes would have left too had they not travelled so far to race. James Kelly was 5th with Niall Sheehan 6th. Conor Rochford was next with Jonathan Crowley behind him. Then came Peter Barry. He had got up out of his bed with the flu and would return later that evening with the flu fully intact.

And so with an order of 1000 wholly hats, loads of medals and a gathering of the O’Keeffe clan – we all returned to our homes. Safe dry and a little more madder than when we had arrived. Well done to all those fantastic athletes who did their clubs and county proud.

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