This Saturday at St. Mary’s College, Galway, the Aviva All-Ireland Schools’ Cross Country takes place. This annual fixture is the culmination of six weeks of competition for the country’s best young athletes. They have progressed from their regional qualifiers, and through their provincial championships to reach the prestigious All Ireland Schools Finals.
The Senior Boys event should provide an exciting conclusion to the day’s programme. Kevin Dooney (CBC Monkstown) will start as hot favourite after his impressive display in winning the National Junior Championships in Santry two weeks ago. Dooney will be highly motivated to take victory having finished second in last year’s race. Dooney can expect a tough battle from Sean Tobin (High School Clonmel), Tobin sat out the National Junior Championships in Santry, in order to prepare fully for this race. Ryan Holt (Methodist College) was a clear winner of the Ulster Schools title and should challenge for a top position.
In the team event it will be very close between Douglas Community College, High School Clonmel, CBS Mullingar and St. Coleman’s Newry.
In the Senior Girls’ race, Clar Nic Chartaigh (Colaiste Iosagain) is the likely favourite. Nic Chartaigh was an impressive winner of the Leisnter Schools’ title and more recently finished in third position at the National Junior Championships. Mary Mulhare (Scoil Chriost Ri Portloaise), Bronagh Croke (Crescent College Comp Limerick) and Lorna Fitzpatrick (Sacred Heart, Newry) are all capable of taking the race on Saturday.
The Intermediate Boys’ race should be an open race with the winner capable of coming from any of the following Aaron O’Hanlon (St Mary’s Drogheda) Conor Christie (Cross and Passion), Kyle Larkin (Ard Scoil Ris Limerick), Cillian O’Donovan (Colaiste na Sceilige Cahirciveen).
The Girls Intermediate race has a clear favourite in Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Colaiste Iosagain). Buttner will look to return to winning ways after her surprise second place at the National Junior Championships in Santry two weeks ago. Yasmin Wilson (BallyClare High), Sarah Fitzpatrick (Our Lady’s Terenure), Rosie Hynes (St Attractas Tubbercurry) and Aisling Quinn (Ursuline Waterford) should challenge for a podium place.
Watch out for Glen Gaffney (CBS Mullingar) in the Junior Boys’ race after his impressive provincial victory. Challengers should include Jack Kyle (King’s Hospital), Luke Dinsmore (Coleraine AI), Padraig Creaven (St Marys Galway) and Lucas O’Horgain (Colaiste Chriost Ri).
The Junior Girls’ race should see a battle between Niamh Casey (Mercy, Waterford) and Carla Sweeney (St MacDara’s). Others likely to feature are Ciara Greene (Bower Athlone) and Clodagh O’Reilly (Loreto College Cavan).
There are a total of 8 races on programme; there will be great battles in the team events where all the young athletes will be running for their schools and team-medals.
This year’s event will again see the unique Aviva Irish Schools hoodies available to purchase on the day.
Keep an eye on the IrishSchoolsAthletics Facebook page for live results and pictures of all the days’ races.