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Heaslip causes a stir as Christie rolls back the years

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Heaslip causes a stir as Christie rolls back the years          

Shona Heaslip even surprised herself while Mark Christie rolled back the years as they took the senior Irish Life Health national cross country titles at an atmospheric Sport Ireland National Sports Campus today (November 27).

The purpose-build Sport Ireland national cross country course provided the perfect spectacle in ideal racing conditions. While it may have been somewhat cold for spectators it was anything but in the hot competition from U12s right up to the seniors.

Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole) skipped the nationals to run the 35th Cross Internacional de la Constituciónin in Spain and took a notable victory over Ethiopia’s Etenesh Diro Neda who ran a 5,000m pb of 14:33.30 in the summer and was an Olympic finalist in the steeplechase.  

The Wicklow woman’s victory was somewhat expected but not the same could be said of Shona Heaslip’s (An Riocht) shock victory in the senior women’s 8,000m in 28:13. Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle) pipped pre-race favourite Ciara Mageean (UCD) at the finish by one second in 28:23 for second place.

“Driving up I was hoping to be the first U23 athlete,” said the delighted 22-year-old afterwards who completely surpassed that. Heaslip had shown little form coming into the race but the last month she managed to change things around focusing solely on her running.

“I had a lot on and graduated from IT Tralee in Health and Leisure,” she explained. “I felt good in the race but I had to check myself running alongside the other girls who I had watched on television in the summer,” referring to Rio Olympians O’Flaherty and Mageean.

As a result Bethanie Murray (DSD) won the U23 race with Amy O’Donoghue (Emerald) second and Elizabeth Carr (Mullingar Harriers) third.    

Mark Christie (Mullingar Harriers) rolled back the years to win the senior men’s 10,000m title in 30:41 ahead of Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock) second in 30:53 and Mark Hanrahan (Leevale) third in 30:57.

Clohisey was aiming for four straight wins but had the consolation of guiding Raheny Shamrock to the club’s first senior men’s team title in their history. They had finished second 8 times in the last 11 years making the victory all the sweeter. Dundrum South Dublin were equally dominant winning the senior women’s team race.

“I fell out of love with cross country a little bit but I set myself this as a target to get back in the mix,” said Christie afterwards having won this race ten years ago. “I watched the lads in the Rio Olympics and that was a bit bittersweet but it was definitely good to be back in there running with them today.”

Jack O’Leary (Mullingar Harriers) returned from his scholarship at Iona College in the US to win the junior men’s 6,000m impressively in 18:37 ahead of Peter Lynch (Kilkenny City Harriers) and Fearghal Curtain (Youghal).

Sophie Murphy (DSD) was a strong winner of the junior women’s 4,000m in 14:18 ahead of Amy Rose Farrell (Blackrock) and Carla Sweeney (WSAF).

Athletes that caught the eye in the underage races were Sarah Healy (Blackrock) and Louis O’Loughlin (Donore Harriers) who had too much for their counterparts in the U16 girls and U16 boys.

Sophie Quinn (Ratoath) got action underway winning the U12 girls 2,000m with Oisin Colhoun (City of Derry) winning the U12 boys race.

In the U14 3,000m races Aimee Hayde (Newport) hung on gamely to take gold over Cara Laverty (City of Derry) while William Fox (Castlecomer) had too much cunning for his opponents in the boys.  

The U18 races took place as part of the junior races and Emma O’Brien (Inbhear Dee/Sli Cualann) took gold in the girls 4,000m race with Darragh McElhinney (Bantry) continuing his fine form in the boys race.

For full results click HERE 

Top 3 individuals and clubs

Irish Life Health National Cross Country, Sport Ireland National Sports Campus

Women

U12 2,000m

Sophie Quinn (Ratoath)
Lauren Madine (East Down)
Keelin Collins (Celtic DCH)

Club

Youghal
Ratoath
East Down

U14 3,000m

Aimee Hayde (Newport)
Cara Laverty (City of Derry)
Aine Kirwan (Thomastown)

Club

Mullingar Harriers
Dundrum South Dublin
Youghal

U16 4,000m

Sarah Healy (Blackrock)
Lucy Holmes (West Waterford)
Saoirse O’Brien (Westport)

Club

Mullingar Harriers
Metro/St Brigid’s
Skerries

U18 4,000m

Emma O’Brien (Inbhear Dee/Sli Cualann)
Jodie McCann (DSD)
Stephanie Cotter (West Muskerry)

Club

Dundrum South Dublin
Inbhear Dee
Mullingar Harriers

Junior 4,000m

Sophie Murphy (DSD)
Amy Rose Farrell (Blackrock)
Carla Sweeney (WSAF)

Club

Dundrum South Dublin
Sli Cualann
Mullingar Harriers

U23 8,000m

Bethanie Murray (DSD)
Amy O’Donoghue (Emerald)
Elizabeth Carr (Mullingar Harriers)

Senior 8,000m

Shona Heaslip (An Riocht)
Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle)
Ciara Mageean (UCD)

Club

Dundrum South Dublin
Leevale
An Riocht

Men

U12 2,000m

Oisin Colhoun (City of Derry)
Padraic Spillane (St Laurence O’Toole)
Tomas Haigney (Omagh Harriers)

Club

Mullingar Harriers
Metro/St Brigid’s
Letterkenny

U14 3,000m

William Fox (Castlecomer)
Malcolm MacEvilly (Westport)
Morgan Clarkson (Dundrum South Dublin)

Club

Ennis Track Club
Westport
Mullingar Harriers

U16 4,000m

Louis O’Loughlin (Donore Harriers)
Conor Maguire (Monaghan Phoenix)
Christopher O’Reilly (Togher)

Club

St Malachy’s
Clonliffe Harriers
West Waterford

U18 6,000m

Darragh McElhinney (Bantry)
Charlie O’Donovan (Leevale)
Sean O’Leary (Clonliffe Harriers)

Club

Ennis Track
Mullingar Harriers
Clonliffe Harriers

Junior 6,000m

Jack O’Leary (Mullingar Harriers)
Peter Lynch (Kilkenny City Harriers)
Fearghal Curtin (Youghal)

Club

Clonliffe Harriers
Dundrum South Dublin
Mullingar Harriers

U23 10,000m

Karl Fitzmaurice (Ennis Track)
Mitchell Byrne (Rathfarnham)
Darragh Fitzgibbon (Donore Harriers)

Senior 10,000m

Mark Christie (Mullingar Harriers)
Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock)
Mark Hanrahan (Leevale)

Club

Raheny Shamrock
Ennis Track

Kilkenny City Harriers

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