Mallusk set for schools magic
Mallusk set for cross country magic
The island's best young distance runners will descend upon Mallusk Playing Fields in pursuit of individual and team honours at the Irish Life Health All Ireland Schools Cross Country Championships on Saturday (March 11th).
There will be multiple star pupils on show but it will be hard to look beyond Sarah Healy (Holy Child Killiney) and Darragh McElhinney (Pobal Scoil Bheanntrai) in the intermediate age groups.
Healy has been quietly and efficiently rising through the ranks and won a high-quality Irish Life Health Leinster intermediate girls’ race from Abbie Taylor (Wesley) and Annie McEvoy (Loreto Kilkenny).
Healy will be hard pressed to be beaten in Mallusk over 3,600m but Connacht’s Saoirse O’Brien (SH Westport) Laura Hayes (Loreto Fermoy) will also be keen competitors.
Darragh McElhinney has been going from strength to strength since winning the SIAB Schools 1500m title last summer and set an set a new Irish Youth 3000m Record, of 8:18.88 at the AAI Games at the Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena, Abbotstown eclipsing John Treacy's long standing record of 8:20.40, set in Edinburgh, in July 1974.
The intermediate boys’ 5,200m race will also feature St Kieran’s College Kilkenny duo Adam Fitzpatrick and Shay McEvoy. Fitzpatrick held off the fast finishing McEvoy as they dominated the team race at the Leinsters. Omagh’s Sean Corry put in a classy performance to win the Ulster Schools title in Mallusk and his local knowledge could play a part in proceedings on Saturday.
Strathearn’s Amelia Kane was another to impress at the Ulster Schools and will be to the fore of the field in the junior girls’ 2,550m race. Kane won the London Mini Marathon last year in record time. Munster’s Aimee Hayde (St Mary’s Newport) should also be at the business end of race while Leinster pair Aine Kirwan (Loreto Kilkenny) and Neasa Reilly (St Vincent’s Dundalk) will also be in contention. Loreto Kilkenny look likely being one of the leading teams with three to score.
Sean Donoghue (St Declan’s) won the minor boys title goes into the junior boys 3,600m as Leinster champion while Paul Hartnett (Colaiste an Chraoibhin Fermoy) is the Munster champion – both will be two of the leading contenders but expect some surprise results throughout the day.
Sophie Murphy (Mount Anville) will look to set a searing pace from the gun in the senior girls 2,550m. Jodie McCann (Institute of Education), Emma O’Brien (DCW) and Stephanie Cotter (Coachford College) will be among those looking to hang on to her coattails.
Fearghal Curtin (Midleton CBS) should have the strength to last the pace in the senior boys’ 6,500m. He will face off against fellow provincial winners Sean O’Leary (St Aidan’s), Fintan Stewart (Lumen Christi, Derry) and Gary Martyn (Galway CC). Charlie O’Donovan (Colaiste Chriost Ri Cork) should also be in the mix with Colaiste Mhuire Mullingar, St Eunan’s Letterkenny, St Aidan’s and St Flannan’s College all in contention for the team prize.
St Flannan’s College had the first three individuals’ home in the minor race at the Munster schools lead by Dean Casey but still only managed second team. They will be aspiring to up the ante in Mallusk over 2,550m. Victor Esosa (St Joseph’s Drogheda) powered his way victory in the Leinster championships and will look to replicate that performance.
The minor girls 2,000m will get proceedings underway at 12 noon. Wallace High’s Victoria Lightbody Roisin O’Brien (SH Westport) and Sarah Hosey (Castletroy) will look to be crowned the first champion of the day.
Mallusk has been host to multiple international IAAF cross country meetings and should provide the perfect backdrop for an entertaining day of athletics.
Minor Girls 2,000m Call Up 11:50am Race 12 Noon
Minor Boys 2,550m Call Up 12:05pm Race 12:15pm
Junior Girls 2,550m Call Up 12:20pm Race 12:30pm
Junior Boys 3,600m Call Up 12:40pm Race 12:50pm
*Presentation Minor and Junior Team prizes 1.10pm
Intermediate Girls 3,600m Call Up 1:20pm Race 1:30pm
Intermediate Boys 5,200m Call Up 1:40pm Race 1.50pm
Senior Girls 2,550m Call Up 2:05pm Race 2:15pm
Senior Boys 6,500m Call Up 2:20pm Race 2:30pm