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Big fields and exciting races in store at National Novice

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Big fields and exciting races in store at National Novice

The Irish Life Health National Novice and Juvenile Uneven Cross Country Championships promises to provide another exciting day of racing at the Navan Adventure Sports Centre in Meath on Saturday (December 15th).

It’s hard to rival the spectacle of the national novice with big fields and athletes of all abilities competing for their clubs, counties and, of course, for individual success. It looks set to be a muddy affair with heavy rain forecast throughout the country on Saturday. 

Action gets underway with girls U11 1500m at 11:30am with 12 races in total. The venue has already hosted the Leinster Novice which proved a great success last month. The course provides a good technical challenge for the runners with plenty of hills along with switchback and hairpin turns to test the runners. Full entry list is HERE and timetable HERE

Big women's field

The women’s 4,000m has quality to match big numbers. Ballyroan Abbeyleix and District have a strong team with Avril Deegan and Sorcha Maloney leading their ranks.

Crusaders have a strong team and entry along with Clonliffe Harriers bringing big numbers. Dublin City Harriers should mount a strong challenge along with Raheny Shamrock who have a solid squad with a blend of youth and experience.

Other individual contenders on the entry list include Niamh Carey (DSD), Aisling Joyce (Galway City Harriers), Carla Sweeney (Rathfarnham WSAF) and Cheryl Nolan (St Abban’s).

Men’s cavalry charge

Cormac Dalton (Mullingar Harriers) won the Leinster novice on this course in a great battle with Mitchell Byrne (Rathfarnham WSAF) and both return to duke it out over the 6,000m distance.

Dalton took a good step forward finishing 14th in the Irish Life Health National Cross Country Championships in Abbotstown last month and will look to continue his good form.  

Sean O’Leary (Clonliffe Harriers), who had a fine 18 place finish in the U20 race at the European Cross Country Championships last weekend, is on the entry list and, should he run, will lead a strong Clonliffe challenge. The Northside Dublin club will look to continue their success having won performance club of the year for 2018 at the National Athletics Awards.

Among the other individual contenders are Joseph Hastings (DSD), Niall Cornyn (Dunboyne), JP Carty (Sligo) and Joseph Lyons (Tallaght).

The national novice always throws up relative unknowns who will come to the fore of the fields and it will be intriguing to see how the battles unfold.

It is also good to see plenty of numbers and new runners toeing the line along with Waterstown Warriors, one of the newly formed clubs, entering teams in both the women’s and men’s races.

Exciting Juvenile Races

The juvenile races will provide plenty of thrills and spills with a cavalier racing spirit. Pace judgement could prove crucial on the hills.

The U17 girls 4,000m has a strong entry headed by Aimee Hayde (Newport) who won the U18 title in Abbotstown last month. Others to reckon with include City of Derry Spartans pair Cara Laverty and Aela Stewart along with Neasa Reilly (Dunleer) and Ava O’Connor (Tullamore Harriers). Thomastown come in with a strong team and there will be a good battle for team medals.

The U17 boys 5,000m also has a quality entry list with Cian McPhillips (Longford) and Sean Donoghue (Celtic DCH) looking to mix it with the Casey twins, Dylan and Dean, of Ennis Track Club.

St Malachy’s continue to make good progress and have a good team.

There is no shortage of quality on the entry list for the U19 girls 4,000m with Jodie McCann (DCH), Maeve Gallagher (Swinford), Orla O’Connor (Waterford) and Mia McCalmont (Tir Chonaill) listed.

Saturday will paint a clearer picture as to who races but Ferrybank are among those who have a good team entered.

The boys U19 6,000m is the last juvenile race on the card and has the potential to dish up another good race up front with Shay McEvoy (Kilkenny City Harriers), Efrem Gidey (Clonliffe Harriers), Keelan Kilrehill (Moy Valley) and Conall McLean (St Malachy’s).

This is the last national cross country event of 2018 and it is sure to sign off with a bang. There is excellent course parking and course visibility with Meath Athletics always putting on a good event.  

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