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Schools’ stars to clash in Carriganore


Schools’ stars to clash in Carriganore

The Irish Life Health All Ireland Schools Cross Country Championships promise to provide another exciting day of action at the WIT sportsgrounds in Carriganore this Saturday (March 10).

Notable stars include Sarah Healy (Holy Child Killiney), Aimee Hayde (St Mary’s Newport), Louis O’Loughlin (Moyle Park) and Darragh McElhinney (Colaiste Phobail Bheanntrai) but there will be a lot more in store with team races also paramount alongside other individuals looking to etch their names into the annals of schools’ athletics.

There will certainly be gold in the hills with the course providing  some challenging sections and undulations. You can see the course map and timetable HERE

The first race of the day will be the minor girls’ 2,000m with Sophie Quinn (Mount Sackville) and Jodie McMullen (Markethill HS) among the individual contenders. Anyone can spring a surprise in the younger age groups with experience and enjoyment gained at this age certainly more important than medals. Strathearn and St Peter’s Dunboyne will be in the team shake up.

In the minor boys’ 2,500m Oisin Duffy from Lumen Christie is national age group champion and should be in contention along with Diarmuid Fagan (Colaiste Mhuire Mullingar) hoping to be around the podium. St Kieran’s College Kilkenny packed impressively to win Leinster and it will be interesting to see how they fare.

Cara Laverty (Thornhill) was the minor girls’ winner in 2017 – coached by father Sean who also coached Fintan Stewart, Senior Boys’ champion 12 months ago – is one to watch out for in the junior girls 2,500m.

Fiona Dillon led the light blue team of Loreto Kilkenny home in first closely followed by her schoolmate Hannah Keogh in the Leinsters and they will have a strong team line-up.

Similarly in the junior boys’ 3,500m Dylan McBride (Grosvenor Grammar) won the minor boys last year and has developed well since then. Morgan Clarkson (Colaiste Eoin) will be in the individual mix while the St Flannan’s College dream team including the Casey twins, Dean and Dylan, and Luke Griffin who took a clean sweep of the Munster podium have team golden thoughts.

Amelia Kane (Strathearn Grammar) had an epic battle with Aimee Hayde (St Mary’s Newport) last year in the junior Girls’ and the rivalry will be renewed up an age in the intermediate girls’ 3,500m. Loreto Kilkenny will again look for another strong team showing.

The intermediate boys’ 5,000m promises to offer an intriguing individual and team race. Louis O’Loughlin (Moyle Park) is undoubtedly favoured with his blend of speed and endurance but Adam Ferris (St. Malachy’s, Belfast) has eyes on individual glory along with the team title for the Belfast school which is headed by coach Joe McAlister.

Belvedere College will be aiming to match their rugby heroics this week and have a very strong team which includes John Fanning and Daniel Stone. Individually Sean Donoghue (St Declan’s Cabra) and Tommy Connolly (CBC Cork) with St Flannan’s also hoping to be in the team standings at the end of the race.

There will be no looking past Sarah Healy (Holy Child Killiney) in the senior girls’ 2,500m where Enya Haigney will look to lead Loreto College, Omagh to the team title. Castleknock Community College also have a strong team while other leading inviduals should include Laura Hayes (Loreto Fermoy) and Aoife O’Brien (Sacred Heart Westport). Wesley College will also have a strong individual and team presence should Abbie Taylor return to the line-up having missed the Leinsters.

The senior boys’ 6,000m sees a Munster rematch with Darragh McElhinney (Colaiste Phobail Bheanntrai) taking on Charlie O’Donovan (Colaiste Chriost Ri). Other individuals in the mix should include Sean O’Leary (St Aidan’s), Efrem Gidey (Le Cheile SS Tyrrelstown), Patrick McNiff (Banbridge Academy) and Jamie Battle (Colaiste Mhuire Mullingar). O’Donovan will also hope to lead his school Colaiste Chriost Ri to team gold but Leinster champions Colaiste Mhuire Mullingar are arguably the favourites.

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