Twelve young Ireland athletes competed and acquitted themselves extremely well on a very testing course at the British Cross Country Challenge in Perth Scotland last Saturday (January 14th).

First in action for Team Ireland were the U15 girls (4000m), and from the gun Eimear Cooney of Ace AC raced superbly to remain in contention for the leading places throughout. Cooney was unrelenting in setting a blistering pace, and did extremely well to dig deep on her way to earning a top three finish and the bronze medal.

Dearbhla Allen of St Peter’s AC also race superbly, working her way through from 8th to 4th to finish just 11 seconds back from 3rd. Allen showed great strength to hold off 3 athletes over the last 600m. 

Jodi Foster of Willowfield Harriers AC wag gritty as ever and gained 4 places over the latter stages of the race to finish a very respectable 21st place.

The U17 girls were up next and the race saw Clodagh Gill (Moy Valley AC) go with the leading group from the gun. She thried over the 6,000m course, finishing in 6th place in a top class field.

Julie Cleary (Donore Harriers) was Ireland’s next finisher in 15th place on her international debut. Rachel Ayres (St Abbans AC) battled her way to 28th place, and after a late call to the squad she gained great experience and coped really well in what was also her first outing in an Ireland vest.

The U17 boys (6,000m) were lead out by a now experienced Darragh Mulrooney (Moy Valley AC). Mulrooney finished in 14th place with the course now proving very heavy for the final races of the day.

Ireland’s next  5 team members packed very well in the U17 race. Peter Farrell (Ennis Track Club) made the top 20 with a 19th place finish after a strong battle with Caolan Mc Fadden (Cranford AC) in 22nd. Ethan Doherty (Westport AC) worked his way through to 23rd closely followed by Tom Breslin of Clonliffe Harriers in 25th. Diarmuid Moloney (Nenagh Olympic AC) completed the 6 strong squad in 28th. This group battled really hard over the tough hilly terrain against top opposition.

From a development point of view this was an extremely valuable venture. A first Irish vest is a great achievement and testament to the hard work these athletes, their clubs, and coaches have put in over the past few years.

For those who had represented Ireland previously, it was another opportunity to gain more  experience which will stand to each young athlete immensely over their career.

These young athletes are used to competing for podium places at our National Championships, and it is vital they get the opportunity to compete at a higher level at this early point in their development.

Congratulations to all 12 athletes and well done on the great support and guidance they get from their coaches, clubs and their families.

 - Athletics Ireland Juvenile Committee

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