Team and Individual Success at Ulster Schools Cross Country
Two team and one individual title highlighted a successful day at the Ulster Schools’ Cross Country Championships at a cold, crisp Mallusk. A fantastic one two finish from Matthew Lavery and Luke Kelly spearheaded an excellent senior team victory and a storming finish from Cathair McKenna led the Minor Boys (yr9) to a superb team victory.
Matthew Lavery hit the front and started pushing the pace right from the start of the Senior Boys 6.2km four lap race. By half way Luke Kelly was the only one who could stay with him and it was clear the individual victor would come from the pair. An enthralling battle ensued with Matthew the aggressor and Luke following right behind. By the start of the last lap Matthew had opened a small gap that he maintained to the finish. Luke never gave up the chase and was only a few metres behind at the line. Luke Ferris ran a smart race to move up to 9th at the finish. Flynn Maguire stepped up to complete the scoring in 20th with Evan Stanley(23rd) Ronan McAree (24th) and Diarmuid Hanna (25th) finishing close behind.
The Minor Boys showed maturity beyond their years in their racing to claim a well-deserved team victory. The group executed their plan to stay controlled through the first half of the 2.5km race and pick up places over the second half to perfection. Cathair McKenna moved up throughout the race making his way into the top 20 with around 600m to run and then charged through the field to make his way to 12th at the finish. TJ Weatherup (23rd) Tomas Benson (26th) and Ben Neal (29th) ran superbly to complete the scoring quartet.
These two teams will move onto the Irish Schools Championships on 12th March.
The Mini Boys (yr8) team gained valuable experience of a race at this level only missing out on a place on the podium by one spot to finish 4th out of the 15 teams that qualified. Sé Sweetnam ran a gutsy race to lead the team home in 16th. He was closely followed by Tiernan Conway in 20th. JoJo Matambanadzo (43rd) and Cillian Carabine (45th) were the other scorers.
The Inter Boys (yr11&12) also claimed 4th place and were only 6 points from 3rd. Finn Diver ran an excellent race to finish in 4th place, competing against boys a year older, only losing out on an individual medal in a sprint finish. Eoin Privilege (36th), Lucas Jimenez (38th), Nathan Morris (43rd) and Adam McCann (48th) worked well throughout the 4.5km race.
Eoin McConnell was the top finisher on the Junior Boys team that finished in 7th place. His 15th place finish earned him the final individual qualifying spot for the All-Ireland’s.
With two team wins and two fourth places across the five races St. Malachy’s picked up the trophy for the best overall school at the Championships.
Full results available at https://www.myrunresults.com/events/ulster_schools_xc_championships/4361/results
Video of top two finish in Senior Boys race