St. Malachy’s take a clean sweep of the titles at South Antrim district cross country championships
St. Malachy’s started off the schools cross country campaign in excellent fashion, winning all the boys team titles on offer at the postponed event at Ulster University Jordanstown. Crisp and cool conditions greeted the runners, but thankfully it stayed day and bright throughout the day. This is the first time in a few years that we have managed to claim all the team titles.
Sean Murray got proceedings off to a fantastic start taking charge of the Mini boys race at the half way stage and extending his lead to nine seconds at the finish. Luke Kelly battled hard to the finish, narrowly missing an individual medal in fourth. Only one second separated Conall McGirr and Kelvin Kearney in 9th and 11th as they completed the scoring quartet. Luke O’Connor (14th) Anthony McGarrigle (17th) Cian McGrath (18th) and Simon Ostermayer (26th) all competed fantastically in their first schools championships and would have scored on any other schools team. The team had a dominating win, finishing first of 11 teams and scoring 25 points to Methody’s 82 points in second.
Ruairi Gallagher overcame a mid-race fall to finish an excellent second place to lead the Minor boys team. Daniel McComiskey showed great speed and strength to nip third place in a sprint finish. These two were followed closely by Callum Morgan in 7th and Oscar Smyth in 10th to complete a commanding team performance. As with the Mini’s Fionntan Campbell (14th) Jack Maguire (19th) and Darragh Gorman in 20th would have scored on any other schools team. Conor o’Neill was close behind in 36th.
The Junior boys had the closest team battle of the day, but moved up through the field brilliantly as the race progressed to overcome Methody by 7 points. Adam Ferris was disappointed with his individual silver medal after getting a poor start, but he will learn from this for the Ulster Championships next week. Keelan Benson (9th) Fionn McQuillan (10th) and Ciaran Beattie (13th) packed together well to secure the team title.
The Inter boys are probably our strongest team despite all the scorers being year 11’s in this joint year 11 and 12 age group. Tim Scott ran a strong race to finish a clear second place having ran most of the race on his own. Conall Browne pounced out of the chasing pack on the final lap to claim the individual bronze medal. The versatile Cormac O’Rourke showed his class to pick up a few places in the run in to finish 6th. Conal McClean continued his excellent performances this year to finish strongly in 8th place and ensure the team achieved the smallest winning total for the day (19 points). Such is the strength of this team that Matteo Lavorca, returning from a short lay off, in 12th, Colm Holbeach (16th) and Kieron Conway (17th) didn’t count in the team scoring. Gerard McCool continued his return from injury in 35th.
The Senior boys team has had its challenges this year, losing a couple of key members to injury, but those who did compete did an outstanding job in a very competitive race. Eoin Maguire closely chased two of last year’s All-Ireland medallists home to claim the individual bronze medal. Connor McCann continued his strong return to form in 6th place. Lorcan McClean competed well to claim 8th place and new boy Conor O’Rawe finished up the team superbly in 11th place.
All these teams have now qualified for the Ulster Championships at Mallusk on Wednesday 10th February, where they will face much sterner opposition. The first three teams and 15 individuals in each race will qualify for the All Ireland Championships in Sligo in early March.