The cream of athletes from across Ulster were treated to a fine days competition in good conditions at Mallusk playing fields on Wednesday 22nd February. The College athletes enjoyed a highly successful day that ended with the best overall school title, two team victories, along with third (yr9), fourth (yr8) and sixth (yr13&14) place finishes for the five teams competing. The three medal winning teams will progress to the All-Ireland Championships also at Mallusk on Saturday 11th March.
The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the Intermediate team who retained their title from last year. A highly competitive battle was expected against a St. Colman’s Newry team that had won the All-Ireland in this age group two years ago. In the early stages both schools had three athletes in the top ten, as the race progressed the boys in green moved up as a tight pack and managed to place all four scorers in the top ten. A few meters covered our top four finishers with 300m of the 4,500m to go. Cormac O’Rourke produced his customary strong finish to secure 4th place, Conall McClean continued his fantastic improvement close behind in 5th, Adam Ferris was the top year 11 finisher in the race in 7th place and Conal Browne rounded out a superb top four in 9th place. Matteo Lavorca ran a great race to finish 17th, which would have seen him scoring on any other team in the province. Thomas reid (41st) Fionn McQuillan (47th) and Oisin McQuillan (72nd) rounded out the team.
The best individual performance of the day was Daniel McComiskey’s brilliant third place to lead the Junior boys to a strong team victory. Daniel contested for the win for most of the 3,000m distance, and just lost out on the silver medal in a sprint to the line. Fionntan Campbell continued his great season with a tenth place finish; Callum Morgan was close behind in 13th. Oscar Smyth and Ruari Gallagher had a good battle to see who would be the final scorer with Oscar just taking it in 23rd to Ruari’s 24th place. Adam Wright (39th) and Darragh Gorman completed the team.
The Minor boys (Year 9) improved from 5th place last year to take the team bronze medals and secure a berth at the All-Ireland finals. They were led by tremendous top ten finishes from Matthew Lavery in 9th and Luke Kelly in 10th. Cian McGrath in 26th and Conall McGirr in 44th completed the team scoring. Kelvin Kearney (66th) Anthony McGarrigle (71st) Leo Ashe (96th) and Simon Ostermayer (101st) completed the team.
The mini boys (Year 8) enjoyed their first experience of Ulster Schools competition; narrowly missing out on team bronze with their fourth place finish. Fintan McDaid ran an excellent race to lead the team in 14th place. Diarmuid Hanna worked hard to move up throughout the race to 19th place after a poor start. Caoimhin Killyleagh in 33rd and Luke Ferris in 52nd completed the scoring quartet. Eoghan Breen (55th) Evan Stanley (101st) Conor McAlister (102nd) and Caolan Hanna (123rd) completed the team.
The senior boys team competed well for sixth place. The four finishers were Kieron Conway (25th) John Joe McCool (43rd) Niall Armstrong (44th) and Emmet Maguire (49th). John Joe should be praised for stepping in at the last minute to ensure we finished a team after Conor O’Rawe withdrew with injury. Emmet also deserves credit as a year 11 running in the senior age group.
Due to their excellent performances Luke Kelly (U13) Adam Ferris (U15) Cormac O’Rourke and Conall McClean (both U17) have all been selected for the Northern Ireland team for the London Mini marathon in April.