Lindie Naughton brings the first Irish round-up of 2024 and apologies for it’s late arrival from editor Robbie Britton, who was running around in Mallorca instead. 

A massive 464 finished the Dublin Masters Cross-Country Championships, held over four races at St Anne’s Park, Raheny on Sunday (January 7).

First up were the over 50 women and the over 65 men who raced just three kilometres and were unlucky enough to endure the only rain of the day.

A clear overall winner of the race was Annette Kealy of Raheny Shamrock AC who is back in top form. Kealy, who was also first W55, pushed the pace from the start and beat all the men as well as the women, finishing in 12 mins 19 secs. Second and first M65 was Michael Walsh of Brothers Pearse in 12:45, while third in 12:52 was Sean Doyle of Rathfarnham WSAF. Tom Loftus of Raheny Shamrock AC was just a second behind for fourth overall and third M65.

Fifth overall and second woman was Breda Smyth of Lucan Harriers in 12:54, who was also first W50. An impressive first W65 was Mary Browne of Lucan Harriers who was eleventh woman; first W60 was Fiona Byrne of Civil Service Harriers; a revived club that was out in force. Team winners were the Raheny women and the Rathfarnham WSAF men.

Next up were the over 50 men, with Ciaran McCarthy of Raheny Shamrock AC roared to the line by the large crowd of spectators and Raheny also the team winners.

A race for the ages

In the women’s over 35 race, Kate Purcell of Raheny Shamrock was the defending champion and from the start she and Maria McCambridge of Dundrum South Dublin AC pushed the pace.

Although McCambridge, now aged 48, is an Olympian with national cross-country, track 5000m, and marathon titles to her credit, victory in this race had eluded her. Boosted by an indoors 800m the day before, she timed her effort perfectly, pulling away on the final lap to win in 14 mins 47 secs. Purcell in second place was also first W40 and was leading Raheny to team victory over defending champions Sportsworld.

Last up were the over 35 men who faced four laps of a course that was now well churned up. Setting the pace from the start were Paul Stephenson of Rathfarnham WSAF AC and Pierce Geoghegan of Liffey Valley AC, with Eddie O’Connor of Brothers Pearse, who had won the Dublin inter title only a year earlier, a close third.

By the third lap, Stephenson, the pre-race favourite, had built up a considerable lead and was lapping the back markers. He went on to win in an impressive time of 23 mins 58 seconds for the 7km distance. Geoghegan was second in 24:13 and O’Connor third in 24:54. Fourth and first M40 was previous overall winner Karol David Cronin of Sportsworld AC in 25:04.

John Dunne of Raheny Shamrock AC, another previous overall winner, was fifth and first M45 in 25:08. Taking the team title was Rathfarnham WSAF with Raheny Shamrock second. Among those fielding teams were Skerries AC, LSA AC, Frontrunners AC and Coolock RC.

For a third year, Raheny took the Pat Hooper Cup as best overall club. Can anyone beat them?

Photo: Lindie Naughton

Indoor season in action

Defending champions Dundrum South Dublin (women) and Clonliffe Harriers (men) made solid starts to their 2024 campaigns at the opening round of the National Indoor League at Abbotstown on Saturday.

In the overall standings, Clonliffe on 77 points is ahead of Ratoath AC 67 and Nenagh Olympic 61. Other Dublin clubs in action were Raheny Shamrock fifth, Lusk ninth and Donore Harriers tenth.

The DSD women with 95 points lead Leevale and Ratoath both on 87 points, with Carraig na bhFear AC fourth on 75.

Good performances in the middle distances came from Amy O’Donoghue who won the women’s 3000m for DSD AC, and from Juan Ignacio of Raheny Shamrock AC who won both the 800m and the 3000m. Winning the women’s 800m was 17-year-old Claire Crowley of Leevale AC in 2:15.54.

In the open races, U20 athlete Jonas Stafford of UCD AC was first across the line in the men’s 3000m in a personal best 8:04.95. Daniel Stone of Raheny Shamrock AC was second in 8:19.32 and Stephen Fay, also Raheny Shamrock ,third in 8:25.10.

Performance of the day

However the performance of the day came from Shane Healy of Metro St Brigid’s AC whose time of 8:47.71 for sixth place in the race was a world M55 record. Healy competed in the 1500m at the 1996 Olympic Games. The previous record was 8:58.

Harry Purcell of Trim AC won the open 800m in 1:50.17, with Paul Robinson of St Coca’s AC second in a personal best 1:50.45.

Athlone is the venue for the second round of the league next Saturday with the final on Saturday February 3 at Abbotstown.

Georgie Hartigan (Birchfield Harriers/ DSD AC) opened her indoor season at Sunday’s BMC Meet in Sheffield, where she finished second in the 500min 4:15.35.

In the men’s 3000m A race, Cathal Doyle (Clonliffe Harriers) was seventh in 8:02.28.

Siobhan Hoare and Breda Gaffney, first and second in the women’s race at the ESB cross-country.
Picture: John Waslhe

An earlier start to the action in Cork

The earlier start time of 10am – a new innovation for 2024 by the Cork BHAA – and the cold but crisp conditions didn’t deter over 180 turning out for the ESB 5km cross-country at Beaumont Park in the city writes John Walsh. 

The only cross-country race on the Cork BHAA calendar saw Barry Twohig (Emerald Fencing) repeat his victory of 12 months ago. He crossed the line in 17:54, just six seconds ahead of the fast-finishing Michael Harrington (Harrington Upvc) with Trevor Cummins (Train with Trevor) taking third spot, a further seven seconds in arrears.

Twohig, 45, thrives on tough and hilly conditions, having won the Bweeng Trail Run (IMRA) 10km on New Year’s Day. A former cyclist with the Blarney club, he competed at a high level from the age of 12 up to his mid-twenties, including winning the Junior Tour of Ireland the age of 17 in 1996.

The women’s race was equally competitive with victory going to F45 Siobhan Hoare (Bons Secours) in 21:22. Second was F50 Breda Gaffney (Avondhu MF) in 21:29 with yet another super-master – Carmel Crowley (Stockhealth) finishing third in 21:57.

Like the men’s winner, Hoare also has an interesting history. As Siobhan Walsh, she was a top-class juvenile with Grange-Fermoy over 30 years ago and then ran for UCD with whom she won the national junior cross-country title in 1995.