Wednesday’s Storm Dudley vented its anger on proceedings at the Leinster Schools Cross Country Championships in Santry Demesne.
The wind howled, the rain lashed, the ground softened, questioning the resolve and desire of athletes, officials and spectators alike.
In truth it was a real cross country day for the purists and none relished the challenge of it more than Raheny’s George Sevastopulo.
Running the most astute of races in the minor boy’s event, tucking in at the spots where the wind was at its most vicious but always up with the leaders. Sevastopulo struck for home with 400m to go, dictated matters from there and then took five seconds out of the second place runner over the final 100m.
For his school Mount Temple, the Alma Mater of Bono and U2 it truly made for a beautiful day.
Indeed the minor boys event proved a very lucrative one for the Raheny contingent. Tom Monaghan (13th) of Sutton Park and Arlen Szep Szabo (14th) of Malahide CS ran strongly to get themselves into the all-important automatic qualifying spots for the All Ireland Schools on 12th March in Belfast.
To satisfy this requirement Athletes must finish in the Top 15 in their provincial championship or be a member of the first three schools in the team competition.
There was joy here too for a St Paul’s team, laden with Raheny connections who took the team bronze medals and with it the automatic qualification.
The final event of the day, the senior boys also provided plenty interest and joy for Raheny. Adam Condon in third place and Shane Spring were magnificent in leading their Ard Scoil Ris team to silver medals, they were joined by Marcus O’Sullivan.
A Belvedere team backboned by Conall Rogers and Chris Hamill also qualified taking bronze.
No joy here for Damhan Mulligan’s St Pauls team weakened by injuries and sickness.
Holy Faith Clontarf has a long tradition of successful involvement in these championships and after a lean period of late, their minor girls showed an eagerness to revive old glories. Taking a magnificent bronze medal they outperformed expectations, assisted in no small measure by the efforts of Clara Woods and Sophie Kelly and driven by a triumvirate of Raheny coaches.
For other Raheny Zone Qualifiers, Esther Ntoko (Sutton Park) in the minor girls and Rachel Costello (Manor House) junior girls their efforts to make Belfast ended but not without valiant and brave performances that augur well for the future.
And so to Mallusk, Belfast for the final examination of the Schools Cross Country year on March 12th.