The Schools Cross Country year staged its final examinations up North in Mallusk, Belfast with Raheny interest centring on the boys and girls minor and the boys senior event.
The qualification method in schools athletics is Olympian in design. The regional championships represent the 1st round heats, the provincials are semi-final with their demands and for those who manage to get through the first two rounds then the All-Ireland’s are what the training has been all about.
Qualifying to be there in the first place is a significant achievement and honour.
The minor girls of Holy Faith, accompanied on the day by coaches Tom O’Sullivan and Elaine McNulty, were putting on a brave face but there was no doubt that covid picked a terrible time to ravage their camp and their task was always going to be difficult.
Sophie Kelly ran a fine race to lead the girl’s home and a 10th place team finish.
George Sevastopulo (Mount Temple), having proven his worth by winning both the North Leinster and Leinster Minor Boys events was superb when finishing a magnificent fifth, a mere four seconds off the Silver medal.
Tom Monaghan (Sutton Park) did not run quite as well as in the qualifying rounds but will benefit hugely from the experience of his first national championship.
Congratulations to the St Paul’s team of Conrad Latham, Odhran Fidgeon, Donagh Kirwan, Darragh O’Connor, Bryan Coakley, Rokas Cagney, Sean Reville and Eoin Clinton who after attacking the race with dogged determination secured a well-deserved bronze.
Congrats to our amazing minor team. 3rd place at the All Ireland Schools Cross Country Championships today in Belfast. Brilliant result lads. Well done to coaches, our own Mr Gahan & Mr Dick Hooper. Massive achievement @StPaulsCollegeP @RahenyShamrock @school @irishathletics pic.twitter.com/5Xhkgvc302
— stpaulscollege (@stpaulscollege4) March 12, 2022
So to the senior race where Raheny had big interest in both the Ard Scoil Ris and Belvedere teams.
Ard Scoil were highly fancied but were hit a hammer blow with the sad passing of Willie Spring, grandfather of Shane.
His funeral in Tralee on the same day of the race, rendered Shane a nonstarter and whatever chance Ard Scoil had of challenging a crack St Flannans Ennis was gone.
That Ard Scoil Ris managed to grittily carve their way to a Bronze medal was due in no small way to the bravery of our own Adam Condon and Marcus O’Sullivan alongside their Clonliffe schoolmates Niall Carberry, Lorcan Benjacar and Ronan Donohoe.
A very proud teacher and Raheny runner Brian Connor was there to greet them.
The Belvedere team, defending champions from 2020 were 7th on this occasion Led home by Conall Rogers with Chris Hamill their third scorer.