GCH were well represented at the National Master & Intermediate Cross Country Championships at the delightful Avondale Forest Park grounds in Rathdrum, County Wicklow on Saturday last. A cool dry day with reasonable underfoot conditions greeted the athletes. While the long steep uphill section of the course forced a number of athletes to walk, the downhill section on the opposite side was not for the faint hearted! For some it was their first time competing over cross country terrain, others a first at National Championship Level and for the remainder it is their annual must do race with the added bonus of it being a terrific team competition, where hard fought place finishes deliver a high degree of satisfaction, achievement and enjoyment all at the same time, whether fit or unfit! The Master races have become extremely competitive in recent years and this year was no exception, with some terrific high-class races and performances all round.
The first of the adult races was the Master Women and over 65 Men’s combined race over 4k. Two full laps of the course (sounded easier than other xc courses where it was one small lap plus two big laps of a course!). In the 4k race GCH fielded a Master over 35 Women’s team, Master over 50 Women’s team and a Master men’s over 65 team! Kathryn Casserly was first GCH finisher in a magnificent 12th position overall, followed by Jane Ann Meehan in an impressive 16th, and with Deirdre Gibbons and Olive Gleeson finishing in terrific 35th and 43rd places overall respectively, the GCH Women’s over 35 Team claimed National Gold. Superb performance by the team who were brilliantly backed up by their equally impressive team mates – Sinead Foran, Niamh Hennelly, Jean O’Connor, Deirdre McCrae, Deirdre Moran Smyth. Kathryn Casserly was an impressive 4th in the Individual o40 category. The GCH Women’s over 50 team ran credibly and strongly to finish 4th over 50 Team with Carmel Brannigan leading the way followed by Barbara Bergin, Mary Kealy, Mags Sheridan and Majella Ni Chriocháin – all of whom will no doubt return for next season’s battle!
In the over 65 Men’s Team competition over the 4k, terrific running from the GCH Men’s Team of Martin Kearney, Martin McEvilly and Tony Fahy (recently returned to xc) ensured National bronze. Great to see Martin McEvilly back racing and claiming gold in the over 70 category! Martin Kearney finished 4th in the o65 category and has vowed to return in the future to claim a National xc medal!
The second adult race was the Master Men’s race (over 35 to 64) which was run over 7k. Again, an extremely competitive race over three and a half laps. GCH fielded an over 50 Men’s Team who raced credibly to finish 4th led in by Gerry Carty, Larry Kelly, Niall Murphy, Eamon Hornibrook, Sean Folan and Kieran Whyte – an enthuastic team already looking forward to next seasons cross country events! Unfortunately, GCH did not field an over 35 Men’s Team but we did have two individuals over 35 running as individuals in the 7k – Brian O’Connor and Brain Bruton who gave their all for the County!
The final race of the day was the Intermediate Men’s race over 8k (a tough 4 laps of the course). GCH fielded a Men’s Intermediate Team. This is a relatively ‘new’ club cross country Intermediate team who performed extremely well and strongly in this competitive race. The GCH team finished 7th overall, led in by David Bohan (21st), David Carter (25th) Conor Deane and Conor Byrne. Definitely a team to watch out for in the future!
Many athletes from various Galway clubs were represented in all the Master & Intermediate races. Apart from GCH, it was terrific to see representation from Castlegar AC, Craughwell AC, Tuam AC, Athenry AC, East Galway AC, Corrib AC and Clare River Harriers AC. Thanks to everyone involved in any way. Terrific competition, highly recommended. No experience or specific times required!!