Cullen needs no key to unlock Tullamore course

Not even a missing spike key could deter Mary Cullen from dominating the Woodie’s DIY Inter Club Cross Country Championships in Charleville Estate in Tullamore yesterday.

“I must have texted half the country,” smiled Cullen (North Sligo) before the race as she was looking for a key to tighten the spikes on her shoes last night. She needn’t have worried in bright conditions and a reasonably firm course as she went to the lead from the gun and was a resounding winner of the 8,000m distance from DSD’s Linda Byrne and North Belfast Harriers’ Breege Connolly.

“It was good to get out there and get the feel for cross country,” said Cullen who hasn’t run a cross country race for close to three years.

“I was going to maybe run a 3k last night in Athlone but I just figured I may as well get the feel for the terrain again before I get out to Poland for world cross.”

Now Cullen is turning her focus to Ireland’s bid for a medal at the World Cross County Championships in Poland next month.

“I do think there is a team medal there,” said the Sligo athlete. “America were third the last two times. They’ll be there or thereabouts going for a team medal, so why can’t we?”

Raheny Shamrock had an historic team victory having not won since 1971. Their scorers were Elish Kelly, Fiona Roche, Maria O’Sullivan and Aoife Talty. Moldovan Sergiu Ciobanu led Clonliffe Harriers to glory in the men’s 12,000m race. Joe McAlister (St Malachy’s) was second with Eoin Flynn (Rathfarnham WSAF) third. In the junior races Sarah Fitzpatrick (DSD) and Sean Tobin (Clonmel) were impressive winners.

Meanwhile, the English Athletics Indoor championships (previously known as the 3As), produced some excellent performances by Irish athletes over the weekend.

Sarah Lavin from Emerald in Limerick won two silver medals in the junior age group, the 60m in 7.57 and the 60m hurdles in 8.39, which was just outside her Irish record that she took from Derval O’Rourke recently.

Sam Healy from Belgooly was third in the junior long jump with a leap of 6.51m and second in the high jump with a clearance of 1.94m.

The highly promising Molly Scott from the St. Laurence O’Toole club in Carlow won two U15 gold medals, the 60m hurdles in a time of 9.04, and the 60m in an excellent 7.79.

David McDonald from Menapians in Wexford won the U15long jump with a jump of 6.16m. In the US, David Rooney (Raheny Shamrocks) recorded a Conference double, winning the 5,000m in 14:48.62 and the 3,000m in 8:23.77. Shane Quinn from Ferrybank in Waterford won the New England 3,000m in 8:11.47, while Brendan O’Neill (Dundrum South Dublin AC) was second in the ACC championship 5,000m in a time of 14:10.96.

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