Mulcaire’s (St Flannan’s Ennis) win over 6,500m made it four titles in a row, having won the intermediate title on the double in 2013 and 2014.
Wearing a white baseball cap back-to-front, the Clare schoolboy bided his time in the opening stages as he sounded out the field and got to grips with the biting cold and the terrain of a truly testing cross-country course.
At the halfway stage, he cranked up the pace for a dominant victory. Jack O’Leary (Clongowes) tried to match strides with Mulcaire but paid for his efforts as Peter Lynch (St Kieran’s) came through for a strong second, with James Edgar (Friends’ School) rounding out the top three. O’Leary faded to fifth.
Cathal Doyle led home St Aidan’s CBS in sixth to defend their team title which sparked jubilant celebrations.
Eimear Fitzpatrick (Our Ladies, Terenure) proved tactically astute in the senior girls’ 2,500m having enough strength to hold off Niamh Ni Chiardha (Colaiste Iosagain) and Niamh Corry (Malahide CS). Corry made much of the early running in a tightly bunched pack but Fitzpatrick had the legs in the end, with Loreto Mullingar packing well to take team gold.
The day celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the Irish Schools’ Athletics Association and former stars Sonia O’Sullivan and Catherina McKiernan were out cheering on the current generation.
Aimee McKenna (St Mac Dara’s) judged her race perfectly to win the minor 2,000m race ahead of Meghan Carr (Loreto Fermoy), daughter of Robert Heffernan in second and Lucy O’Keeffe (St Mary’s Midleton) third.
The opening races saw the early leaders pay for their youthful endeavours. The testing crosswind and climbs took a toll as Sean Donoghue (St Declan’s, Cabra) replicated McKenna to win the minor boys’ 2,500m. Ted Collins (Glenstal Abbey) got up for second with Ardscoil Rís’s Colin Sweeney taking bronze.
Saoirse O’Brien (SH Westport) and Louis O’Loughlin bucked the trend with dominant front-running performances in the junior races. O’Brien sped to victory in the junior girls’ 2,500m ahead of Rebecca Wallace (Wallace HS) in second and Roisin Treacy (St Gerard’s) in third.
Louis O’Loughlin (Moyle Park College) was outstanding in the junior boys’ 3,500m. Wearing his now customary black beanie decorated with skulls, O’Loughlin powered around the course as Chris O’Reilly (Douglas CC) tried to hang gamely with the Dubliner. O’Reilly’s brave effort caught up with him in the closing stages as Michael Troy (St Augustine’s Dungarvan) sprinted past him in the finishing straight for silver.
The intermediate 3,500m girls’ race lived up to its billing as training partners Sarah Healy (Holy Child Killiney) and Amy Rose Farrell (Mount Anville) fought out a close battle. Healy, as in the Leinsters, just had that extra bit of power up the hill at the finish to strike gold. Claire Rafter (Ursuline Thurles) picked up the scraps to pick up the bronze.
Darragh McElhinney’s (Colaiste Phobail Bheanntraí) bold attempt in the intermediate boys’ 5,000m backfired. The daring front-runner built up a big lead but ran out of steam finishing 9th with Adam Fitzpatrick (St Kieran’s) adding the national title to his Leinster crown. Colaiste Mhuire’s Jamie Battle and Ciaran Nolan came through strongly for second and third.
Michelle Finn won the women’s 5,000m Universities title leading UL to the team title. In the men’s 8,000m with David McCarthy’s victory proved fruitful for DCU.