Athletics: Fearghal Curtin times it perfectly to win Munster Schools Cross-Country Championships

A brilliantly executed race saw Fearghal Curtin win his first senior title at the Irish Life Health Munster Schools Cross-Country Championships which took place for the second year at Tramore Valley Park.

Fearghal Curtin. Pic: Sportsfile

Last year, at the corresponding championships, Charlie O’Donovan caused a surprise when defeating favourite Darragh McElhinney in the intermediate race and another upset looked on the cards as the Coláiste Chríost Rí athlete had opened up a 10 second margin on Curtin after the initial two small laps.

Going out on the fourth lap that made up the 5000m distance, Curtin was slowly gaining on O’Donovan as the early hectic pace was taking its toll. On the back end of the rolling course, the Midleton CBS pupil made his move and finished with plenty in hand, the margin of victory growing to 20 seconds at the line.

“The plan was to run my own race but I wasn’t expecting Charlie to get that much of a lead,” admitted Curtin. “I just kept to my own pace and passed him on the start of the last lap so I’m delighted to win.”

McElhinney, of Coláiste Pobail, Bheanntraí, made up for last year’s disappointment when easily taking the intermediate title to add to his growing list of achievements. Since winning the South Munster Schools at the same venue three weeks ago, the Bantry athlete made the headlines when breaking John Treacy’s Irish youth’s record for the 3000m (which had stood since 1974) with his 8:18.88 at Abbotstown and here he just did enough to win.

Jake McCarthy of Pobailscoil na Tríonoide, Youghal, the East Munster champion, wasn’t in the least bit intimidated as he stayed with the winner until the final lap to take second ahead of Chris O’Reilly of Douglas Community School.

Another to impress in adding the Munster crown to the South Munster title was Stephanie Cotter in the senior girl’s race.

After a slow opening lap, Cotter and Avril Deegan (Presentation, Thurles) opened a gap and but on the hilly section Cotter powered away to win by around 40 metres. “It was fine, I made up ground on the hill and although it was a tough course I loved it,” said the Coachford College athlete.

Despite a fall at the start, Laura Hayes of Loreto, Fermoy, worked her way back to the leading group in the intermediate race and although defending champion Tamzin Muldowney (St Mary’s, Midleton) put up a good defence of her title she had no answer to Hayes on the hill as she forged ahead to win by just three seconds.

“I fell at the very start but I eventually got back to the group, the pace was slow and no-one was taking it out so I moved away on the hill,” said the winner.

Paul Hartnett of Coláiste an Chraoibhin was another Fermoy winner, his long strides powering him to victory in the junior boy’s race. Taking the lead going out on the second lap, Hartnett finished with almost 100 metres in hand over Matteo Mary of St Declan’s, Kilmacthomas.

A member of the Midleton Athletic Club, Hartnett was maintaining a long tradition in athletics as his father John was national senior pole vault champion back in 1980 while his late grandfather Paddy served as BLE Cork County Board chairman in the 1970s.

Apart from CBC in the intermediate boy’s race, the remainder of the team awards went outside Cork, with St Flannan’s College taking two titles in the junior and senior grades.

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