“I couldn’t leave that one go,” admitted senior boy’s winner Sean Tobin of his last chance at glory in Saturday’s Aviva All-Ireland Schools’ and Universities’ Cross Country Championships at University of Ulster, Jordanstown.
Finishing second last year in an exciting duel with CBC Monkstown’s Kevin Dooney, the High School Clonmel student was in no mood to finish his schools cross country career without victory.
“I went with my gut feeling,” said Tobin, who briefly trailed the front-running Hugh Armstrong (Gortner Abbey Crossmolina) by ten metres with two laps remaining of the 6,500m course.
“I went to move,” said the US scholarship bound Tobin. “I took it and went. I just tried to stay relaxed to the finish then.”
Tobin finished in 22:42 with the brave Armstrong second in 22:57. Kyle Larkin (Ardscoil Rís Limerick) getting the bronze in 23:03.
The prolific Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Colaiste Iosagain) cruised to victory in the senior girls 2,500m race in 10:27 making it five wins from five in All-Ireland schools’ cross country competition.
“This victory was one of the toughest because of the conditions,” said Cleirigh-Buttner, who also led her school to success.
Linda Conroy (Mercy Kilbeggan) was second in 10:40 with Sarah Ni Mhaolmhuire (Colaiste Iosagain) snatching bronze in 10:53. With one more year of school remaining for Cleirigh Buttner, she can make it six from six in 2014 — the athletics equivalent of 600 points for the Leaving Certificate.
Clodagh O’Reilly (Loreto Cavan) may not have been running barefoot — only those whose spikes got lost in the mud did — but her class in the Intermediate girls 3,500m race brought to mind a famous past pupil, Catherina McKiernan, and her barefoot victory in 1988 in Dungarvan. O’Reilly glided over the mud to win in 14:29. Isabel Carron (Skerries CC) took silver ahead of and Zoe Carruthers (Friends School).
The intermediate boys provided the finish of the day with Kevin Mulcaire (St Flannan’s Ennis) just edging Jack MacGabhann (St Mary’s College) over 4,500m with Liam MacGiolla Phadraig (Colaiste Eoin) in third.
A shivering Fearghal Curtin of Midleton CBS was happy with his junior boys triumph — a brief smile all he could muster in the cold conditions. Curtin won by 30 seconds ahead of Alan Monaghan (St Patrick’s Navan) in second and Oisin O’Gibne (Drogheda GS) in third.
Siofra O’Flaherty (St Leo’s Carlow) took the lead like her idol Fionnuala Britton to win the junior girls 2,500m in 10:31. Eimear Fitzpatrick (Our Lady’s Terenure) was second in 10:41 with early leader Fiona Everard (Maria Immaculata CC Dunmanway) taking bronze in 10:42.
The minor girl’s 2,000m event was the first race of the day with Caoimhe Harrington (Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai) coming out on top — Nicola Duffy (St Peter’s Dunboyne) and Laura Ward (Presentation SS Carlow) second and third respectively . Paddy Maher (Dunshauglin CC) won the minor boy’s race from Patrick McNiff (Banbridge Academy) and Peter Fegan (St. Colmans, Newry).
The Universities Cross Country Championships also took place in conjunction with the Schools and there were good wins for Jason Fahy (Waterford IT) in the 8,000m race and Fiona Roche (UCD) in the 4,000m decider.
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