Leinster Senior Champion
Major congratulations are due to Jack O’Leary (Poetry), who won the Leinster Senior Cross Country title in Santry last Wednesday (11th February). In a pacy and tactical race, he showed great maturity and tenacity to beat a high-class field.
News of Jack’s success will come as no surprise to those of us who have been following his career over the last few years and comes hot on the heels (as it were) of his European successes last December. Here’s how Matthew Rattigan, former athlete and budding journalist saw events unfold last week…
Our athletics stars made their way to Cistercian College, Roscrea on the Ides of February for the South Leinster Cross Country Championships. The four teams, consisting of Minor, Junior, Intermediate and Senior boys were guided by coach Mr Shane Heslin.
The team’s arrival coincided with the snowy clouds that appeared as the action began around 12.00, with Minor boys stepping up first. With fresh grass and a light sprinkling of snow they were set for a good day at the office, but bitterly cold weather and a tough gradient seemed to take their toll on tight leg muscles and they fell just short of qualification, despite good runs from the likes of Adam Reynolds and Taylor Bergin.
Next to face the music were the Junior boys. A brilliant run from a consistent performer, Stephen McAleese, who finished a well-deserved 31st out of the top 130 junior runners in the province, was rewarded by a place in qualification despite the efforts of a persistent dose of snow.
As the Inter boys readied themselves, they took a wary look at the ruinous landscape they were now in due to previous runners, who had ploughed up the track. Douglas Oman managed to win the battle twixt the weather, as well as the other Clongowes competitors. Just missing out on this privilege was Dan Reilly who fought relentlessly but failed to find a way through.
Last to run were our Senior boys. They felt as though they would be better off just running in a bog out in Banagher, with a sea of mud replacing the lush green grass they had laid their eyes upon earlier that day. As their race kicked off, so did the snow. They tried to fend off the blizzard-like weather over the course of their race. As time elapsed it became quite clear that Jack O’Leary was going to ‘run away’ with 1st place. Mark O’Connor also threatened to sneak into a qualification spot, but it wasn’t to be.
Jack’s next big race is here in Clongowes at the All Ireland Cross Country Finals on March 7th.