West Waterford Athletic Club Juvenile Notes
Cross Country Season Ends on a High Note with more success at All Ireland Championships
The final events of 2019 the Irish Life Health under 11, 13, 15, 17&19 cross country championships were held in Dunboyne on Sunday last and it was another good day for West Waterford AC’s juvenile athletes with four athletes winning individual medals, four athletes scoring on medal winning Munster teams and one scoring on a gold medal winning Waterford team. But it was not only about medals some of our athletes were competing in their first All Ireland championships and others showed a big improvement on their performances of last year.
Weather conditions in Dunboyne were not as difficult as were predicted and although the day was cold it stayed dry. The course was challenging for the athletes as the ground was very sticky and energy sapping especially in the longer races.
There were big fields in all the races and a large number of spectators at the event but it was very well organised by Dunboyne AC.
First All Ireland Medal for Isabelle Gaffney
First in action were the girls under 11 and West Waterford had two athletes competing on the Munster team Isabelle Gaffney and Kyla Flavin. Both were competing in their first All Ireland Cross Country Championships. Although Isabelle was running at her first All Ireland she has been supporting her older siblings over the last few years so was well used to the hype of All Ireland day. She got out well at the start of the race a big improvement on her Munster start and was in the top twenty initially. On the long run in the back field she made her way into the top ten and finished strongly to take 7th place and win her first individual medal. Isabelle was also a scoring member of a very strong Munster team that took gold in the inter provincial contest.
For Kyla it was her first time at an All Ireland Championship and she was a bit overawed by the crowds and the busyness of the start. She did not get as good a start as she did in the Munster Championships but she put in a very strong final 500m to finish 29th. The experience of Sunday will stand her in good stead for next year.
First All Ireland Medal for Eoin Prendergast
Eoin Prendergast kept the flag flying for West Waterford with a gutsy performance in the boys under 11 race. Eoin benefitted from competing in this event last year and the under 12 All Ireland in November and her ran strongly thought the race always in the top twelve and came with a sprint up the finishing straight to take 10th place a big improvement on his 48th place last year. Eoin was a scoring member of the Munster team that finished second in the inter provincial contest.
First All Ireland Individual Medal for David Gaffney
David Gaffney was competing in his 6th All Ireland on Sunday and things finally came together on the day for him. Last year he was ill before the under 12 championships and finished 32nd and in the under 14 he finished 13th just one place outside an individual medal. On Sunday he was up in a medal winning position for all of the 2500m and even as he sprinted up the finishing straight he overtook one more athlete to finish in 8th place. David was the second Munster athlete home and scored on the Munster team that finished 2nd in the inter provincial competition.
WWAC had two athletes competing in the under 13 girls race. Sarah Gaffney was running a year out of age and ran strongly in the centre of the pack to finish 65th which was a big improvement on her 127th place last year. Catherine O’Donnell was competing at this level for the first time and found the pace at the start very fast but she rallied in the latter part of the race to finish 132nd she was the eight Waterford girl home an improvement on her 10th place in the Munster.
It was touch and go whether Sarah Nyhan would make it to the start line as she was ill during the week but as this was the first year Sarah had qualified to compete out of her age group she wasn’t going to let a bug stop her and battled strongly throughout the race to finish a gutsy 32nd.
Gold for Lucy Holmes with Munster and Waterford
In the last girls race of the day Lucy Holmes finished in 4th place in a very fast paced race. The race was taken out at the start by Una O’Brien with Lucy following in 2nd but the draining underfoot conditions took their toll in the third lap with Kerry’s Niamh O’Mahony coming through for the win and Lucy Finishing 4th. Munster had a very strong team in this race with six in the top twelve and they easily won the interprovincial contest. Waterford also had a strong team and won the inter county contest the only medals won by the county on the day.
In the boys under 17 race Oisin O’Riordan was back in action after his recent injury and ran strongly to finish 42nd while Mark Blackwell continues to make progress with each race this year and he finished 76th a huge improvement from his 146th place last year. Both Oisin and mark scored on the Waterford team that finished in 7th place.
Final Juvenile Race for Cian O’Riordan
Cian O’Riordan was competing in the boys under 19 race his final race as a juvenile. Cian was determined to give it everything he had. He went off with the leading group and was well positioned in the first lap when he fell in the very heavy mud. Despite being covered in mud he continued for the next 500om and recovered from his fall to finish 16th which was two places better than last year. Cian was the first Waterford athlete home in the race.
A tired and hungry group of athletes, coaches and parents stopped off at the Newpark Hotel Kilkennyfor a well earned meal after which the athletes were presented with their medals
Well done to all our athletes who competed with great enthusiasm and success at county Munster and All Ireland championships all your hard work over the past few months has paid off. Well done to our coaches for all their continued mentoring our young athletes and to our loyal parents for their continued support. Enjoy a well earned break over Christmas and we will see you all back in action in Colligan on Sunday Jan 19th.