Great runs and buns in Killbroney as Burren AC join the party
by Joe McCann
A record field of 134 junior athletes participated in the second of five races in the McGrady Financial Services sponsored Junior Cross Country Series. Burren AC organised this event, held in the quaint setting of Kilbroney Forest Park, Rostrevor and did a splendid job from start to finish. The overnight rain had subsided leaving the course damp on the surface but firm underfoot. The sun made its mandatory appearance to endorse the efforts of the athletes and their herculean endeavours.
Could the buns supersede the runs?
Much to the delight of the travelling athletes, coaches and parents the ovens in Burren had been flat out in producing a fine array of freshly baked delights. There were home baked buns and a plethora of other goodies served with tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Such was the quality that the grub was scoffed in record time and the racing itself was hard pressed to compete with the catering. Even Joe Quinn MBE of East Down (a club renowned for proffering a lavish spread at races) would have been left scratching his head incredulously had he witnessed the extent of South Down hospitality.
Primary kids show their class
After the customary warm-up to ensure that the athletes were race-ready, the P4 and under athletes were off, albeit a little later than scheduled due after the East Down minibus was held up in a traffic jam – obviously a flock of sheep were being transported from one field to another – thus leaving them a little late to arrive. However, despite this minor setback the remainder of the day ran like clockwork.
Debutant Jamie Williamson was the first winner of the day, closely followed by Lara McCarthy who recorded back to back wins. The 600m course was a little longer than Castlewellan and proved to be a good test for the youngest athletes on parade. In both races all of the athletes were separated by around 30 seconds, a tribute to the hard work and efforts of all the runners. The P5 athletes competed over an 800m course: Thomas McKeaveney repeated his success at Castlewellan, while Eva Sloan made it a double for the host club in her first outing of the series. Newcastlescored a double in the P6 races with Conor Murray and Eve Kenneally storming to victory, the later for the second time in the series. The Primary School races were rounded off with a win for East Down courtesy of Caoilin Quinn and one for Burren supplied by Naimh Scullion.
The post-primary races began with wins apiece for Burren and Newcastle by virtue of great runs by Jack O’Farrell and Sarah Dougherty, both of whom won last time out in Castlewellan. East Down enjoyed their best results of the day in the Year 9 event with Matthew Carrick and Laura Green showing considerable class in claiming their wins and overcoming fierce challenges from a talented field in both cases. Newcastle AC had no representation in Year 9, something that will disappoint their coaches. The final race of a highly successful afternoon saw the Year 10 and the Year 11+ run together over the challenging 3k course. There were wins in Year 10 for Pariac Delahunt (Burren) and Ellen Erskine (East Down), both having a bit to spare over their nearest rivals. The final victors of the day were Adian Doyle and Dearbhla Magee.
Plenty to look forward to in the weeks ahead
On reflection it was agreed that a great afternoon of competition had been enjoyed by all. The challenging courses will stand by the athletes when they return to the same venue for Northern Ireland & Ulster Even XC Championships on 27th October. Thanks again to Burren AC for their exceptional organisation of the event and the way in which they looked after everyone in attendance. The third race of the series will be at 1:30pm on Sunday 18th November at Castleward: East Down will be the host club and there will be an inspection of their buns, muffins and tray bakes at 1pm to make sure they are up to the quality delivered by Burren! All will be revealed in future reports.