The long winter runs on the Greenway, and hill reps in the howling wind and rain paid dividends for Westport’s athletes and coaches alike as they headed into a stormy December’s Sunday National Cross Country Championship in Waterford, recently. The course represented a real cross country challenge as it undulated between flat and hill with the ground being soft to firm under foot.

Westport’s first competitor of the day was Roisin O’Brien, running out of age, in the U11 girls 1500m putting in a fine performance for her first ever All-Ireland Cross Country race.  Next up were the U11 Boys, whose 1500m race had one of the biggest fields of the day with over 158 runners.  Malcolm McEvilly, with an unbelievable performance, comfortably won Westport ACs first ever individual All-Ireland Cross Country title.  His teammate Shane O’Malley came home in 16th position followed by Conal Dawson (running out of age), Ted Horan, Sean Heaney (also out of age) and Richard O’Donnell. Overall the boys performance placed Mayo 2nd County overall, Connaught 3rd and the Westport team finishing 4th just outside the medals. Outstanding performance from all the boys and a fantastic start to their athletics careers.

The U13 girls 2500m was next and Saoirse O’Brien stole the show, winning the bronze medal while running out of age, leading to both Mayo and Connaught coming second. Anna O’Riain also ran a fine race in her first ever All-Ireland Cross Country competition.  Next the U13 boys saw Westport AC win its third team club medal this year, with this strong team coming 3rd with 156 points, just 8 points behind the silver medal winners.  Luke Dawson led the team home coming 5th, followed by Cillian Heaney(15th), Rossa McAllister, Sean Doherty and Ronan O’Donnell, all running their hearts out.  Cillian, Rossa and Ronan all ran out of age, making this a terrific performance for this young team who also contributed to both Mayo and Connaught silver medals.

The U15 3500m races had some great performances from Aoife O’Brien, 15th in the girls, to Aaron Doherty, Cian McAllister, Eoghan McLoughlin, Alex O’Riain, Andrew Currid and Ben Walsh in the boys race.  Sorcha McAllister, out of age, also ran well, despite a bad cold, in the U17 girls 4000m.

Westport’s last, but by no means least, competitor of the day was Con Doherty in the U19 boys 6000m.  Con, after running for Ireland in Belgrade just a week earlier, ran a stunning race, storming home, well over 100m ahead of this nearest rival and winning his first National Title in a Cross Country Championship.  While Westport AC waited many years for an individual National Title in Cross Country, they now came home with two in one day!  In an incredibly successful Cross Country season, which saw two gold individual medals, one third place medal, five other top twelve individual medals, three team medals, many county and provincial medals, together with Con Doherty representing Ireland in the European Cross Country Championships, the club grows from strength to strength, and is now one of the top Cross Country Clubs in the country.Click HERE for Photos