Westport AC Boys U13 team and Boys U15 team both won Gold Team medals at the GloHealth National Novice and Juvenile Uneven Age Cross Country Championships held in Santry on December 7th.  Overall, Westport secured three team medals and four individual medals, together with numerous county medals and one provincial on the day.

Exciting sprint finishes and thrilling races was the order of the day at the event brought together over 2,000 club athletes battling it out for the various individual and team prizes.  Athletes from as young as under eleven all the way up to the novice men and women provided exciting competition for the packed crown in Santry Demesne. Each race had a field ranging from 116 – 174 runners.

The first race of the day was the U11 girls 1500m where Roisin O’Brien led the team home in style, followed very closely by Laura Moran, both contributing to a bronze medal for the Connaught team.  Next home for Westport was Niamh Reilly, Fionnuala  McLaughlin,  Leila O’Malley(out of age), Katie O’Grady, Sophie Scahill and Aoife Staunton, all running their hearts out and winning a silver medal for the team with 130 points, a full 53 points ahead of third place.  This is a fantastic achievement for these girls in what was, for most of them, their first All-Ireland race. Their fine performances also resulted in a silver medal for the county.

The next race was the U11 boys 1500m, where Niall McLoughlin, a new member of the club, led the Westport team home. Niall was followed by great runs from Sean Heaney, Conal Dawson, Finbar McLaughlin, Colin Hastings and Joe Sweet who all contributed to the Mayo team winning the silver medal.  This team were just 7 points shy of a bronze medal for the club, but are definitely ones to watch in the future.

Next were the U13 girls 2500m, where Saoirse O’Brien had a marvellous run, winning a fourth place individual medal, to add to the bronze she won in the U14 race two weeks ago.  This is some accomplishment to win a medal both in and out of age. Saoirse was followed by her teammates Annie Noonan, Kitty Harburn, Eimhear Corduff and Ella Staunton who all contributed to Mayo coming in 4th place, just 13 points short of the bronze county medal.

The U13 boys 2500m race followed, where Cillian Heaney ran a stormer of a race, also winning a fourth place individual medal.  Cillian led this fantastic team of Malcolm McEvilly, Rossa McAllister, Ronan O’Donnell, Oisin Ryall, Ethan Llyod, Shane O’Malley (out of age), Joe Grady, Tommy Scahill, John Grady and Cian Moore.  The ‘A’ team came away with team gold with a total of 95 points, a full 41 points ahead of their nearest competitors.  They all contributed to Mayo also taking the county bronze medal.

Ellen Noonan and Anna O’Riain were next to compete in the U15 girls 3500m, where they both ran fine races, but unfortunately Westport did not have enough for a team in this age group.

This was followed by the U15 boys 3500m, where Aaron Doherty pulled out all the stops, coming second out of a field of 125 runners and leading his team home to another club gold for Westport.  Great runs from Cian McAllister, Sean O’Hanlon, Shane Ryall, Luke Dawson (out of age) and Patrick Chambers, all together taking their 5th National team medal in as many years.

Next race was the U17 girls 4000m where Sorcha McAllister came flying home in 12th place to win her first, and so well deserved, All Ireland Cross Country medal.  Aoife O’Brien also ran well (out of age) and came home just behind Sorcha, the second Connaught competitor home.  Our final athlete of the day was Shane Gavin, in the U17 boys 4500m, who had another fine race and was the fourth Connaught athlete home on the day.

To summarise, across the two All-Ireland Cross Country Championships, Westport AC had by far its most successful year to date, winning a total of nine individual medals, including two golds, one silver and one bronze.  U13, U14 and U15 boys all won team gold, silver U11 girls and bronze U12 boys. Westport athletes also contributed to three Mayo silver and two Mayo bronze medals and one Connaught medal.  This leaves Westport AC as one of the top Cross Country Clubs in the country.