Braving Storm Desmond and struggling with wet, sticky post-deluge conditions underfoot didn’t knock a spark out of the large group of Westport athletes who competed on December 6th at the Glo-Health Uneven Ages National Cross Country Championships in Dungarvan, Co Waterford.

The athletes, from under 11 to 17 put in gritty performances to come away with a team gold medal for the under 13 boys and team bronze medals for the under 15 and 17 boys.

Put together with the three gold team medals the Westport athletes won in the Even Ages National Championships two weeks prior in Santry, Dublin, Westport Athletics Club finished second overall in the national cross country team medal table, competing shoulder to shoulder with established clubs from much larger urban and town locations.

These team performances were spearheaded by strong top-12 finishing individual performances in Dungarvan from many athletes including Roisin O’Brien, who finished 6th in the under 13 girls race, running out of age; Malcolm MacEvilly and Shane O’Malley, who finished 3rd and 4th respectively in the boys under 13 race, and Saoirse O’Brien, who finished a fantastic second in the under 15 girls race, running out of age.  Aaron Doherty, running out of age in the boys under 17 race, showed a great return to form after a period of injury, finishing 13th, just one place from an individual placing medal.

The Dungarvan event was also the first outing for the promising under 11 girls team of Leila O’Malley, Claire Conway, Molly Williams, Sarah Mulroy, Zoe O’Grady and Olivia Costello, who all ran very well in the toughest of debut conditions. 

They are following fast on the heels of the under 13 girls team, led home by Roisin O’Brien, followed by Laura Moran, Katie O’Grady, Kate Grady, Niamh Reilly and Sophie Scahill.  The majority of these girls were running out of age so their 8th team placing was a credible result.

The gold-winning under-13 boys team was fronted by the impressive 3rd and 4th place finishing Malcolm MacEvilly and Shane O’Malley.  They were followed by Conal Dawson who finished 21st running out of age, Con McNamara who had a great run to finish 38th, followed closely by James Marrey (out of age) and Harrison Quinn.

The under 15 boys team overcame a desperate start which saw them battling to make up lost ground. Despite this, and missing a vital team-mate because of illness, they ran strongly to take the bronze.  Luke Dawson, finishing 21st, showed the way home, followed by Rossa McAllister (33rd running out of age), Thomas Devaney (36th), Oisin Ryall (58th out of age) and Tim Campion.

Next up were the under 17s, led out first by Aoife O’Brien in the girls race who ran courageously as the sole Westport contestant to finish in the top 20 out of a field of nearly 100.  Aoife had finished a fantastic 9th two week previously running out of age in the under 18 race.  

She was followed onto the, at this stage quagmire-like starting line, by the boys’ team, which was down to the bare four men needed to score in the team event.  This meant that everybody had to finish and everybody had to run well.  Again, with two of the team members running out of age, they pulled it out of the bag to get onto the medal podium with a justified third place performance.  The “old men” of the club were led home by Aaron Doherty (13th), followed by Ben Walsh (35th), Cian McAllister (38th) and Alex O’Riain (64th).