The GloHealth All Ireland Schools’ Cross Country Championships take place this Saturday, 7th of March in Clongowes Wood College, Kildare.
The campaign to qualify for the prestigious GloHealth All Ireland Finals started out back in January with 12,000 schools athletes participating in the various zone races. Over 3,500 athletes then moved to the regional competitions (Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Connacht) to secure a place at the GloHealth All-Ireland Schools Cross Country Championships in Clongowes on Saturday.
The championships on Saturday will witness close to a 1,000 of Ireland’s up and coming athletic talent battle it out for individual and team titles in the minor, junior, intermediate and senior categories. International cross country runners Kevin Mulcaire (St. Flannans Ennis), Jack O’Leary (Clongowes Wood College) and Hope Saunders (Mt Temple) are just three athletes to watch out for over the eight event programme.
All the action will be streamed live via the Athletics Ireland Youtube Channel beginning with the minor girl’s race at 12 noon and concluding with the senior boy’s race at 2.40pm.
The final event of the programme is the senior boy’s race and it promises to be an exciting battle between Kevin Mulcaire (St Flannans Ennis) and Jack O’Leary who attends school at the host venue Clongowes Wood College. Mulcaire has dominated cross country running at junior level lately with recent victories at the Munster Schools (12th February) and GloHealth Inter Club Cross Country Championships (1st March). Mulcaire will start as the favourite to win the title however O’Leary will no doubt be inspired by the home support and will do his upmost to challenge for the title.
Hope Saunders (Mt Temple) is another of those who has been in formidable form lately with a commanding win in the junior race at the Inter Clubs on Sunday. Saunders ran out an easy winner of the Leinster schools’ title in February will battle it out against Rhona Pierce (St Angelas Cork), Clodagh O’Reilly (Loreto College Cavan) and Sorcha McAllister (Santa Maria Louisburgh) who won their respective regional titles.
The intermediate and junior races have the added spice of acting as the trial for the SIAB Schools International to be held in Santry Demesne on the 21st of March. The top eight across the line (DOB dependent) will earn themselves a place on the Irish team for the international fixture.
Caoimhe Harrington (Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai) has great memories from the schools international as she took victory last year in the junior race. Harrington steps up in age this year to the intermediate category and will confident of another strong showing after dominating the Munster championships. Another athlete to watch out for in the intermediate race is Emma O’Brien (Dominican College, Wicklow) after her fine victory in the Leinster championships.
Aaron Doherty (Rice College Westport) was an impressive winner of the Connacht title and along with Ferghal Curtin (Midleton CBS), Alan Monaghan (St. Pats Navan) and James Edgar (Friends’ School Lisburn) are all likely to go well on Saturday.
Sara Healy (Holy Child Killiney) is the standout name in the junior girl’s race with Adam Fitzpatrick (St Kierans Kilkenny), Jack Moran (Colaiste Mhuire), Cian May (Salesian College) and Darragh McElhinney (Colaiste Pobail Bheanntrai) all expected to go well in the junior boy’s event.
The minor races will get the day off to an exciting start with the minor girl’s due off at 12 noon and the boy’s next into the starting pens at 12.15pm.