herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Days of mud and thunder at the Nationals

Mick Clohisey
Mick Clohisey

Last weekend at Parliament Hill in London, a record 5,283 runners took part in the ten races that make up the English National Cross-Country Championships.

In the senior men's 12k, there were 2,005 finishers and among them was Martin McGann, originally from Kilmessan in Co Meath, who finished 1,872nd in his 46th year streak at the "Nationals". He had travelled to London with a large group of young runners from his club East Cheshire Harriers.

By contrast, next Sunday's Glo Health Irish "Nationals" will attract modest numbers. It is an event that is in serious trouble, but remains a huge day for many clubs.

force

One that will be out in force is Dundrum South Dublin, who field a special  25th anniversary team to commemorate a first-ever victory by the senior men at Plassey, Limerick in 1990.

Heading the team is Noel Berkeley, second that day behind defending champion Gerry Curtis after flying home specially from Oklahoma to run.

Backing him up then were Robin Bryson, Gerry McGrath and Aengus ó Cleirigh, all international mountain runners, as well as Enda Mannion and Gerry Dunne.

With the four scorers finishing in the top 23, DSD scored a notable victory over DCH led by Roy Dooney. Winning the women's race was Catherina McKiernan who beat Roisín Smyth into second place. Roisin's daughters Sarah and Eimear Fitzpatrick line out for the DSD junior women's team on Sunday.

Training has been going well for the DSD stalwarts, all now in the 50-something age group. Also in training is Peter Matthews, the club's first individual winner in 1994.

Last year, DSD won all four teams titles at the National Interclubs, with a one point victory over Clonliffe in the senior men's race the sweetest. Since the year 2000, Clonliffe have won the title ten times compared to five for DSD.

No other club has come close.

At the sharp end of the individual race, Mick Clohisey of Raheny is the defending men's champion and was a close third behind Annadale's Paul Pollock and Leevale's Mark Hanrahan at the Intercounties.

In the junior races, Kevin Mulcaire of Ennis and Hope Saunders from Clonliffe are the form athletes.

senior

Then there are the senior women, where Maria McCambridge leads the DSD team after finishing 11th at the European Clubs Cross-Country earlier this month and winning the 3000m indoors at the weekend.

A lot depends on who turns up. Michelle Finn of Leevale was an impressive second at the intercounties behind Fionnuala Britton, followed by Riocht's Laura Crowe.

It could be a Munster win.

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