Devane makes it muddy dash
Donal Devane of Ennis TC won a cracking men's title at the National Novice and Juvenile Uneven Age Cross Country Championships held in Dunboyne's aptly-named Cow Park.
As the final race of 12 on one of the busiest days on the Irish athletics calendar, the ground was well churned up by the time over 200 lined out for the men's 6000m race.
After a fast start, with a brave Finn Valley athlete pushing the pace, a group of five had taken over at the head of the race.
Included in the group, along with Devane were Thomas Lupton of Portlaoise AC, Gerry Forde of Slaney Olympic AC, Conor O'Mahoney of An Riocht AC and Joseph Hastings of Dundrum South Dublin.
Only in the final 800m did Devane pull away, bringing Lupton with him. After turning the corner into the finish straight, he sprinted away for victory in 21 mins 2 secs with Lupton finishing three seconds adrift. Third was Forde, with O'Mahoney fourth and Hastings fifth.
A total of 26 teams completed the race with Leevale AC the winners on count back from Ennis TC, both finishing on 70 points. Leevale, led by Heyward Richardson in 13th place, had packed well with their four counting finishing all home in the top 21. Ennis's last counter came home in 36th place. Finishing a distant third was Sligo AC.
Best of the Dublin teams was Crusaders AC in seventh place with Donore Harriers, Rathfarnham WSAF and Brothers Pearse right behind them. It means that Dublin finished best of the county teams ahead of Cork and Galway.
In the women's 4000m, there was a clear win for Cliona Murphy from a new-look Dublin City Harriers squad which had four in the top ten at one point in the race.
Murphy led from the off with the field spread out in the latter stages of the race. Hilary Hughes, who is between clubs, finished second and Caron Ryan of Craughwell AC third. DCH, with Susan McManus sixth, Edel Monaghan 18th and Aoife Ní Bhroin 44th making up the team, finished best of the 20 teams entered.
Sligo AC finished second and host club Dunboyne AC, led by Laura Buckley in eighth place, third. Dublin, with four athletes in the top 18, were clear winners of the county title, beating Cork and Donegal.
At U19 level, Michael Morgan of Sligo AC was an impressive winner of the boys' 4000m race, dominating from early on. Conall McClean of St Malachy's AC finished second despite a big effort by Daniel Stone of Raheny Shamrock to catch him in the closing stages of the race.
Clonliffe Harriers - even without defending champion Efrem Gidey who has moved on the bigger things - finished first team ahead of Kilkenny City Harriers.
In a Munster-dominated girls' U19 race, Niamh O'Mahoney of An Riocht AC was the winner ahead of Una O'Brien from Waterford AC and Lucy O'Keeffe of Youghal AC.
St Senan's AC was first club of the seven teams entered, with Waterford AC second and Finn Valley third.
Winners of the U17 races were Scott Fagan of Metro St Brigid's AC in Blanchardstown and Emma Landers of Youghal AC.