Aisling Joyce of NUI Galway was the standout Galway performer at the National Cross Country Championships in Dublin on Sunday.
Her fourth place finish in the junior ladies' race secured her an Irish Junior team place in the upcoming European Cross Country Championships to be held on December 11 in Chia, Italy. The talented Claremorris native, now in NUIG, has made great strides over the last year under coach Matt Lockett.
Galway mens and ladies' senior teams made a brave attempt to retain their National Cross Country team titles in the two senior championship races on Sunday, but ultimately fell short. In the face of stiff competition, Galway men’s squad were sixth home, led home by Andrew O Donnghaile of GCH in 59th place, who came in just ahead of Brian Furey of Rathfarnham and GCH’s John Moroney. The next three home and team scorers were Vincent McGuinness of Crusaders AC, followed by GCH athletes Alan Kelly and the ever-improving Timmy Jones. There were good runs also from Castlegar AC’s Rob Lennon, Tuam’s Sean Burke, as well as GCH’s Brian O'Connor, in what was a hugely competitive field which included many Irish internationals.
The ladies' team also placed sixth, with Laura Shaughnessy of DSD leading the squad home in a superb ninth place. Always in the lead group, it was only in the last lap Shaughnessy dropped back, but she will surely feature at the top end of Irish athletics in future years. Niamh Hennelly of GCH and Irene Gorman of Crusaders both placed well in a high-quality field, and Ann Marie Hynes of Tuam rounded off the team effort to ensure a solid team placing for the women.
Jamie Fallon of Craughwell AC just missed an Irish berth in the junior men’s race, placing a superb seventh. In the juvenile events, GCH U18 Boys squad were seventh, with Eanna Folan, Gary Martyn, Thomas McStay and Michael Healy all running well. Ben Ryan of Craughwell AC produced a great run to take 16th place in the U16 race, with Craughwell 12th team. GCH U12 girls were 10th team home, while the U14 girls were 13th.
South Galway AC's annual Ballindereen 10k was held Sunday November 27 with Matt Bidwell of GCH taking another race victory. On this occasion he clocked a fast 32.29, with Colm Turner of Limerick AC second and Michael O'Connor of GCH third.
Jean O'Connor of GCH was first lady home in 42.23, with Rita Kierce second and Maeve Flannery third.