Shaughnessy sets the pace at cross country champs

Laura Shaughnessy in the lead.

Laura Shaughnessy in the lead.

Laura Shaughnessy of GCH dominated the senior women's event at this year's opening day of the County Galway Cross Country Championships at Galway Racecourse in Ballybrit on Sunday.

Shaughnessy took an early lead which she never relinquished to cross the tape with a commanding victory at this year's event hosted by Castlegar AC under the stewardship of Philip Madden and Stephen Casserly.

Over a course which provided a test for all athletes due to the windy conditions, there was an intriguing battle for second and third places, with Barbara Dunne of GCH trying everything to get away from the experienced Kathryn Casserly over the three-lap race. However, Casserly held on and had enough in the tank to take second place on the home stretch ahead of Dunne who had a superb race in third .

The first junior woman was Emma Boyle of Craughwell AC with a hugely impressive performance, while Helena O'Keeffe of Loughrea won the U18 event.

The men’s race featured a battle royale between multiple previous champion Gary Thornton, and his young challenger, Aaron Brennan, both of GCH. After a cagey early start, the race exploded into life as Thornton hit the front on the second lap of five and set for home, with only Brennan and Abbas Edris Adan of Castlegar able to stay close.

Thornton pushed hard on the longer laps, but Brennan clung on gamely, and there was less than 20yards between them at several points. However, the stamina of Thornton told in the end, and he raced home to yet another Galway title, followed by Brennan, with Adam in third.

in a full programme of juvenile races, Clare River Harriers athletes made it a double victory at U10 level, with Katie Brogan and Patrick Lee winning gold, while Craughwell and Tuam took the girls' and boys' team titles respectively.

In the U12 event a thrilling finish saw Craughwell athlete Stephen Joyce hold off fast finishing Liam Bailey of South Galway AC, while Eimear Fallon of Tuam AC won the girls' event. The team titles went to South Galway AC (boys ) and Tuam AC (girls ).

At U14 level, Eva Ruane of Ballinasloe AC held off long-time leader Myah Gallagher of Tuam, Enda Keane of East Galway timed his run to perfection to win the boys' event, while Tuam AC claimed both team titles to make it five team golds on the day.

In the U16 races , Keela Loomes of GCH won the 4km event, leading the GCH team to victory, while Mathys Bocquet of Craughwell looked imperious as he raced away to gold in the boys' race.

The combined boys U18/20 race saw the in-form William Fitzgerald of Craughwell AC storm away from the field to claim gold, with Oisin Davis, also of Craughwell, first at U18.

GCH claimed gold in both men’s and women's team events.


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