The annual home countries Masters International Cross Country championships took place on Saturday at Bellahouston Park near Glasgow. Once again the Irish team finished in overall second place to England - winners for the umpteenth time. The event took place in very difficult conditions - rain, mud, and high winds.
As well as the weather, the athletes had to contend with dangerously slippery hills and a number of them decided not to risk it. Ireland had three individual winners - Peter Matthews (M40 ) who also won the men's race for the second year, Ciaran Doherty (M35 ), and Carmel Parnell (W55 ). They also won gold in the men's M35 and M60 categories. The M60 win was a wonderful result for Mayo AC's Jim Gaughan. The Belmullet native, based in Dublin, has made a fine return to form this year.
Successful inter-county cross country championship
The Woodie’s DIY national inter county cross country championships took place at Sligo Racecourse recently. Heavy rainfall over the past week made for heavy underfoot conditions and stamina testing races. After a number of juvenile and junior races, the senior women's and men's races took place on a course that was very mucky in places. Mayo had just the requisite four runners in their team for the senior women's 8k. It was always going to be a tough task for four masters athletes to take on the seniors. However Colette Tuohy ran a great race in her trademark aggressive style and led the team home in 28th place in a field of 53. She was followed by Angela O'Connor (42 ), Colette Sweeney (46 ), and Anne Murray (49 ). Mayo finished sixth county in the team placings.
There were 116 finishers in the senior men's race (including u23s ). John Byrne had assembled one of the strongest teams in the county for some time but unfortunately he was not able to start. However it was great to see 10 athletes from the county on the start line - some of them competing in their first cross country race, and they certainly found out all about it over 10k and five gruelling laps. Roger Barrett was aiming for a top 30 finish and was in line for that throughout, but tired over the final 3k. His 32nd place was well earned on this terrain and in very competitive company. Ballyhaunis native Michael Freeley (Rathfarnham WSAF ) in 56th place, was next in for the county, ahead of Robert Malseed (72 ), Michael Canty (75 ), Anto Devaney (83 ), Sean Gallagher (87 ), Tommy Neville (91 ), Michael McNeela (102 ), Gerry Galvin (110 ), and Brendan Hession (111 ). Mayo finished 11th of the 13 competing county teams and came second of the four teams in division B.