The missing ingredient of ‘head to head’ confrontation in sport reappeared in abundance, at the National Cross Country Championships on Sunday, in Santry. A titanic battle between the competitors for places on the Irish teams for the European’s. This erupted from the gun in the Senior Men’s race, with the main protagonists forging to the front in the battle for supremacy. Favourites Hiko Tonosa (D.S.D.) and Darragh McElhinney (U.C.D) were joined by Paul O’Donnell and Emmet Jennings, both D.S.D. With 10,000m to cover it was essential to conserve energy for a good finish and yet be competitive. At half way Paul O’Donnell decided to test the opposition, as he surged to the front, followed through by Hiko and Darragh, with Emmet Jennings hanging on for dear life. It was now strictly a four man contest, with only three being guaranteed automatic qualification for the Europeans.
At this stage Darragh and Hiko pushed to the front with Paul and Emmet striving to keep the gap down to manageable proportions. Darragh, recent winner of the Autumn Open, and Hiko double winner 5,000m/10,000m National Track Championships, were locked in battle, with the finish line in sight. With 300m to go Hiko’s high tempo changed to a sprint, which carried him to a great victory, and ensured he would lead the Irish team, at the European Championships in Abbotstown in December. Paul O’Donnell, who was 2nd to Hiko in the National 5,000m, finished strongly for the Bronze medal, with Emmet Jennings producing the run of his life, to finish 4th. He will be disappointed if this stellar display does not gain him selection to join his D.S.D. team mates in the green vest of Ireland for a first time, at the upcoming prestigious championships. Rounding off a magnificent team performance for
D.S.D., was Matt Bergin in 15th place. Killian Mooney 39th and Robert Corbally 74th also put in fine performances.
Meghan Ryan just missed out on a place in the Women’s Team, as she finished 12th in a top class race over 6,000m. Meghan was placed close to the top ten throughout the race as she battled all the way to the finish line.
Emma McEvoy, a recent convert from swimming, astounded the running fraternity, with an impressive front running display to lead the Junior Women’s race, only to give way over the last 100m, for a 2nd place finish in the Junior race and taking 1st place U.18 Championships. She will qualify for Junior category for two more years.
Senior Men (Team 1st)
1 Hiko Tonosa 30.32
3 Paul O’Donnell 30.47
4 Emmet Jennings 30.51
15 Matthew Bergin 31.38
39 Killian Mooney 32.30
74 Robert Corbally 33.44
12 Meghan Ryan 28.35; 61 Niamh Devlin 31.39
Junior Women (Team 4th)
Emma McEvoy; Isabella Tomkin Beddy; Emma Goddard; Saoirse O’Brien
Report by Eddie McDonagh
Thanks to Lindie Naughton for action shots!