Danielle Donegan proved at the U-11 level at the Uneven Age All Ireland Cross Country that she is one of the brightest prospects that Tullamore Harriers has seen in recent years.
Not only does she have the raw talent but added to this she has an acute sense of racing tactics and the true grit that champions are made out of. She finished third individually on Saturday and her amazing run meant that she led the Leinster team to victory in the All Ireland championships.
Danielle having finished second in Leinster over the mile distance was the sole Tullamore qualifier in this age division. A third of way into the race the pace began to settle and Danielle was in roughly 20th place and just getting into her running. Within two hundred yards she had passed another ten athletes and now she began to work past others. She did this with surprising ease and with five hundred yards left she was brave enough to take the leaders by surprise and surged past them. Only briefly in the lead, Danielle sprinted her heart out to get to the line in third. She was first home from a Leinster team which relied on her stellar performance for a two point victory over a quality Munster squad.
Brian Todd finished 49th in this his first All Ireland Championships. Considering there were over one hundred athletes behind him, he should be very proud of his fine run. He was out strong at the start and then held on to his good position throughout the race.
Eoin Muligan and his brother Ciaran led the challenge for Tullamore in this age grade. The duo showed well early on and continued to fight all the way over the the 2.5km distance. They along with Chinnie Izuchukwu, Mark Milner and Christopher Whittle should be rightly proud of their seventh place team finish.
Since coming home second in the Leinster Championships a month ago Cara Todd has been through the mill a bit with a vomiting bug and chest infection but still she won an All Ireland silver medal last Sunday by being a scorer on the Leinster team. The whole team were slow to get going and with five hundred metres gone Cara was about thirtieth place and just getting started to try and pick her way towards the front. Over the two miles that followed she got herself up to a fourteenth place finish which all things considered was a fine performance. Nadine Donegan, Emily Grennan, Keelin Guilfoyle, Emma Horan, Michelle Keegan and Ciara Galvin made up the team and right to the finishing line each girl could be seen trying their hearts out. The team did great to finish seventh, less than forty points off medals.
Chinnie Izuchukwu has matured into a fine athlete in the last couple of years and his run last Sunday has showed that he has improved considerably over the last month. Chinnie only really got started training in this period and can be satisfied that things are moving in the right direction with schools cross country starting in six weeks or so. Chinnie led home the boy’s by coming home 26th in a race where well over 100 finished. He was one place off an All Ireland gold medal as he like Eoin Mulligan was just outside the being part of the Leinster team. He was joined on the start line by Sean Rigney, Glenn Cunningham, Conor Butler and Mathew Molloy (Barry Mooney was out sick) and the boys all tried all the way round the 3.5 kilometer course.
Nicole Cuskelly has definitely turned a corner on her early season indifferent form. She followed up a credible 16th place finish in Sligo two weeks ago with an even better run over 4.5 kilometres last Sunday. After a kilometer she was in 22nd and with some determined running Nicole fought her way passed the opposition to get up to 13th place by the finish line. With schools cross country competition after Christmas, Nicole is coming into form at just the right time.
Eileen Rafter and Sinead Rigney fought all the way and their runs meant that they finished 37th and 46th respectively. Both girls have competed well over the cross country season and now can look forward to being a lot stronger for the Indoor season
Aoife Dempsey made a comeback to the club colours after a layoff of eighteen months. The club are very grateful to Aoife and hope to see her back as a regular fixture at club outings.
The team that had qualified was decimated by injury and illness but still two members, Joe Gilligan and Diarmuid O’Carroll, laced up ready to compete over the 5km distance. Joe was with the lead group early on and ran bravely to stick with what was a fierce pace being pushed along by Mullingar’s Shane Fitzsimons and Dunleer’s Aaron O’Hanlon. Diarmuid is only recently back from illness and he made the wise decision to start off conservatively and to work himself gradually into the race.
Joe went through a bad patch after three kilometers with chest pains but rallied later on to come home in a credible 45th. Not bad for a first All Ireland experience. Diarmuid had passed a couple of dozen athletes by the finish line.
All club juvenile members are asked to take note that the annual Christmas party this year takes place on Tuesday, December 20 and we are meeting outside the cinema at 6.30pm.