County Novice XC:
The County Novice and U23 XC was held in Riverstick on Sunday October 4th under very tight organised Covid restrictions. The event ran exactly as advertised and all credit has to go to all involved in the organising the event in testing circumstances. Interestingly this was the first county championship of the year. Spoiler: The girls report goes first as they were the only ones who won medals.
There was a big battle to be the number 1 East Cork Novice lady. Michelle and Jen have been training together all summer and this was the first of hopefully many battles to come. Jen went off confidently. With her great news from the day before she probably thought this was her extra lucky weekend. Unfortunately cross country doesn't work like that and after 2 laps the pain started. Michelle, who had no intention of trying to better her 3rd from last year, was hot on the heels of Jen to this point. Success was defined as beating her clubmate. While this duel was developing Annelise, Norah and Lorna served up another delightful battle. This time it was Annelise who was laying down the law in the middle section of the race. Avril Crowley, Eibhlin Cleary and Lavinia Swords were all having fine races just behind the girls. Coming into the final stretch, which was cruelly up a long hill Emily Knox of Leevale took the title in a convincing performance. Not far behind Michelle appeared in 4th with a sly smile/grimace on her face, a quick glance over her shoulder confirmed she had got what she came for - 8 seconds behind her was Jen, finishing her 1st official race for the club in 5th place. Annelise kept the pace going in the closing stages and stayed ahead of Norah and Lorna in convincing fashion. The girls finished in 18th, 20th and 22nd. Norah also was 3rd U-23 and also our only individual medal winner on the day. It is great when age is on your side. Avril had another great finish and was 29th with Eibhlin in 47th and Lavinia in 55th. This was good enough for 3rd team overall and agonisingly only 1 point off Leevale who came 2nd. St Finbarrs won the title.
The mens race was the talk of the place leading up to Sunday with a bumper 160 entrants. With a few not turning up and also a few who found the going not quite to their taste there ended up being 112 finishers, still a massive field for a county mens race.
Our leading man was again Stephen O'Brien, although he must be starting to get worried as Nicky with a block of uninterrupted training behind him has closed the gap dramatically since they last raced in the East Cork Seniors. To be fair both executed the race very well moving from about 14th and 15th positions at halfway to 9th and 10th at the finish. Stephen went for a lie down straight after to contemplate how the race went, while Nicky went in search of the elusive woods to warm down in. Further back Graham Swords and Chris Kelly had a great battle for 3rd spot on the team. At halfway Graham looked like he had done enough to keep Chris at bay but there was no die in this dog on this day. Chris had a monster last kilometer and overhauled about 5 people to get to 21st place with Graham 5 seconds behind in 24th. Paul Crotty suffered a bit after a hot first couple of km and finished in 41st. Tim Mahony was next in 55th and Chris McGrath cracked the top 100 with 95th place, if it was the Ballycotton 10 there would of been a tshirt for them all.
This got the men 5th team overall and heartbreakingly one behind Midleton AC. It was a great battle between the two clubs. Midleton were lead by Frank O'Brien who won the race overall and set a record the time for someone crossing the finish line and driving out the gate almost immediately after. It really was an impressive get away. If Michael Guineys doesn't work out and Liam knows how to operate an JCB then there could be a career in robbing ATM's up the North for the father son duo.
Unfortunately now with Level 3 restrictions all races are on ice until further notice. At best there might be some in November but that remains to be seen. The silver lining is training can go ahead as "normal" in the pod system so that will continue until we hear otherwise.