The scenic seaside venue of Mullaghderg, Annagry was the setting for last Sunday’s Donegal Novice and Juvenile Cross Country Championships.
Lifford AC travelled in big numbers and returned home satisfied with a large medal haul and numerous good performances.
Pride of place went to the Senior Men’s Novice team which won team silver in an enthralling race which went right down to the wire, losing out on a team gold by just 3 points to Letterkenny AC. Led home by Daniel Hannigan, running the race of his life to take an individual silver, the Lifford lads packed well with Sean Dudgeon in 8th, Paul Kelly in 10th and Eddie Kelly in 12th to give a team total of 32 points. There were excellent runs too from Jimmy Crossan in 14th, Bill Duncan (20th), Gary Gallagher (23rd), Paddy Gallagher (41st), and Brian Breslin (52nd). The result was just reward for the hard work and effort put in over the past year by the Lifford AC lads and having been so close to team gold on this occasion, will be all out to go one better in the Ulster Novice Championships in a couple of weeks time.
The Ladies Novice saw a number of good performances from Lifford AC athletes with Leoni Cooke the first Lifford woman home in 15th position. Cooke was followed by Rachel Friel (26th), Amanda Monaghan (28th), Jackie Timoney (30th), Andrea McGavigan (37th), Mary Mullen (41st), Isobel Breslin (45th) and Roisin Friel (47th). This was the first taste of cross country running for most of these girls and they will be well satisfied with 5th team overall.
At Juvenile level, there was team silver for the Lifford AC u14 Boys team. Niall Quinn led the team home with a brilliant individual silver medal, and was followed by Charlie McElwaine (5th), Thomas Mullen (10th), Conor Breslin (14th), Fionntan Moore (15th), and Conor McGinley 16th).
Shannon Craig ran her best ever race in the u16 Girls event to take bronze – all the more noteworthy in that the Raphoe girl is still only u15. Alan McGinley, likewise was running out of his age-group in the u16 Boys race but still had a great run to also take bronze. McGinley was followed home in this event by Brandon Connolly who had a steady run to finish 13th.
Karen Gallagher was another to have to step up an age-group in the u18 Girls race. Gallagher went with the early pace and appeared to be comfortable at the half way mark in a small breakaway group of three athletes. The early pace took its toll, however, on the final lap with Gallagher, this year’s national steeplechase silver medallist, having to settle for a still creditable 2nd place overall.
Martin Mbuli had his first race in the Lifford AC colours and was not overawed by the occasion by running brilliantly to take 2nd in the u8 Boys event. In the u8 Girls race, Clara Mullen was first Lifford AC girl home in 16th position, followed home by Jaime McGinley in 20th.
The u10 Girls race had three Lifford AC athletes involved with Alisha Cuskelly leading the girls home in 18th, followed by Adrienne Gallen in 28th and Anna McGavigan in 33rd.
The u10 Boys team ran well to finish 4th team overall with Odhran Gallagher in 11th, Mark Mbuli (14th), Cormac O’Donnell (19th), and Harvey Mullen (31st).
Olivia Cuskelly was Lifford ACs sole representative in the Girls u12 race, running gamely to finish in 27th, while sister, Claudia Cuskelly, also ran well to take 29th in the Girls u14 event.
Wilson Craig was the first Lifford AC athlete home in the Boys u12 race, running well to take 14th with Eoin Breslin also having a fine run to finish in 38th position.