Athletics – Downey’s Nissan Laois Athletics intermediate road race
John Fenlon (St Abban’s) and Lisa Sweeney (St Michael’s) took the top honours at the Downey’s Nissan Laois Athletics intermediate road race in Vicarstown this morning.
St Abban’s and St Michael’s also won the team event in the mens and womens event respectively.
This intermediate event was introduced last year to satisfy this need for more county road races, and to fill a gap between novice and senior races. Eligibility for this race is that athletes have to be over 20 before the end of the year, and not have placed in any previous running of a county intermediate or senior road championship.
“It was lovely to welcome our sponsors Mr and Mrs Richard Downey to the event, and Laois Athletics are delighted with their wonderful support this past 12 months,” said a statement from Laois Athletics. “This much-needed support has enabled us to make important investment in our sport and its athletes.”
The weather was good, and although overcast, it stayed dry and there was just a slight breeze. There were good crowds present, and the supporters were well spread out over the final kilometre of the course, and provided the athletes with some brilliant support, much required in the closing stages of a race.
The juvenile races, which preceded the main events, are fast becoming an ever-valuable addition to these county race programmes, and are attracting good numbers of runners.
The Ladies Intermediate Race over 3K had a delayed start due to the large numbers in the juvenile races, but there was plenty of camaraderie and banter on the start line, which kept spirits high and muscles warm!
The course was as flat as could be, the middle section was into a slight breeze, and it finished along the canal up towards the bridge in Vicarstown. It was one of the more competitive races in recent years, with five full teams representing Ballyfin AC, Ballyroan Abeyleix & District AC, Portlaoise AC, St Abbans AC, and St Michaels AC, so a super turnout from the Laois women today.
The pre-race favourite was Lisa Sweeney (nee Murphy) from St Michael’s AC, who established a significant lead from half way, and went on to win easily. Second place went to Sinead Kelly from St Abbans, doubling up on her silver medal from the Novice race a couple of weeks ago. Also repeating her Novice performance was Joanne Carroll (Portlaoise AC) who ran on well to take the bronze medal. The team gold went to a delighted St Michael’s (27 points), with silver to Portlaoise AC (29 points), and third to St Abbans (39 points).
There was a good turnout for the men’s also, with representatives from all the clubs with senior runners. They had a lap and a half to do, with their final 3K the same as the women’s race. John Fenlon from St Abban’s has been in terrific form of late, and took the race by the horns from the gun.
Running solo for the whole race, he finished strongly to win by a good margin. There was an exciting finish for the silver medal with Portlaoise AC’s Tom Lupton pressed hard in the final 100m by Ballyfin AC’s Roibeard Miller.
The younger legs managed to hold on, but it was a great finish, with both athletes giving their all in the closing stages. The team gold went to St Abbans AC (22 points), with Portlaoise AC (33 points) in second, and Ballyfin AC (43 points) taking the team bronze.
The next Championship Road event is the Senior Road Race, which will be hosted by Rosenallis-Kilcavan, and will take place on Sunday, March 26, in Kilcavan. With all the county’s senior athletes eligible to run, this will be the blue riband of the championship series, so make sure and mark the date in your diaries
THE FULL RESULTS ARE AS FOLLOWS:
1st – Lisa Sweeney (St Michael’s)
2nd – Sinead Kelly (St Abban’s)
3rd – Joanne Carroll (Portlaoise)
1st – St Michael’s (27 pts)
2nd – Portlaoise (29 pts)
3rd – St Abbans (39 pts)
1st – John Fenlon (St Abban’s)
2nd – Tom Lupton (Portlaoise)
3rd – Riobeard Miller (Ballyfin)
Mens Team results
1st – St Abban’s (22 pts)
2nd – Portlaoise (33 pts)
3rd – Ballyfin (43 pts)
U-9 Girls (300m)
1st – Cara English (St Abbans AC)
2nd – Charlotte Fee (Oughaval AC)
3rd – Laura McEvoy (Ballyfin AC)
U-9 Boys (300m)
1st – Daniel Downey (Portlaoise AC)
2nd – Kalem Buggy (St Abbans AC)
3rd – Séan Conroy (Mountmellick AC)
U-11 Girls (600m)
1st – Ella Dunne (Oughaval AC)
2nd – Rachel Ayres (St Abbans AC)
3rd – Jane Hyland (Rosenallis/Kilcavan AC)
U-11 Boys (600m)
1st – Eamon Browne (Oughaval AC)
2nd – Fionn Cuddy (Portlaoise AC)
3rd – Oliver McCawley (Portlaoise AC)
U-13 Girls (1,000m)
1st – Faye McEvoy (Ballyroan, Abbeyleix & District AC)
2nd – Poppy Hackett (St Michaels AC)
3rd -Kate Connolly (St Michaels AC)
U-13 Boys (1,000m)
1st – Jack Fenlon (St Abbans AC)
2nd – Adam Buggy (St Abbans AC)
3rd – Evan English (St Abbans AC)
U-15 Girls (1,000m)
1st -Seoighe English (St Abbans AC)
2nd – Niamh McDonald (Ballyroan, Abbeyleix & District AC)
3rd -Ava Prendergast (Ballyfin AC)
U-15 Boys (1,000m)
1st -Ronan Hyland (Rosenallis Kilcavan AC)
2nd – Oisin Jago (Oughaval AC)
3rd – Charlie Hackett (St Michaels AC)
U-17 Girls (1,400m)
1st- Orla Fennelly (Oughaval AC)
2nd – Ciara Phelan (Ballyfin AC)
3rd – Inez Looney (Ballyfin AC)
U-17 Boys (1,400m)
1st – Cathal Connaughton (Oughaval AC)
2nd – TJ Burke (St Abbans AC)