Home Sport Athletics Stage set for the 59th running of the Laois Cross Country Championships...

Stage set for the 59th running of the Laois Cross Country Championships this weekend

Cross Country Championships

The 59th running of the Laois Senior Cross Country will take place on Sunday December 18 in Barrowhouse.

The hosting of this year’s event is on the land of a name synonymous with the event, Colm Burke.

Colm has won the Laois senior on a number of occasions and it will be a source of great pride for him and his family to host the event on his land.

The day will see the crowning of Laois’ male and female senior Cross Country Champions. There will also be mixed relays as part of the programme for the juveniles to enjoy.

In the female event, Mary Mulhare will go to the line as the favourite.

Mary, who recently played an important role in the Irish Women’s team bronze medal at the European Cross Country Championships, has been in excellent form throughout the cross country season.

She had excellent outings in Milton Keyes Cross Country as well as finishing 5th in the Irish National Championships one month ago, not to mention finishing 27th at the Euro Cross in Italy.

Cheryl Nolan and Kate McDonald will both offer opposition to Mary on the day.

Kate recently claimed a silver medal at the All Ireland Novice Championships and has displayed some excellent form across Cross Country and road this year, while Cheryl is yet to feature in the Cross Country season after an illness.

In the team standings it is wide open again this year. After winning the title last year, two of Balyroan’s McDonald sisters are away travelling which opens the door for another club to challenge them.

With a low scoring Mary Mulhare, Portlaois may start as favourites but it will depend how their other team members navigate the 5km course. Ballyroan, St Micheal’s and St Abbans will all fancy their chances of claiming a team medal also.

The men’s race should also be a very interesting event with plenty of athletes capable of taking the title.

Little is known of the form of multiple winner Colin Maher, who has been away in Brazil over the last number of months.

Colin will not be one to relinquish his title easily, especially in an event where he has had great success over the past number of years.

The 2019 winner, Cian Kelly pushed Colin in last year’s event and will hope to go one better this year. Brian Kelly has also began to show form in recent weeks with a 15:08 clocking in the Jingle Bells 5k at the start of December.

In Portlaois, the Lupton brothers may very well fancy their chances on Sunday of claiming the title.

Ballyroan/ Abbeyleix athletes will also fancy themselves, given their excellent form over the Cross Country so far this year.

Matthew McConnell, Cian McDonald, Jack McMahon, Eoghan and Conall Whelan will form a very formidable outfit and with Ronan O’Reilly and Tom Dunne they will take beating in the team competition.

Last year’s winners, St Abbans will also field a strong team hoping to retain their title from last year with the Kelly cousins, Will Fox and Colin Coyne all showing good form this season.

Portlaoise AC have a number of athletes capable of causing an upset on the day with the Mulhares and Lutpon brothers very strong over the country.

Ballyfin, St Micheal’s and Oughaval will also be contenders on the day with the six man scoring team, ensuring that each club has to get everyone out to compete.

The action will begin on Sunday at 11:30AM on the land of Colm Burke in Barrowhouse (Eircode R14 PK71).

The juvenile programme will include events for boys and girls u10 all the way up to U16. There’s no doubting this will make for a great morning of athletics.

SEE ALSO – End of an era as long-serving Laois forward Ross Munnelly announces inter-county retirement

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