The 7th edition of the Autumn Open International Cross Country Festival in association with Fingal County Council will take place at the Sport Ireland Campus this coming Sunday (October 15th) with a host of star names set to take to competition across the busy schedule.
This year’s Autumn Open is part of the World Athletics Cross Country Tour (Bronze) and will for the first time incorporate a Mixed Senior Cross Country Relay (12.00pm) which will see the top two clubs qualifying to represent Ireland at the European Club Cross Country Championships in Portugal next February.
Autumn Open Cross Country: Senior Races
The senior men’s race is set for a 3pm start where Keelan Kilrehill (Moy Valley AC) will look to go one better than last year’s second-place finish in the absence of 2022 champion Darragh McElhinney.
Kilrehill’s running style seems very much suited to the course at the Sport Ireland Campus, demonstrated on that memorable day at the 2021 European Cross-Country Championships where his 6th place finish helped Ireland to team gold in the U23 race.
Kilrehill looks set to take his place alongside some seasoned cross country specialists, no more so than Pierre Murchan (Dublin City Harriers) who will be looking to ramp up his own preparations for another tilt at European Cross Country selection following his impressive season on the roads which saw him pick up the national 5k title.
Sean McGinley (Finn Valley AC) moves up to the senior ranks following last year’s win in the junior race at the Autumn Open. McGinley has made no secret of his intentions to target another big cross country season and the Finn Valley athlete looked very impressive in taking last weekend’s Donegal Cross Country title on his senior debut.
Ennis Track Club’s exciting duo of Mark Hanrahan and Dylan Casey are sure to go well, while last year’s national novice champion Paul Hartnett (East Cork AC) has looked sharp on the grass this Autumn and can be expected to give another good showing.
The senior women’s race (2.20pm) looks set to be an ultra-competitive affair with Loughborough’s Abbie Donnelly not returning for her tilt at three-in-a-row.
It could very well be the race of the day and the surprise inclusion of Olympian and 800m champion Louise Shanahan (Leevale AC) adds another layer of intrigue to a race that already looked to have several contenders.
Íde Nic Dhómhnaill (West Limerick AC) produced one of the performances of the national track championships earlier this season to claim the 5000m title in Santry and many will see the West Limerick AC athlete as one of the leading favourites over the 6000m course on Sunday.
Cheryl Nolan (St Abbans) also captured a memorable national title earlier this year, picking up a well-deserved indoor 3000m gold medal with a superb tactical run. The St Abbans athlete should be well positioned heading into the final circuit and won’t be found wanting for tactical speed if within touching distance of the leaders.
The consistent Aoife O’Cuill (St Cocas) is another who seems at home on the Sport Ireland course and is sure to give her running, while Danielle Donegan (Tullamore Harriers) and Fiona Everard (Bandon AC) enjoyed impressive cross country seasons last year and can’t be discounted.
Letterkenny look well represented once more and Nakita Burke (Letterkenny AC) will head into this weekend buoyed by her recent Donegal championship win, while teammate Natasha Adams (Letterkenny AC) will look to better last year’s second place finish in the master’s race in the absence of last year’s winner, Sinead O’Connor (Leevale).
The men’s masters race looks hard to call on the back of a bumper entry across the age categories. The race for gold in the O35 category could be a thriller with Rory Cheeser (Ennis Track) and Eoin Everard (Kilkenny City Harriers) sure to have eyes on the leading places.
Ennis Track also look to have a strong hand in the junior men’s race and expect to see teammates Niall Murphy, and Barry Conway right up alongside Darragh Mulrooney (Moy Valley AC). European Youth Olympics star Sean Cronin (Clonliffe Harriers) is sure to gain a leading position from the gun, while Billy Coogan (Kilkenny City Harriers) is another to keep a close eye on as the race progresses.
Fresh from her appearance at the European U20 Championships in August, Avril Millerick (Youghal AC) returns to the scene of here impressive win in last year’s race. Millerick will likely be pushed all the way by Nicole Dinan (Leevale AC) and Mayo’s Clodagh Gill (Moy Valley AC).
The Dublin County Juvenile Even Age Cross Country Championships take place from 9.30am in advance of the Autumn Open on Sunday.
- Senior Men & Women: 1st: €500, 2nd: €400, 3rd: €300, 4th: €200, 5th: €100
- Under 20 Men & Women: 1st: €150, 2nd: €100, 3rd: €50
- Masters: Jim McNamara Perpetual Trophy: 1st €200, 2nd: €140, 3rd: €60
- Entry to the Autumn Open International Cross Country Festival is free for spectators.
- Parking Information Here
Cross Country Xperience (Recreational Event):
The Athletics Ireland Cross County Xperience will take place after the Autumn Open Cross Country races at 3.40pm. Participants will have the opportunity to run on the same cross country course that hosted the hugely successful 2021 European Cross Country Championships!