Íde Nic Dhómhnaill (West Limerick A.C.) and Keelan Kilrehill (Moy Valley A.C.) were the star performers at this afternoon’s 7th edition of the Autumn Open International Cross-Country Festival in association with Fingal County Council. The World Athletics Cross Country Tour event welcomed a bumper crowd to the Sport Ireland Campus and those in attendance were not left disappointed with the leading favourites delivering winning performances in glorious October sunshine (Oct 15th).
Nic Dhómhnaill came into today’s race buoyed by her outstanding 5000m track title earlier this year and it was the West Limerick AC athlete who set an unrelenting pace from the gun which would ultimately see her challengers fall away over the final lap of the 6000m route.
Speaking after the race, Nic Dhomhnaill, who crossed in a winning time of 20:38 said, “It was my first cross-country race in a few years, so I didn’t know what to expect. After a lap or two I felt good, and my confidence grew so I said I’d take it on and keep the pace up.”
“The 5k win on the track has given me great confidence and my focus now will be on the national cross country in a few weeks’ time. I’ll then maybe look at a marathon or half marathon in the spring, so we’ll see.”
Nic Dhomhnaill was followed home by a fast-finishing Louise Shanahan (Leevale AC) who looked very much at home on the grass with an impressive second place finish (20:53).
Speaking after the race, the Irish 800m champion spoke of her decision to enter today’s race, “I was really enjoying training over the last few weeks, and I thought why not. I really enjoyed the first lap, the second lap a little less, and the third lap not at all, but my last lap was good, so it was fun and nice to do something different. I’m going to run cross country for my university in the UK but then my focus will be outdoors next year with a few indoor races before then.”
Nadine Donegan (Tullamore Harriers) was pipped for second by Shanahan’s trademark ‘sit and kick’ coming up the home straight with the Tullamore athlete ultimately having to settle for third place in 20:54.
The junior women’s race had a much more international feel to the podium placings with Belgium’s Charlotte Penneman (15:36) getting the better of England’s India Barwell (15:40) and defending champion Avril Millerick (Youghal A.C.) who had to settle for third in a brave defence of her 2022 title (16:00).
The senior men’s race signed off the day’s proceedings with Keelan Kilrehill (Moy Valley AC) looking very much at home in his first year in the senior ranks. Kilrehill built on last year’s second place finish to storm away from a chasing pack at the midway point to ultimately cross in a winning time of 24.27.
Speaking after the race Kilrehill said, “I did what I wanted to do. I wanted to sit in for the opening 2km and then go to the front and wind it up from there in the hope people would drop off so I’m happy how it went.”
“I didn’t take too much of a break since the national 5k but it’s the best block I’ve put in and probably the fittest I’ve been so I’m happy I could show it today. I don’t have a race now until nationals so the plan is to get a good block of training in over the next few weeks. Nationals will be even harder this year with the depth that’s there so hopefully I can improve on last year. It’s a big step up to senior this year but looking forward to it and hopefully try to get my first senior Irish vest.”
The Moy Valley athlete was followed home by Pierre Murchan who made his second appearance of the day having gone in the earlier mixed relay for DCH (24.44). Steeplechase specialist Finley Daly (Sligo A.C.) completed the podium in third in 24:51.
The junior men’s race was dominated by Ennis Track Club’s Niall Murphy who crossed in isolation in a winning time of 18:30. Billy Coogan (Kilkenny City Harriers) crossed for second in 18:56 with Sean Lawton (Durrus A.C.) third 19:03.
There was no shortage of action and drama in the master’s races throughout the day with the Jim McNamara trophy up for decision. Kilkenny’s Eoin Everard looked very impressive in the men’s race over 8000m (25:12), while Letterkenny’s Noeleen Scanlon (21:35) was first home in the women’s race (6000m).
For the first time, this year’s Autumn Open incorporated a Mixed Senior Cross Country Relay which saw Rathfarnham WSAF AC (18.36) and Dublin City Harriers (18.48) claim the top two spots, qualifying them to represent Ireland at the European Club Cross Country Championships in Portugal next February.
Juveniles Cross Country Relay
There were thrills a plenty in the battle for relay honours in the Inter-Club Cross Country Relays. More important than the titles on offer, the event offered the opportunity to further whet the appetite for cross country running. The event proved a huge success with a host of superb team performances across the hour of non-stop action. Kilkenny City Harriers claimed the first relay title of the day in the U11 girls race, shortly followed by Finn Valley AC who took the U11 boys title before following up with wins in the U12 mixed race and the U15 girls to round out a superb day for the Donegal club.
Cork athletes dominated the U13 girls race, with the Midleton AC relay team impressive winners, while Limerick AC packed superbly to claim first place in the U13 boys race.
Blarney Inniscara A.C. took home the honours in the U14 mixed race, while rounding out the relay action was the U15 category which saw Leevale AC claim the honours in the boys race.
2023 Autumn Open International Cross Country Results Summary
Senior Men 8,000m
- Keelan KILREHILL Moy Valley A.C. 24:27
- Pierre MURCHAN Dublin City Harriers A.C. 24:44
- Finley DALY Sligo A.C. 24:51
Senior Women 6,000m
- Ide NIC DHOMHNAILL West Limerick A.C. 20:38
- Louise SHANAHAN Leevale A.C. 20:53
- Nadine DONEGAN Tullamore Harriers A.C. 20:54
Junior Men 6,000m
- Niall MURPHY Ennis Track A.C. 18:30
- Billy COOGAN Kilkenny City Harriers A.C. 18:56
- Sean LAWTON Durrus A.C. 19:03.
Junior Women 4,500m
- Charlotte PENNEMAN Belgium 15:36
- India BARWELL England 15:40
- Avril MILLERICK Youghal A.C. 16:00
- Eoin EVERARD Kilkenny City Harriers A.C. M35 25:12
- Michael HARTY East Cork A.C. M40 25:28
- Kenneth ROGERS St. John’s A.C. M35 25:53
- Noeleen SCANLON Letterkenny A.C. F35 21:35
- Teresa DOHERTY Finn Valley A.C. F45 22:02
- Dymphna RYAN Dundrum A.C. F40 22:03
Full list of results from Autumn Open International: Here
Provisional Inter-Club Cross Country Provisional Results: Here