National Juvenile Cross Country Championships, Even Ages, Abbotstown, 26-Nov-2017

The USAC BU14 team made a big breakthrough at Abbotstown yesterday, winning the club’s first national cross country title in decades. With big fields of elite under age athletes from the thirty two counties competing, the level of competition is always high. Athletes must qualify through their respective provincial events and following their successful Leinster exploits the Striders BU14 and GU18 teams, in addition to Aedan Rogers in the BU18 event, all qualified to compete.

The Leinster bronze medal winning squad of Grace Costello, Rebecca Bawden, Alannah Byrne, Grainne Flannelly and Joanne Kelly performed really well to earn a top ten placing in the club competition. The girls have been brilliant all season long and are great role models to our younger athletes. Likewise, Aedan Rogers has been in fantastic form recently and even though competing against older athletes, he looked right at home competing at this level, putting in a great effort to record a 51st place finish, in a field of almost 200.

The stars of the day and the pride of Wexford Athletics, were the newly crowned Irish champions, the Striders BU14 squad – Myles Hewlett, Darragh Flannelly, Cosmo Hewlett, Eoin Shannon, Finn Kelly and Aidan Shannon. In excess of 150 faced the starter and from the gun, Myles, Darragh and Aidan were prominent, with the other Striders settling nicely in the chasing pack. Despite being a year out of age, Myles, never dropped out of the lead pack and recorded a fantastic top 12 finish, to win an individual medal. Darragh continued his best ever cross country season, to record a top 20 finish. Cosmo finished like a train to move through the field, up the long uphill home straight, gaining several places that would become so important later on. Striders legend, Eoin Shannon, was the all important fourth man to score, with another impressive finish, just ahead of Finn and Aidan. The gold winning performance was greeted with great celebration, by the travelling supporters. Olympian and former club member, Andy Ronan, passed on some kind words of congratulations and encouragement, praising both the athletes and coaches. More messages from abroad flooded in, with ex Irish Junior 1,500m champion, former club member and Darragh’s uncle, John Hamilton commenting on the enormity of the achievement.

There was further good news in the shape of a Silver medal for the Wexford team in the county event. The USAC boys were joined by Ben and Robert Wall (Adamstown), James Hegarty (DMP) and David Kirwan (SBR), who were all magnificent and this should prove a real boost for Wexford athletics. More medals in the Provincial event, with Myles and Darragh both scoring for the Leinster team that placed second.

Well done to all the USAC and Wexford athletes on qualifying and competing so well, at the very highest level.

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