A men’s team gold medal, a women’s team silver medal and the overall trophy saw the DCU Athletics Club reign supreme at the Intervarsity Cross Country Championships in Cork Institute of Technology recently.
The women’s team were first in action, midway through the Irish School’s Programme, meaning that the course, which was already tough in places, resembled a mud bath before the athletes took to it.
The race upfront was a battle between two members of the Trinity College squad, Maria O’Sullivan and Becky Woods, with O’Sullivan eventually proving to be the stronger of the two over the 5.1km distance.
TCD were deserving winners of the team trophy, with four scorers in the top 10. DCU closely followed the winners in the team competition with a strong performance.
Mary Mulhare was the first scorer on the DCU squad. She went out hard and was always in the top six, eventually finishing sixth as she was chased home by Mary Anne O Sullivan who moved her way through the field to finish one place behind Mulhare.
Deirdre Doyle, who was running for the team while on antibiotics, knuckled down to her task and paced herself well throughout to record an 11th placed finish with Laura Behan, coming in at 15th, anchoring the team to ensure a silver medal place.
Harriette Robinson (21st) and Elizabeth Carr (22nd) ran great debut races at IUAA XC as did Aislinn Moorhouse (27th), Rachael Kilgallen (39th) and Emily Milner (44th). The ladies set the standards for the men’s squad to follow.
The last event of the day was the men’s varsity race when conditions had significantly worsened resulting in a truly epic race.
John Coughlan, DCU’s first scorer, was magnificent from gun to tape and stamped his authority all over the race from early on, winning by 20 seconds from Ben Thistlewood (UCC) and John Travers (Athlone IT).
UCD were the defending team champions and it was clear from early on that they meant business, with Athlone IT the other main challengers. Team tallies ebbed and flowed for the first three laps of five. Strong debut performances came from two of the DCU first years: Ian Guiden, who came in in 10th place, and Michael Carey (16th) along with good running from Joe Warne (13th) and the experienced Darragh Greene, who rapidly moved through the field over the last two laps to cross the line one place behind Guiden.
DCU’s anchor man was Matt Horrigan, who made steady progress through the field to track Carey home in 17th.
UCD, with 7th, 8th, 12th, 14th, 15th and 18th places recorded, managed to just pip DCU to the post in the overall standings with a score of 74 points to the northsiders’ 68.
It was a very strong team performance overall, especially considering the notable absence of some of DCU’s top athletes, including David Mc Carthy who was competing for Ireland in the 1500m at the World Indoors in Sopot, Poland, finishing 10th with a time of 3.39.46, an impressive performance at world level.
Mary Ann O’Sullivan