Last Sunday, November 25th, was a brilliant day for Clonmel Athletic Club at the National Senior Cross-Country Championships in Abbotstown. Our Senior men firmly established the Club on the Athletic map when winning the National Senior Men Inter Club Bronze medals, the 3rd best Club in Ireland, phenomenal achievement by seven fantastic athletes, the Magnificent Seven. This has to be our greatest athletic achievement ever, to win National Senior Men Inter Club Bronze medals in the toughest athletic event and matching it with the very best Clubs in Ireland, Phenomenal achievement, indeed Sensational.
The day started very well with our team all relaxed and determined and a great spirit and camaraderie in the Club tent, all ready to give it everything in the Challenge that laid ahead, each one determined to do their part in what was to be a Historic day for the Club. Never before did the Club win Medals at this level as this team was striving to go one better than our 1996 team that won the B Section in these Championships, today our Club was competing against the best Clubs in the Country and they were confident that they would make their mark.
Right from the start we had two Clubmates dictating the pace, with Kevin Maunsell leading the charge after 400m that soon had the field in Indian file as he was tracked by Kevin Rooney of Raheny Shamrocks and our own Sean Tobin, over a course where the underfoot conditions were mainly firm and good and the pace was fast and relentless throughout the 10k. Midway through the first of the five laps these three athletes had opened up a commanding lead on the rest of the field. Then as the race unfolded both Sean and Kevin Rooney took time at the front. Going out on the 4th lap Sean was in 2nd place with Kevin in 3rd spot with nothing to separate the top three. Then midway through the lap Rooney increased the pace and soon opened a gap on Sean with Kevin in close attention. As they went out on the final lap Sean was running hard to try and close the gap but Rooney having got the lead was determined to keep the pace relentless and try as he did over the final 2k, Sean couldn’t close the gap but he ran a fantastic race to win the National Senior Men Silver medal, a phenomenal achievement and the first Tipperary athlete to achieve this honour, absolutely fantastic performance. Then we had another phenomenal performance from Kevin Maunsell who once again showed that he can mix it with the best on any terrain when running a brilliant race to win the National Senior Men Bronze medal and what an improvement in twelve months as he was 5th in this event last year. This year was different, he went with the early pace, set the pace and was well positioned throughout and at one stage was challenging for the Silver medal, phenomenal. Sensational stuff, two Clonmel AC athletes in the top three at the Blue-ribbon event of the Irish Cross-Country scene, Unbelievable, Magic. Then we had William Maunsell running what for me was his best performance in Cross Country. William went out strong and was in the low twenties over the first half of the race but then over the final two laps he put in the Proverbial blinder when moving through the field and he was full of running going out on the final lap and he maintained that tempo all the way as he passed a number of athletes to finish a fantastic 13th, absolute brilliant performance. Then we had David Mansfield also putting in a superb performance on his debut for the Club at this level. David who had a fantastic performance in the Dublin City Marathon last month showed that he had recovered very well when running a brilliant race especially over the final two laps as he passed a number of athletes to finish 55th, brilliant. We also had very good performances from our other three members, Michael Carey 69th, Joey Feery 121st and Anthony Bowen 128th, with both Joey and Anthony making their debut at this level, brilliant. In the team event our team of Sean, Kevin, William and David combined to win the National Senior Men Inter Club Bronze medals, a phenomenal performance, a first for the Club. They showed that they were able to mix it with the cream of Irish Cross-Country talent and sit at the top table, with two on the podium and an Inter Club team medals at the highest level of Irish Athletics, a very proud day for Clonmel Athletic Club. This quartet of Sean, Kevin, William and David formed the backbone of a very strong County team that included Sergiu Ciobanu of Clonliffe Harriers 19th and Kevin Moore of Dundrum who was 42nd, two very good performances and they all combined to win the Senior Men’s inter County Silver medals, a first by the County since Athletics Ireland was formed in 2000, brilliant performances all round.
It was also brilliant to see such great support for our team throughout the course and that was very very much appreciated by the athletes, for every corner they went around they were met with cheering fans, great credit also to Neil Proven for setting up the tent, brilliant Club effort. Earlier in the day we had Anne Marie Boland competing in the Senior Women’s Cross-Country Championships and she too ran very well in her debut in these Championships when helping the County team to finish 6th.