Kilfinane AC Claim County Cross Country Title

It was a historic day at a rain sodden Demesne Park in Newcastle West last Sunday when Kilfinane AC triumphed in the county cross country championships for the very first time. The competition has been running since 1959 and many great runners are etched on the winner’s trophy, and now the names Adrian Hennessy, James Gubbins, Greg Ryan and Pat Irwin will be added to that impressive list.

For all in the club it has been a long wait to claim this title, indeed the club owes its origins to Pat O’Sullivan and Vinny O’Donnell starting Kilfinane AC in late 2009 with the sole aim of running in this competition. And now three years late after some heart-breaking near misses the club finally achieved its ambition of winning the competition.

For all involved in the club it is something to be proud of. Our numbers are growing all the time. We are the largest running club in Limerick not based around a large urban centre. We draw on athletes, male and female, from all over south Limerick and to see so many turn out in our club colours was a great sight. Behind the scenes a lot of hard work is going into attracting members, organising training and generally building the club and this victory is as much about the people putting in that tremendous work as the athletes themselves. Amidst all the celebrations of our win, congratulations must go to all the individual runners from other clubs who won medals and a big thanks to West Limerick AC for their great work in organising the day. Indeed thanks too to everyone for their kind words when the results were finalised. It was really appreciated, the genuine words of encour-agement and praise from our rivals on the course, but friends off of it, no doubt they will be aiming to win back the trophy next year though!

The icing on the cake was of course Edel Hennessy going one better than her brother Adrian and claiming an individual bronze medal in the women’s race. There was heartbreak for the women’s team who just missed out on a team medal, beaten into fourth place unfortunately. Interesting too to see the name Paddy Gubbins on the first winning team in 1959 and now 53 years later another family member James is on a winning team. For Greg Ryan, he has the distinction of being the only club runner on the winning road and cross country teams in the last two years. Our other runners on the day Martin Hennessy, Sean Manning, Mike Fenton and Vinny O Donnell had a key role in the victory too, finishing well up the field and boosting our overall points total.

I am sure names have been missed out and the details of the race itself have been glossed over but it’s difficult to convey the importance this one race has to Kilfinane AC. To everyone who ever raced under our name, in the past or is currently running with us, to the people who helped us out with our road race, contributed to our fundraising or in any way helped us out along the way, this victory is for you.