Great Weekend For Ireland

 What a great weekend for athletics in Ireland.  The world cross country championships held right here on our own doorsteps, so to speak; the leading runners in the world competing; the world’s media here to cover more of the positive things about Ireland and savour Irish hospitality; and to cap it all a fantastic team performance from Ireland’s women runners.
Congratulations to the Irish women’s team, to Sonia and Ann especially for really inspired performances.  In the case of Ann Keenan Buckley one has to say yet again that age is not a barrier to performance.  Hopefully many more older people will get actively involved in sport and take inspiration from her.
Well done also to the three Leevale runners, Mark Carroll, Fiachra Lombard and Martin McCarthy.  As they say, we’ll be back again next year.
While everything may not have gone exactly according to plan over the weekend, we should really be celebrating a job well done by everyone and not dwell too much on the negative side of things.
For many of the Irish junior athletes the championships were an eye-opener.  The junior women had a particularly tough time running as they did on Saturday when the wind was at it’s highest.  
While some commentators have remarked negatively on the performances of our juniors, it’s worth noting that Mark Carroll’s first run in the world cross country championships was back in 1989 in Finland where he finished last of the Irish runners.  Not only that but he finished in 103rd position with just five runners behind him. 

Imagine what the ‘experts’ were saying about him then!!
The following year he improved to a highly respectable 19th place in France, and first European, while in 1991 it was 35th in Antwerp.
Right now he’s the best male middle distance runner Ireland has ever produced.  Surely something our juniors can aim at.