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Athletics News - Saturday 24 Jan 2015

Kirwan Takes 4th Carlow Title in a Row

Brian Kirwan of LOT produced an outstanding display to retain the Carlow Senior Cross Country Title in the fine surrounds of Ballykealy, Ballon on Sunday, winning his 4th title in a row to retain the Johnny Jones Cup.

While Kirwan's title was on the line coming up against main contenders 12 time winner Pat Byrne and the emerging talent that is his LOT clubmate James McAssey, the LOT athlete set out his intentions from the start and was already 50m clear of the rest of the field before the 1km mark. At this point Kirwan was followed by Byrne and McAssey with a small group led by experienced Tinryland athletes Tommy Payne and Larry Murphy another distance behind as the field commenced what was 6 laps of 1 mile each in duration.

As the second lap progressed on a scenic course which favoured the large crowd of spectators present, Kirwan maintained his steady lead while Byrne maintained his pursuit followed by McAssey. It then became clear by the conclusion of the following circuit that Kirwan has timed his front running tactics to perfection and had such a considerable gap over his rivals that he would be unlikely to lose his hold on the individual title. The battle for the remaining places on the podium became more intriguing as McAssey overhauled Byrne to move within 100 metres of Kirwan as the race drew further towards a conclusion. In the meantime, the team event was becoming too close to call with both Tinryland and LOT having 6 scoring athletes each occupying the first 12 positions.

By the finish line, Kirwan managed to hold off the fast finishing County Novice Champion McAssey and continued his record of becoming the first O'Toole's athlete in the history of the Odlum Cup to win four successive titles, completing the 10km course in a time of 36 mins 53, 25 seconds ahead of McAssey in 37 mins 18 with Byrne taking the bronze medal in 37 mins 48. In taking the silver medal, McAssey was repeating the feat of his father John was runner up to Denis Shannon in this championship in 1977. The ageless Irish Masters International and 13 time winner Tommy Payne was 4th in 39 mins 11 with Larry Murphy 5th in 40 mins 16 while former medallist Kevin Lawlor of LOT made a surprise and welcome return to competition by placing 6th. Ken Archbold of LOT had a fine run on the day by finishing 7th while County Novice runner up John Dillon in 8th led home remaining scoring teammates Eddie Walsh and JJ Murphy in 9th and 10th respectively to enable Tinryland to win the overall team title. So close was the team battle for the Odlum Cup that both Tinryland and LOT were tied on 39 pts with the village club winning on countback due to Murphy placing 10th ahead of LOT remaining scorers Lar O'Neill 11th and Micheal Kelly 12th.

Once again great credit is due to the Bagenalstown club who had a full turnout of athletes with James Kelly, David Ashmore, Christian Dermody, Bill Barry, Fergal Foley and John Cassidy completing the 10km event on the day.

Another notable fact worthy of mention was JJ Murphy's presence on the winning Tinryland team in 2015, a staggering 48 years after winning a team medal as a teenager with LOT in 1967.
On a sourer note, there was some controversy prior to the start of the Senior Mens event when a dispute over the eligibility of some younger athletes led to a minor delay in proceedings before the starters gun went off.

In the Senior Womens 5km, there was an extremely depleted field consisting entirely of LOT athletes but nonetheless there was a competitive and exciting race up front with all starters in close pursuit for the most of the event. In the end Carlow Novice Champion and Marathon Runner Mary Clare Byrne broke clear in the remaining laps together with Brid Long. Following a close battle, Byrne stepped up a gear to increase her lead and win her maiden title in a time of 25 mins 12, 25 seconds ahead of Long with Maria Dunne winning her first medal at this level by taking bronze while Michelle McNamara ran bravely on the day close behind to complete the LOT team.

Great credit must go to the local officials and stewards in Ballon that ensured the course was in excellent order and well marked throughout and to all who helped out on the day in what were freezing conditions.

The following are the results:

Senior Men 10km:

1st- Brian Kirwan (LOT) 36-53 2nd- James McAssey (LOT) 37-18 3rd- Pat Byrne (Tinryland) 37-48 4th- Tommy Payne (Tinryland) 39-11 5th- Larry Murphy (Tinryland) 40-16 6th- Kevin Lawlor (LOT) 40-42 7th- Ken Archbold (LOT) 41-34 8th- John Dillon (Tinryland) 41-41 9th- Eddie Walsh (Tinryland) 42-17 10th- JJ Murphy (Tinryland) 42-29 11th- Laurence O'Neill (LOT) 42-35 12th- Micheal Kelly (LOT) 42-42 13th- Alan Shannon (Tinryland) 42-53 14th- Graham Power (LOT) 43-20 15th- Fiach O'Toole (LOT) 43-59 16th- James Kelly (Bagenalstown) 45-13 17th- David Ashmore (Bagenalstown) 45-35 18th- Tom Cooney (LOT) 45-51 19th- Brian Kilbride (LOT) 45-52 20th- Christian Dermody (Bagenalstown) 47-42 21st- Bill Barry (Bagenalstown) 48-55 22nd- Fergal Foley (Bagenalstown) 49-35 23rd- John Cassidy (Bagenalstown) 50-52 24th- Jim Shannon (LOT) 54-00

Teams- 1st Tinryland (3,4,5,8,9,10)- 39 pts (won on count back) 2nd LOT (1,2,6,7,11,12)- 39 pts 3rd Bagenalstown (16,17,20,21,22,23)- 119 pts

Senior Ladies 5km

1st- Mary Clare Byrne (LOT) 25-17 2nd- Brid Long (LOT) 25-37 3rd- Maria Dunne (LOT) 26-09 4th- Michelle McNamara (LOT) 26-55

Team 1st- LOT (1,2,3,4) - 10 pts

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