All Ireland Schools’ and Universities’ Cross Country Championships
If you build it, they will come! As the course for the All Ireland Schools’ and Universities’ Cross Country Championships started to take shape (under the watchful eye of Mr Heslin – Ed), the excitement around Clongowes began to build. The course designed to test the finest underage athletes in the country wound and snaked its way through the school grounds with the ever impressive castle and 1929 building forming an imposing background.
On the morning of the event, March 7th, athletes and spectators began to arrive from all 32 counties. Over 1000 qualifiers from regional and provincial eliminators readied themselves for what was, in most cases, the culmination of their training and the high point of their athletic year.
As expected, the quality of the races was exceptional. In all, there were 10 categories from the relatively short 2000m for Minor Girls to the agonising 8000m for the University Men. The blustery conditions added to the challenge while enthusiastic crowds offered much needed vocal and moral support.
The carnival atmosphere complemented the competitive racing. The big screen, pumping P.A. with lively commentary, hot chocolate in abundance and Duck Pushers at large added to the sense of occasion, while over by the pavilion the individual and team presentations were made to the worthy champions by special guests, former Olympians and our own Headmaster, Fr Moloney.
By 4pm the estimated four thousand spectators, parents and athletes had departed via the special one-way system introduced to cope with the throngs. On a day when medals were won or lost, rivalries rekindled and sporting lessons learned, all had a memorable experience. For one day, as the commentator so frequently said, the grounds of Clongowes Wood College became, for all, a Field of Dreams.
Mr Shane Heslin
Picture by Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE