Over 400 athletes took part in the Cross Country Finals at the Finn Valley Centre with students from over 20 schools in Donegal, Derry and Tyrone in attendance, adding to the 700 who participated in the primary schools version on Tuesday.
The darkened skies above and the drenching rain at times made for squelching conditions and a signal that cross country season has well and truly arrived.
Among those in attendance for the event were Finn Valley AC’s Flanagan twins, Eilish and Roisin, who are set to return soon to the United States ahead of their own cross country seasons, while the medals were presented by Finn Valley AC athlete Oisin Toye.
St Columba’s College made good use of the home soil to take five of the eight team titles on offer, including an impressive second year girls team.
Emma Bonar led an excellent top-five from Loreto Secondary School, Letterkenny in the senior girls race. Bonar, who runs for Letterkenny AC, competed at the AAA Championships in England in August having taken bronze in the national under-16s over 800m.
Bonar won gold ahead of Anna Russell and Sarah Henry, while Sophie Ellis and Sophia Ward were all in the top five, with Orla McCrory from Deele College completing the top six.
Michael Moore landed the senior boys gold. The Loreto Community School, Milford man moved away from the pack and was first past the post.
St Eunan’s College student Ciaran Logue was second with Cillian Doyle from Moville Community School in third.
Cara McGonagle took the spoils in the third year girls race, the Colaiste Ailigh student an excellent victory.
McGonagle led all the way and caught the eye as she took on the field and the conditions. Orla Faul from Loreto Secondary School, Letterkenny was second with Iva Gallen-O’Dwyer of St Columba’s taking the bronze.
Odhran McBrearty continued his good form with the gold in the third year boys event. The St Columba’s College student and Finn Valley athlete beat Leighton Greene (Rosses) into second with Moville Community School’s Dallan Curran collecting bronze.
As well as McBrearty, St Columba’s College had Pauric McGettigan, Brian Lyons, Jamie Gallagher, Jack Gallagher and Diarmuid Reid inside the top ten.
It was a local 1-2-3 in the second year girls race with Andrea Reid edging out her St Columba’s College schoolmates and Finn Valley AC colleagues Holly McNulty and Nia Byrne. All three were in the mix right to the finish.
Odhran Rodgers from Rosses was an excellent winner of the second year boys race, powering well clear to take a fine individual victory, followed by Cillian Ellis (Sacred Heart, Omagh) and Jayden Sproule (Omagh Academy).
Loreto Secondary School, Letterkenny student Ella Brennan won the first year girls race from a St Columba’s College quartet Niamh McGlinchey, Abi McGeehin, Aoibhinn McElhinney and Saorla Gilligan.
St Columba’s left with the team honours with Brennan having inched herself in front as the pen drew closer to edge a fine race.
Rosses Community School man Tristan Green freed himself from the shackles of Mark Alexander (St Columba’s College) and Oisin O’Brien (Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana) to win the first year boys race with Oisin Brown and Lee McGranaghan – both St Columba’s – next in line.
2023 Secondary Schools Cross Country at Finn Valley AC
First Year Girls
1 Ella Brennan Loreto Letterkenny
2 Niamh McGlinchey St Columbas Stranorlar
3 Abi McGeehan St Columbas Stranorlar
4 Aoibhinn McElhinney St Columbas Stranorlar
5 Saorlaith Gilligan St Columbas Stranorlar
6 Sinead McLaughlin Loreto Letterkenny
Schools: 1. St Columbas Stranolar (9); 2. Loreto Letterkenny (29); 3. Loreto Omagh (30)
First Year Boys
1 Tristan Green Rosses C.S.
2 Mark Alexander St Columbas Stranorlar
3 Oisin O’Brien Scoil Mhuire Buncrana
4 Oisin Brown St Columbas Stranorlar
5 Lee McGranaghan St Columbas Stranorlar
6 Pascal McMenamin Omagh CBS
Schools: 1. St Columbas Stranorlar (11); 2. Sacred Heart Omagh (42); 3. Crana College (43)
Second Year Girls
1 Andrea Reid St Columbas Stranorlar
2 Holly McNulty St Columbas Stranorlar
3 Nia Byrne St Columbas Stranorlar
4 Aimee McElchar St Columbas Stranorlar
5 Toni Boyle Rosses Community School
6 Laura Barrett Loreto Omagh
Schools: 1. St Columbas Stranorlar (6); 2. Moville Community School (26); 3. Loreto Omagh (33)
Second Year Boys
1 Odhrán Rodgers Rosses Community School
2 Cillian Ellis Sacred Heart Omagh
3 Jayden Sproule Omagh Academy
4 Raynne Rowan St Columbas Stranorlar
5 Michael Donaghey St Columbas Stranorlar
6 Eoin Lynch Moville Community School
Schools: 1. St Columbas Stranorlar (21); 2. Moville Community School (24); 3. Scoil Mhuire Buncrana (27)
Third Year Girls
1 Cara McGonagle Colaiste Ailigh
2 Orla Faul Loreto Letterkenny
3 Eva Gallen O’Dwyer St Columbas Stranorlar
4 Hannah O’Connor Donoghue St Columbas Stranorlar
5 Aoife McGeehan Loreto Letterkenny
6 Cliona Gallagher Loreto Letterkenny
Schools: 1. Loreto Letterkenny (13); 2. St Columbas Stranorlar (15); 3. Crana College (28)
Third Year Boys
1 Odhran McBrearty St Columbas Stranorlar
2 Leighton Green Pobal Scoil Rosses
3 Dallan Curran Moville Community School
4 Pauric McGettigan St Columbas Stranorlar
5 Cathal Doherty St Eunans Letterkenny
6 Brian Lyons St Columbas Stranorlar
Schools: 1. St Columbas Stranorlar (11); 2. Moville Community School (32); 3. St Eunans Letterkenny (38)
1 Emma Bonar Loreto Letterkenny
2 Anna Russell Loreto Letterkenny
3 Sarah Henry Loreto Letterkenny
4 Sophie Ellis Loreto Letterkenny
5 Sophia Ward Loreto Letterkenny
6 Orla McCrory Deele College
Schools: 1 Loreto Letterkenny (6); 2 Crana College (38) 3 Errigal College (45)
1 Michael Moore Loreto Milford
2 Ciaran Logue St Eunans Letterkenny
3 Cillian Doyle Moville Community School
4 Lorcan Byrne St Columbas Stranorlar
5 Andrew McCarron Moville Community School
6 Michael McCarron Moville Community School
Schools: 1 Crana College (14); 2 St Columbas Stranorlar (29); 3 St Eunans, Letterkenny (36)