Cillian Galvin, U12 All-Ireland Cross Country Champion with John Cronin, president of Athletics Ireland.

All-Ireland Cross Country honours achieved in Donegal

As expected, the standard of competition at the AAI National Senior, Junior and Juvenile Even Ages Cross Country in Donegal last Sunday was extremely high and everyone had to be on the top of their game to win individual or team honours.

As the senior races were also trials for the European Cross Country Championships, to be held in Turin, Italy in December, there was a lot at stake for our senior men in particular.

The highlight performances included Jack O’Leary placing sixth senior man and Jamie Battle placing fourth U23 man, and while those performances might see them both just miss selection for Turin, they really gave themselves every chance to qualify and they helped Mullingar to third Senior Club and first county in their grade.

For our underage athletes, Cillian Galvin won an All-Ireland title; we had another top-12 finish place and a close 13th place finish too, in addition to one set of team medals for Mullingar underage teams, two teams finished a close fourth place, and four medals were won with Leinster teams, making this a good day of competition for Mullingar Harriers.

Despite heavy rain in the days leading up to the event, underfoot conditions were perfect throughout the long programme of races - the course was laid out on a golf links so it had excellent drainage. It was cold on the day, and there were occasional showers, but overall the weather was good for late November.

The course laid out by the host club, Cranford AC, was excellent, spectator friendly and with good running throughout on a varied undulating surface that proved fast.

The first race of the day was the 2,000m for girls U12, where Lily Walsh left nothing behind to turn in an excellent performance, finishing 13th overall, just outside the individual medal places, but any disappointment soon turned to celebration when she learned that she had won a gold medal with the Leinster team in the Inter-Provincial competition.

With great team packing and support from Chloe Bell, Shaynah Mitchell, Lucy Kilmurray, Amelie Kelly and Emily Tully, the girls finished a creditable fifth club, not far off the medal places, a good result against the best in Ireland.

Sprinting out hard from the start of the 2,000m for boys U12, Cillian Galvin took the early lead and never relinquished it to come home in first place to win a well-deserved all-Ireland title.

Also running well in support were Antonio Bertolo, Harry Flanagan, Louis Kiernan, Seamus Clarke and Aonghus O’Reilly, but the team finished out of the medal places, though Cillian led the Leinster team to third and a bronze team medal.

Tianna O’Leary stormed through to a fantastic eighth place finish in the 3,000m for girls U14, earning an individual medal and leading the Leinster team to a bronze team medal too.

Also competing was Eleanor Kiernan, running strongly to the finish in a competitive race. Mid-week illness robbed Conor Walsh of his best in the 3,000m for boys U14, and, with no Mullingar team in support, it was always going to be a challenge to take something from the race.

Despite that, he tried his best but was unable to reproduce the form he showed in Leinster - we’re confident he’ll bounce back and is sure to make his mark in Cork in two weeks.

Ailbhe O’Farrell was Mullingar’s sole representative in the 4,000m for girls U16 and even though she worked hard and put in a great effort, she finished out of the individual medal places and out of the medal places with the Leinster team, but will have taken a lot from competing at an all-Ireland.

Continuing his terrific recent surge in form, Conor Liston had the honour of leading the Mullingar team home in the 4,000m for boys U16, followed by Conor Liston, Jamie Wallace, Niall Brady and Luke Greene, running strong but finishing out of the medal places.

The 4,000m for girls U18 and junior women was a combined race where the U18 girls could win medals in both the U18 race and as members of junior teams. Leading the Mullingar girls home with a brilliant performance was Grace Byrne (U18), winning a silver medal with the Leinster team, and with great team packing in support from Caoimhe Donohue (U18), Méabh Killalea (junior), Jessica Cunningham (U18) and Aisling Lane (U18).

When the U18 and junior results were sorted, the Mullingar U18 team finished third club to win Mullingar a first set of team medals of the day. It was close in the junior race, where the Mullingar team finished fourth club in a close contest for the bronze medals.

The final underage race on the programme was another combined one, the 6,000m for boys U18 and junior men, where like the corresponding women’s race, medals were on offer in the U18 race and as members of junior teams.

Despite the valiant efforts of Diarmuid Fagan, Conor Sherwin, Ross Killalea, David Burke, Pablo Lozano and Conleth Mullen, the U18 team finished fourth club, just out of the medal places, and the junior men team finished fifth county, also narrowly missing the medal places in an extremely competitive race because it was the trail for Junior Irish teams for the European Cross Country and so attracted the best in Ireland.

Moving to the senior programme, Aine O’Reilly gave it her all and was pleased with her performances in the 8,000m for senior women against the cream of Irish women cross country talent. The day finished with the 10,000m for senior and U23 men, where Mullingar fielded a strong team.

Always in contention throughout, Jack O’Leary and Jamie Battle put in great shifts and as the race unfolded over seven laps, they were right in the mix for honours. It was only in the late stages that gaps began to open, but both kept pushing hard all the way and Jack finished in ninth place, ahead of Jamie (U23), 14th overall and fourth U23 man, followed in by Jack Moran (U23), Vinny Connolly, Euan Lagan (U23), Andrew Nevin, Ian McCormack and John Whitelaw (U23) all fighting hard for every place to the end.

With only the top three senior men and top three U23 men guaranteed selection for the European Cross Country, it’s likely Jack and Jamie will just miss selection for Turin, but you couldn’t fault their determined efforts and some consolation might be that they helped the team to third senior club and and fifth county, but counties are graded A and B, and Westmeath is a B county and placed first B county, so won county team gold medals and will be promoted to the A category next year.

Well done to all the Mullingar athletes on giving their best efforts and thanks to the parents of our underage athletes for making the long journey to Donegal and staying overnight before the event to make sure they were as well rested and prepared as possible.

Now that Donegal is behind us, our attention turns to Cork two weeks from now. We hope to field women and men novice teams, but we know Mullingar will be fielding nearly 40 underage athletes on club and county teams.

In addition to representing Mullingar and Westmeath, 10 of our juvenile athletes will also be on Leinster teams, one of the biggest representations from one club. If for any reason you cannot compete, please let club officials know as soon as possible.

As we learned in Donegal, the all-Ireland finals are a big step up and everyone that has qualified for the uneven ages in Cork needs to continue to apply themselves fully in training, at the club on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but especially in Belvedere this weekend.

The NCAA Cross Country Championship took place last Saturday morning at the Oklahoma University cross country course in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where the men competed over 10,000m. The large field of nearly 260 runners kept the pressure on right from the gun to make it a fast race.

In his second appearance at the NCAA Championships, Cormac Dalton was looking to improve on his 34th place finish in 2021. Building brilliantly on his excellent recent form of second place in the American Athletic Conference a month before and fourth place at the NCAA Midwest Region Cross Country two weeks ago, Cormac dug deep and, running a fast, aggressive race, he finished strongly in 29 minutes 16 seconds to take an excellent 15th place, leading the Tulsa team home to ninth place out of the 31 teams competing.

From a Mullingar perspective, Cormac was the second Irish man to finish and this performance puts him firmly in the frame for selection on the Irish senior men team at the European Cross Country in Turin, Italy in December.


Finally, the executive and members of Mullingar Harriers wish to express sincere sympathy to Lucy Heffernan and the entire Heffernan family on the recent death of her father, Edmond (Ed). May he rest in peace.


Check the club’s website at or their Facebook page for all the latest news.