Irish Universities Road Relay Championships

AIT’s endurance athletes pulled off a significant coup last weekend (23rd Nov) when picking up silver medals at the prestigious and highly competitive Irish Universities Road Relay Championships held on the old south campus of NUI Maynooth.  This is an annual event which has been characterised in recent years by the incredible depth of talent ondisplay. Indeed it has become a roll-call of Ireland’s up and coming elite distance runners.  This year’s event was billed in some quarters as a two-horse-race between UCD and DCU, but the athletes of Athlone IT were quietly confident of their ability to shake up the old order.

Liam Brady led off for AIT on the first leg over 1 mile and put in a stormer of a performance, despite being a longer distance specialist, finishing within seconds of the leaders.  Liam’s effort set up our 2nd athlete, reigning Irish senior 1500m champion Eoin Everard, who ran the fastest 2 mile leg of the day and put AIT in pole position.  John Travers, recently named on the Irish u23 team for the European Cross Country championships, took over on the 3rd leg over 3 miles and put in his best performance ever at these championships, taking 15 seconds out of UCD’s Joe Sweeney – Irelands highest ever male finisher at the European CC championships. It took an incredible record-breaking leg from David McCarthy of DCU to put some daylight between DCU and AIT which DCU maintained to the finish despite big performances from AIT’s Darragh Rennicks on the 2nd 2 mile leg and Vinny Connolly on the final 1 mile leg.  Vinny had a 10 second lead to protect from the chasing UCD, but with Irish junior 800m record holder Mark English chasing him down this was not a done deal.  Vinny was up to the task though and held off one of the brightest MD talents this country has ever seen to seal the silver medals, AIT’s first at this level.

There was also superb performance from AIT men’s 2nd team (Martin Nolan, Kevin Nolan, Cathal McCarron, Chris Malone, Mark Donegan) and from the ladies team (Aoife Hogan, Regina Dolan, Roisin Howley, Carolyn Somorowsky) as well as strong individual performances from Daniele Menoni, Osi Ugonuh, and CJ Isayas.  These performances made a big statement on the national stage about the future of AIT athletics which aspires to compete at this level for the foreseeable future.

Men’s top 3 teams

1 DCU (Darren McBrearty, John Coghlan, David McCarthy, Darragh Greene, Joe Warne)
2 AIT (Liam Brady, Eoin Everard, John Travers, Darragh Rennicks, VinnyConnolly)
3 UCD (Karl Griffin, Ruairi Finnegan, Joe Sweeney, Richard Owens, Mark English)