Limerick AC won the coveted team title in emphatic style today with a fine display of running which saw them beat off their arch rivals West Limerick AC by a veritable mile. This was despite West Limerick AC hosting the event in a field unfit for cattle, and which some believed was a deliberate and strategic tactic to undermine the attempts of Limerick AC to win back the title. And the field was truly the stuff of lore with scant firm ground and plenty of ankle twisting divots. In fact there was so much mud that I can still taste it in my mouth, the mud under my finger nails will be sure to scare all the women away, and my mother will be giving me grief for months to come such is the state of the shower after me. West Limerick will be getting a handsome bill for a new shower unit, a Mira Elite electric shower will do fine lads. Upon entering the field and greeting team coach Will Logan, the smile said it all; the kind of smile that said “lads what did yee expect, you’re here to run cross country, not strut around like pansies around a running track!”.
Anyway, enough of that and let’s get back to the details of the race. On the team front it was always going to come down to a gritty battle between Limerick AC and West Limerick AC teams. Limerick AC had depth with 14 athletes taking to the line while West Limerick had home advantage. The individual title was deemed a forgone conclusion with Mike Carmody of An Bru the outstanding favourite with the rest of us trying to hang on to his coat-tails. True to form this was how it unfolded with Carmody “going out like the clappers” to quote the great Jerry Kiernan. Colm Turner of Limerick AC managed to stick with Carmody until half way in what was an argy bargy type of race but lost touch after that. Although the gap never grew beyond 70 or 80 metres and was closed down slightly by the end it was Carmody who took the title in a fine display of front running and well deserved. The man has true grit. In third place was Declan Moore of Bilboa AC and close behind was Paul Fitzgerald of Limerick AC in 4th. Paul put in a great performance which was a massive improvement on his run last year in the County Seniors. Niall O’Riordan 5th (West Limerick AC) put in a scintillating sprint finish to pip our own Mark Guerin (Limerick AC). Regardless, Mark really stepped up today and finally showed what a classy runner he is and will hopefully build on this performance to reach new heights we all know he’s capable of. Mike Mc Allen rounded out the team (four to score per team) for Limerick AC in what would turn out to be a resounding victory for Limerick AC – 21 points to West Limerick AC’s 41 points. Other notable performances worthy of mention came from Mark O Dwyer (5th man for Limerick AC) and Keith Daly (6th man for Limerick AC and right in behind Mark).
Every team member’s face conveyed the elation in winning the team title at the finish but our bodies told a different story. What was once a white Limerick AC singlet was now black with mud as if we’d been crawling through the notorious World War 1 trenches of the Somme. There’s an expectation that one will get dirty at cross county but this was beyond dirty, it wasn’t just a superficial layer of mud, it was ingrained in the very core of our souls, I’ll be spitting and sneezing out mud for weeks. Limerick AC athlete Mike Lynch commented “we’d need Brillo pads and a jet wash to remove all the dirt”. Coach Logan – who bravely strode forth into the muddy quagmire to give his athletes immense support throughout the race – will unfortunately need a new pair of shoes for Christmas to say the least. As we completed each lap of the race I noticed Will was gradually sinking into the mud, just as well we all ran fast or else he would have been engulfed entirely by the muddy abyss, nothing short of a life buoy and a tractor pull would have rescued him then.
For the athletes it was a quick wash in the local milking parlour to wash off and then back to the Silver Dollar pub for the awards ceremony. It was right at that moment when team mascot Vinnie O’Brien lifted the trophy that all the hard work put in by Coach Logan and the athletes on all those Saturday morning sessions struck home. Limerick AC are Limerick Senior Champions once again and truth be told the Trophy looks more splendid and shines that little bit brighter on a Limerick AC mantelpiece!