“Belvedere have arrived” or so I was told on a few occasions by Coaches from Cross Country powerhouses across Leinster and truth be told it was the first time myself or Mr O Shea felt that our teams were in the mix across all age groups.

188 schools are affiliated to the Leinster Schools Assocation, to even qualify for the Leinster Championships your team must be in the top 6 percent. Belvedere qualified out of our zone in all four age categories. An even tougher task awaits you at Leinster where your team must be in the top 1.6 percent to qualify. To make this even more difficult, the Leinster Schools is regarded as the toughest of all the provinces and plans are already underway to divide the province in two due to the large population.

In the Minor event, our first years went in as rank outsiders and ran way above form to finish a surprising 6th. When you consider this team only finished 3rd at West Leinster level, it was a fantastic run. John Cleary was first man home in 25th place just ten shy of individual qualification.

In the Juniors, there was a definite sense of despair as Ben Guiden, our best finisher at zone level was sick and unable to run. This team had trained all year for this event but still retained some hope of qualification. They warmed up and got into a huddle and amazingly for a group of 13/14 year olds decided between themselves that if everyone on the team ran above their form and gained 5 places each, we could make up for the loss of Ben. A storming run from Michael Murphy to finish in 11th set the team up with Michael McHugh and Diarmuid Breslin consolidating our score. The fourth man on a team is vital, a poor run from your fourth man and your team is dead in the water.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man as Sam Kelly came through in 32nd place closely followed by Daniel Byrne, David Kearney and Sam Feely. A long wait ensued but the lads had finished 3rd. They had survived and advanced to the next round on March 7th, the first Belvedere team since 2010 to qualify.

After that excitement the Intermediates had a tough act to follow but they competed gamely and finished a very promising 5th. As a team that was shaken badly by injuries and sickness to our club athletes pre-Christmas, it was a solid performance and they will certainly be looking to qualify next year. Eoghan O’ Dwyer was our first man home.

Our Senior boys had been compromised from early on with sickness and with the added hindrance of Mock exams our 6th years were for the most part unavailable. Fergus McCormack had an incredible run to qualify individually and finish 15th, the last and final spot.He ran himself so far into oxygen debt that he needed to visit the ambulance! A gutsy courageous performance and just reward for the effort he has put in.

Today was a stepping stone for us, we may have arrived at the top table but at the moment we are still fighting for scraps. Another year stronger, another year more committed and we will improve again but for now, our qualifiers go to Clongowes on March 7th.

Lots of help also on the day from: Elements: Oscair O luain and Gavin Farrell Rudiments: Eoin Killarney and Conor Nolan Grammar: Conor Donovan and Peter Harte and Eoghan Mulligan Syntax: Darragh Devilly.

Leinster Schools Cross Country

Belvedere College SJ

Minor Boys 6th team

John Cleary 25 Cathal Butler 28 Daragh Fagan 38 Tom Connolly 40 Daniel Stone 48 Darragh Moreau 55 Denis Smith 56 Cillian Forrester 60

Junior boys 3rd team

Michael Murphy 11 Michael McHugh 21 Diarmuid Breslin 24 Sam Kelly 32 Daniel Byrne 43 David Kearney 50 Luke Greene 73 Sam Feeley 83 (Ben Guiden)

Inter 5th team

Eoin O Dwyer 25 Brian Fay 31 Kevin Loftus 39 Ben Quinn 45 Aaron Murphy 49 Odhran O Connell 55 Ciaran Healan 64 David Boylan 70

Senior

Fergus McCormack 15 Peter Wade 66 Liam Smith 71 Ronan Beakey 75 Killian Harrison 79 Conor Tansey 80

Report from Athletics Ireland found here

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