Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Is there a problem with Cross Country in Ireland???

Monday, November 24, 2014

Is there a problem with Cross Country in Ireland???

The National Inter-County Cross Country Championships were held in Dundalk on Sunday the 23rd of November 2014. See previous post. On the face of it, there were some excellent performances but when you looks at some of the stats, some issues are raised.

See chart below...this is the number of athletes entered and taking part from each of the counties in Munster. Also note that for a county team to score, 6 men or 4 women were needed.

Cork....There were some superb performances from some of the Cork athletes. Michelle Finn and Mark Hanrahan finished second in their respective races and qualified for the Irish team for the European Cross Country Championships next month. There was a big turnout from the mens teams... 15 men entered while 10 actually took part. Two others not on the Cork team but from Cork clubs also ran. The Cork team took silver on the day which was a big success for the county.

However, only 5 women were entered on the Cork team. On the day, only 3 ran so they couldn't score as a team. Cork is the second largest county in terms of registered athletes and has a dedicated cross country course near Riverstick, possibly the only one in the country. And yet the county couldn't field a full womens team?!?! Why wasn't a larger womens team entered?

Kerry....In numerical terms, Kerry is small yet the womens team took silver which was a fantastic performance. Not only that but two of their athletes Laura Crowe and Shona Heaslip will now represent Ireland at senior and U23 level. However, there was no mens team.

Limerick.....Zero and zero. No men or women from Limerick which is supposed to be the sporting capital of Ireland.

Waterford.....No teams. Just two individuals representing their clubs.

Tipperary.....12 men were entered and 7 took part. The Tipperary mens team finished 5th. On the womens side, Siobhan O'Doherty who is the best distance runner in the county finished an impressive 5th. However, again no womens team.

Clare.....In terms of entering teams, Clare were one of the best. They entered 15 men and 8 ran. They entered 8 women and 5 ran.

This was a feature not only confined to teams from Munster. For example, the winner of the womens race was Fionnuala Britton yet there was no womens team from Wicklow. If you look at the mens race, only 12 counties scored while only 7 counties scored in the womens race.

A lot of this is of course not down to individual athletes but the respective athletic boards in each county. If an individual can't make it on the day then a replacement should be found. As for the original question...."Is there a problem with Cross Country in Ireland?"...then I'd suggest there is. If only 7 out of 32 counties can field teams for the womens Inter-County competition then something is wrong.


Keith S said...

When you write it down as you have John the situation is disastrous and you are 100% correct, question is how will it be rectified to bring XC running back to the platform it deserves.

Rgds K.

Anonymous said...

Great article john, going by those figures ireland has big problem with xcountry. Some elite missing from both men and womens races, even though there was some brilliant individual performances from Mark Hanrahan, Michelle Finn and Laura Crowe.

Anonymous said...

We have the same problems in our club. We managed to get mens teams to most events in Cork this year but never a womens team. One of the problems is people willing to commit a week in advance and not able to replace named members. Not sure how to rectify this

Anonymous said...

a couple of points on this:

1 - the idea of running in wet,mud etc... puts women off hard enough to get them into the sport

2 - teams will only travel if they have a chance of medalling hence no Kerry or Limerick mens teams ( along way to travel for no return when you can compete in a local event )

3 - also not a mention on any RTE sports news sunday night of the top 3 in both male and female events. You talk about county boards failing, AAI need to pull the finger out and work on promoting and advertising our national event. They even gave away the National HM to a company who are commercial and the AAI take a cut out of the profits on what was not a friendly course for a national event (Shame on RTE - But they will jump on the band waggon when the European cross comes around. As they pick it up from the host county)

4 - cross country team events are seen as an event for top elite runners. so you will never get the 200+ people taking part like you do in local road races.

Anonymous said...

1. Cork funded hotels for their county team athletes, not sure if limerick etc were offering this

2. Well done Mark Hanrahan!! What a run!

3. no mention on the RTE news was shocking!

Anonymous said...

Just in relation to Cork having its own cross country course purchased by the County Board. Is there any point having this facility when it seems to be locked up 364 days of the year and even on the day of the cross country competition they started taking down the course as the last person was completing the course.

Maybe if this was opened up to more people and clubs were encouraged to use it throughout the year, it would give people a chance, under no pressure to experience cross country running and might attract more people to take up this running. Maybe also there could be more cross country races run under the BHAA model so as to give as many people as possible a chance to get prizes/ reward out of it.

It just seems wrong to have such a great facility as this in Riverstick lying idle most of the year when there is concern about this aspect of the sport.

Anonymous said...

Only 5 ladies from the largest county in the country entered!!? and only 3 ran on the day! This coupled with the last comment suggests that some people have their own priorities! What about running for your team/county!!

Anonymous said...

I think the adult races should be on first as there's a great atmosphere with so many kids, parents and coaches in the morning. By the time the adults race starts most of the people are gone home.

Haille said...

Well done to Clare

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last comment, the adults races should definitely be held first. It is always dissapointing to see how few spectators stick around to watch the senior races once the juveniles are finished.

John Desmond said...

It's true that some counties won't participate but Cork is graded 'A' i.e. top grade. It's the responsibility of the County Board of each county to field a team, it's not the fault of RTE or the national association.

Anonymous said...

It really doesn't read well,when the facts are laid out like that.The fact that so many counties failed to field teams in both men's and women's categories only 12 and 7 respectively,shows that the AAI have a major job on their hands trying to convert the increasing numbers attending road races to give x-country a try. Personally I think schools should be targeted as well as some aggressive persuasive PR

Anonymous said...

Not sure if anyone was blaming rte? Maybe just complaining about coverage.

Anonymous said...

I agree PR so that includes RTE and the AAI John, they also have a big role to play. also you cannot force counties to enter a team if the athletes in the county who are considered the top athletes within the county have no interest what so ever in cross country, but rather run in very low key local road races. athletics has been diluted mass numbers but poor times

Anonymous said...

Hi John, I agree with the comments on Riverstick field

Why is it locked up 364 days of the year. More cross country races in Cork would give people a chance, under no pressure to experience cross country running and might attract more people to take up this running.

What about a winter cross country league or series in Riverstick over the winter?

John Desmond said...

Ref the facility in Riverstick....From what I understand, it is rented out to a farmer for most of the year so it's only available at certain times. Clubs can get access and get a key but they have to give advance notification of each time they want to use it.

Anonymous said...

Was a mistake made in womens results because a St. Finbarr's athlete is marked down for 'Kerry B' team? If it was marked as 'Cork A' team, Cork would have taken bronze medal?

John Desmond said...

One of the St.Finbarr's athletes is from Co.Kerry and represents that county.

Anonymous said...

As a lover and a long time follower of athletics I was very disappointed at the performances of the senior races last Sunday in Dundalk. take out the top individuals and what you were left with were all masters????? . The question should be asked where have our juniors and u23 gone. Where are all the road runners maybe the answer is the money!!!!! My suggestion would be run all senior races together novice intermediate master and senior divide results . what I saw last weekend was that mixture. in the senior ladies it was worse again only for the top ladies the rest were a different level. well done to Kerry for putting out a ladies team cork had 5 but one dropped out. Also to be fair to cork athletics they do help out with a few bob. To try and keep juniors in the sport is the hardest job in all clubs. recently I spoke to a few u17/18 yrs old and asked why did they gave up the sport been in the sport since they were 8, exams, days to long at track and field ,competition got to serious maybe a junior team competition like the national league would be the answer.