BY MICHAEL O’LEARY
In more recent years Kilkenny Athletes have had medal success at The European Cross Country Championships, and this year Hannah Kehoe and Maebh Richardson from Kilkenny City Harriers Club will represent Ireland this coming Sunday in The Ladies U-20 race in Brussels, Belgium.
Both Athletes competed recently in The National Cross Country Championships in Gowran that were a qualifier for Sunday’s Europeans, and both girls performed very well with Maebh finishing 4th and Hannah in 6th position.
Maebh is based Stateside in The US where she is studying, while Hannah is from Borris in Carlow and has the experience of competing in last years Europeans in Turin, Italy where she finished 72nd.
Both Athletes are Coached by Maebh’s Mum Niamh Richardson who previously competed for Ireland at The World Cross Country Championships.
The Richardson family have previous experience of competing in The European Cross Country Championships, and with success also.
Maebh’s sister Aoibhe was part of The Ireland Team that won a Silver Medal at The 2019 European’s in Lisbon, Portugal when she finished a highly creditable 17th, while last year she helped The Ireland Team to a bronze medal.
There was further Kilkenny success at last years European’s with Shay McEvoy helping the Ireland Team to a bronze medal in The Mens U-23.
The National Championships in Gowran was the first time since 1984 that The National Seniors were held in County Kilkenny when Kilmacow hosted the event 39 years ago.
It was a memorable Nationals for Kilkenny City Harriers, as there were historic gold medals for both the Junior Ladies and Senior Mens who were both winning The Team events for the very first time in the National Senior Cross Country.
The Junior Ladies led by Maebh and Hannah won Team Gold giving the girls triple cause for celebration having also booked their ticket to Brussels on Sunday, while they also have a trip to Portugal to look forward to in February as the Kilkenny City Harriers reward for winning Team Gold is a place in The European Club Cross Country Championships.
The Senior Mens Team were also winning Team Gold in The National Seniors for the very first time, as very strong performances in particular from Peter Lynch, Eoin Everard, Cathal O’Reilly and long serving Brian Maher led the Harriers to The Gold Medal following a countback.
That was the first time since 1999 that a Club outside Dublin won The Senior Mens Team Gold Medal.
Having had their most successful Europeans last year with five medals, Ireland will be more than hopeful of adding to their medal collection this year in a Squad led by twice previous European Champion Fionnuala McCormack (nee Britton).
Wishing Hannah Kehoe and Maebh Richardson the very best as they will attempt to play a part in helping Ireland to a Team Medal in The U-20 race.