Drogheda & District’s Liam Mulligan comes of age at the National Championships
THE willingness to step outside one’s comfort zone and embrace the discomfort that comes from stepping up several levels is what often separates a good club runner from a potentially class athlete.
o it was at Sunday’s National U23 and Senior Cross-Country Championships which were held at Rosapenna Golf Club, in Downings, Donegal.
As the Starter called the athletes to the line for the U23 Men’s 10k, which was run with the Senior Men’s event, young Drogheda & District AC man Liam Mulligan was really stepping up in class as he stood alongside some sub four-minute milers and athletes who had run close to 28 minutes for this distance at European Championship level.
Any lapse in concentration at this level usually results in a gap opening which cannot be recovered, such is the intense nature of this much revered race.
Mulligan, however, is blessed with a cool head and he quickly settled in on the first of this seven-lap race, with the ground in surprisingly good shape, which pleased the large field of quality athletes.
Over the mid-section of the race Mulligan had worked his way through the field to get himself up to 10th place in the U23 category and things were going well.
The last lap of this race has seen many changes over previous years, as some athletes have an uncanny ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, while others implode under the pressure of what they might achieve.
Mulligan, who’s well coached by Ian O’Reilly, was well prepared mentally for this test and he held good form over the all-important run-in to the finish, to hold onto that 10th place and also finish 29th overall in the Senior race.
This was a magnificent achievement, given the standard of athletics in Ireland at the present time.
And given that Mulligan, who’s a sub 15-minute 5K runner, still has another three years eligibility in the U23 category, he’s a name to watch out for at the highest level.
Also running in Rosapenna, in the National Even-Age CC Championships, were some of Drogheda & District’s juvenile athletes who were selected on their respective county teams.
All four – Seamie Sheridan, Mary Kate Eustace, Ciara O’Connor and Christian Kelly – gave it their all for their county and finished well up the field, but more importantly they gained a valuable insight into what championship racing is all about.
Closer to home, some D&D athletes were in action at Saturday’s Annagassan Viking 10k road race.
This popular race, which continues to grow in numbers, has been a happy hunting ground for the club in the past, and last weekend was no exception.
Yasmin Canning showed how well she’s benefited from her Dublin Marathon training when taking a first-in-category prize in her F50 section in an eye-opening 40:26.
Likewise, Robbie Keane poured on the pace over the last mile to take the honours in his M40 category in a fast 33:34, and its quicker he’s getting as the season progresses.
Also running well was Paul Reilly, who went so close to dipping under the 39-minute mark when finishing strongly in 39:08, which placed him third in category.
Others who ran well were Carmel Keenan (43:46), Eimear Knowles (44:23) and Barbara Byrne 45:07.
Drogheda & District AC would like to congratulate all their athletes who were nominated for an award at the Louth County Board Awards Night, which took place last Friday evening in Dundalk.
Pat O’Grady was presented with the Louth Masters Athlete of the Year award.