Sean Hehir and Shona Heaslip took the senior individual crowns as Galway shone on home turf to win the county titles at the GloHealth Inter County Cross Country Championships at the Palace Grounds in Tuam today.
Rathfarnham’s Hehir won the men’s 10,000m in a time of 34:32, with local favourite Gary Thornton of the Galway City Harriers second in 34:50. Brian McMahon (Clonliffe Harriers) was third for Cork in 36:18.
Hehir, the national marathon champion, was thrilled with the win and in doing so replicated his childhood hero Seamus Power who won a record nine Inter County titles.
“I’m absolutely delighted to pull off the victory,” said Clare man Hehir, who has an Olympic qualifying time for the marathon but will need to run faster to make the plane for Rio.
“Seamus Power won nine titles and he was a boyhood hero of mine so I’m thrilled. I have to decide now between the Paris and London marathon in April.”
It was Hehir’s second national cross country crown, having won the intermediate title in 2009.
Gary Thornton had the consolation of leading Galway to the Inter County title – their first title in 30 years in an event that has been dominated by Dublin.
The evergreen Pauric McKinney (Inishowen) was running his 26th Inter County Championships in a row and he helped Donegal to the silver medals.
Shona Heaslip (An Riocht/Kerry) dominated the women’s 8,000m race in 32:53 to head Laura Shaughnessy (DSD/Galway) who was second in 33:07, with Sara Doohan (Corran/Sligo) continuing her upward curve in third in 33:25.
Galway made it a double in the senior races by taking the team prize with 25 points – just two points ahead of Kerry.
The four-race card programme got underway with the junior women's 4,000m, which was won by DSD/Dublin’s Eimear Fitzpatrick in 16:25. Lauren Dermody (Castlecomber/Kilkenny) was second in 16:55, with Aisling Joyce (Claremorris/Mayo) third in 17:22. Joyce led Mayo to the junior title with Galway second.
Darren Ryan (Lusk/Dublin) had his best win to date in the junior men's 6,000m in 22:29, with William Hynes (Swinford/Mayo) second in 22:51 and Joseph Tannian (Galway City Harriers/Galway) third in 22:53. Mayo won the team title ahead of Galway by six points – 42 to 48.