Finn Valley Stranorlar was the testing venue for the Ulster Uneven Age Cross Country event held on Saturday.

While the day was dry, the ground was anything but, particularly the lower end of the course which was muddy and waterlogged. In fact, when runners turned into the field some parents were worried if their angels would return through the floods! The 18 ERC juniors raced bravely through the waterlogged field, and all reported home safely afterwards.

The U13 race comprised of two 1k laps and Kate Kelly was placed in the top three for most of the contest running bravely throughout. Kate narrowly missed out on bronze to a North Belfast Harriers girl who caught her on the home straight. She still won an individual medal and a place on the Ulster team at the All Irelands. Her teammates in the green vests, many of whom were experiencing cross country for the first time, packed well but narrowly missed out on qualification. There were 110 finishers in the race. The experience will stand them in good stead for upcoming schools’ races.

The U15 Enniskillen girls competed and packed well, with Annabelle McKenzie top finisher in 15th out of 85, closely followed by Megan Mulally, Orlaith Kely running with one spike, Ava Hennessy, Eve Cox and Beth Buchanan. Their combined scores were enough for a bronze Ulster medal and all six managed to garner sufficient points for a bronze county medal to represent Fermanagh in the All Irelands to be held at Navan racecourse. Tiernan McManus was the sole Fermanagh runner in the U17 boy’s race. He can be satisfied with his early season top 20 finish.

Jamie McDonnell and Frank Buchanan were competing out of age in the U19 men’s race over a gruelling 6k distance. Both lads were amongst the lead group for most of the race. Frank made a burst for home but miscalculated the distance and was caught. The more cautious approach by McDonnell paid dividends as he came home in sixth, winning an individual medal and safely booking his place on the Ulster team for the All-Irelands in Meath. Both Fermanagh men have another year at this age group and will have seen how the winner from Tir Connell/ UCD AC has patiently built up to get to this level.