Mar 18, 2024

Trinity Ladies Take Gold for the Fourth Time in Five Years with Two Individual Bronzes

The Trinity Ladies won the Irish University Cross Country Championships on Saturday, March 9th

Sophie Jackman and Ian Morrisson
Sinéad Baker for The University Times

The Trinity Ladies have done it again! For the fourth time in five years Trinity Ladies have won the Irish University Cross Country Championships on a testing cross country course in Belfast on Saturday, March 9th. Two individual bronze medals were won by Celine Gavin and Pierre Murchan, with the men’s team claiming a competitive 6th place result. This ensured that Trinity finished in the top three colleges in the country overall, making it a thrilling day for DUHAC.

The winning team of Celine Gavin, Sophie Jackman, Evelyn Coughlan, and Joanne Loftus impressively recaptured ‘The Cheetahs’.This trophy for ladies champions is especially dear to College as it was commissioned by the legendary Professor Cyril Smyth, long time President of the club and organiser of Irish University athletics, as well as a legend of Trinity Sport and Irish athletics in general. Trinity’s dominance in recent years has been a testament to a vibrant student led club which emphasises inclusivity, and regularly attends IUAA competitions with the highest number of participants,which was once again the case this year. The ladies had significant strength in depth with Captain Karen Hayes, Juno Feeney and Moya Whelan finishing within striking distance of the scorers, ensuring that Trinity were always going to finish in the medal positions were anything disastrous to happen to their front four scorers. They eventually finished 24th, 25th and 26th respectively. On the day, it was a battle between Trinity and the three other college teams who were favourites in the fight for medals: DCU, UCD and UCC.

The ladies race saw the Trinity team position themselves well from the gun, with Gavin and Jackman getting up with the first group, and Coughlan and Loftus holding back. The five kilometre distance was composed of three laps around a testing course with some very heavy sections, one significant hill and other areas of harder path-like terrain. A group of seven distance specialists broke away on the first lap and Gavin, a former IUAA cross country silver medal winner, featured in the mix amongst three DCU, two UCD and one QUB athlete. Jackman, a middle-distance track specialist, was locked in a battle within the second leading group composed of other well known track athletes. Coughlan got herself into a comfortable top 20 position and Loftus was behind, gradually pulling in athletes one by one. DCU were in pole position for the team prize, with UCD in second place, also ahead of TCD after lap one, but the course and conditions were such that misjudgment of pace and effort could be telling. 


Lap two saw the front group whittle down further with Gavin falling back slightly. However, as lap three started, it was clear she was regaining momentum as the  2 UCD athletes started to fall back, with Roise Roberts of DCU, the favourite, pushing the pace on. Gavin was to come through comfortably and move on to third position with an impressive final lap – overcoming both UCD athletes and finishing behind Roberts and Hannah Gilliand from Queens. DCU’s second athlete Amy Greene already under pressure pulled up with calf injury and could not continue despite visible efforts to run through the pain which left the gold medal up for grabs between UCD and Trinity. UCD had an advantage of one point over Trinity going onto the final lap, which College looked to overturn, with both Coughlan and Loftus moving past the UCD forth scorer. Jackman was neck in neck with track rival Susie Nestor from UCD, and the two exchanged places several times. This battle ultimately brought both of them past the second UCD scorer with 200m to go. In an astonishing finish at the end of a 5km cross-country, Jackman sprinted past Susie, beating both UCD rivals to the line. This ensured TCDs overturning of the UCD lead, and the day belonged to the TCD women once again as they finished 3rd, 6th, 11th, 14th. They turned a 1-point deficit on UCD into a 5-point win with superb execution of pace judgement and perfect timing of supreme effort.

The men’s race saw a huge field of over 120 athletes go into battle. Pierre Murchan, returning from injury, showed his remarkable class by being at the head of proceedings from the gun. When the main move was made by Niall Murphy of UL in the third of five, one mile loops, Pierre measured his effort superbly to point where he was only seven seconds off the winner at the end, and was quietly disappointed that he did not have another 300-400m to race. Stephen Cashin and Oisin McKinley both potentially in their final year of Varsity athletics were 14th and 40th respectively and led the men’s team of six to score a creditable sixth in a very evenly matched team event. Trinity finished third again in the overall combined competition maintaining their podium position for the seventh consecutive year. 

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