Hopkins and Laadjel in superb All-Ireland Schools CC show

IT WAS a great day for Donore Harriers at the 51st installment of the All-Ireland Schools Cross Country Championships as Oliver Hopkins stormed to victory in the Junior Boys Race over 3.5km and Abdel Laadjel took the Intermediate crown.

The former- a St Declan’s student- who is coached by his father Graham, had six seconds to spare over runner-up Luighaidh Mallon of Rathmore Grammar School by the close of the contest while clubmate Thomas Bolton placed 39th.

Donores Abdel Laadjel Oliver Hopkins

Donore Harriers athletes Abdel Laadjel and Oliver Hopkins turned in brilliant performances at the All-Ireland Schools CC Championships

Abdel Laadjel, representing Kishoge Community School, produced an equally stunning performance to emerge victorious from a fierce field in the Intermediate Boys event.

After runner-up finishes in the West Leinster and Leinster qualifying races, Laadjel hit the front on the national stage as the race reached the 3.5km point.

He was in a front group of four that included the champions of Leinster, Munster and Ulster, but, heading into the final lap, the young Donore man moved to the front and stretched his lead to 30 metres by the finish line.

Hopkins and Laadjel have now been selected to represent Ireland at the Schools International Athletics Board (SIAB) Cross- Country Championships at Falkirk, Scotland on Saturday, March 21.

Louis O’Loughlin, contesting the Senior Boy’s race over 6km, tore into first place only to realise that he still had a lap to go- a mistake that cost him any chance of a medal.

The Moyle Park College student consequently slipped back to 10th position, before making a late rally that saw him make it back up to sixth place in which he crossed the line in a time of 19.16.

Elsewhere in the National Intervarsities CC Championships in Cork on Saturday, Matthieu Proffitt placed 22nd in the Men’s 8km Race and was a scoring member on the Trinity team that won bronze.

Louise Murray made a positive return after an injury lay-off, to place 32nd in the 4km Women’s race, helping Trinity College to team gold.

Meanwhile Emmet O’Briain, Niall Allen, Colm Dunne and Donal Iremonger finished among the medals in the  National Masters Indoor Championships at the Athlone Arena on Sunday.

The former took gold in the M40 800m, finishing well clear of John Whirskey (2.0862) of South Galway AC while Allen also scooped gold in the M45 Weight For Distance with a best effort measuring 6.39m before seeing his throw of 11.16m secure silver in the M45 Shot Putt.

Dunne won bronze in the M45 60m and was fourth in the 200m, while, in the M45 800m, Iremonger picked up bronze.

It was a Donore Harriers one-two in the Straffan 10km Road Race on Saturday as Eric Keogh took first place with Lee Van Haeften runner-up.

In the Bohermeen Meath Sprint Half Marathon the following day, Barbara Cleary was the first woman home with more than a minute to spare over runner-up Sarah McMahon of DSDAC.

Her performance saw her finish 28th overall, convincingly winning the W45 category while Fergal Whitty emerged 11th overall and second in the M40 age-group.

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