Tipperary athletes selected for the Irish team in the European Cross-Country Championships

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Sean Tobin

Sean Tobin winning National Senior 1500m title

Clonmel AC has enjoyed many special moments in its history since been established in 1971 but hopefully December 10th will also go down in the Club annuals as another historic event as we will have two club members representing Ireland at the European Senior Men’s Cross-Country Championships in Slovakia.

We must go back to 1989 when John Fitzgerald represented Ireland at the World Cross-Country Championships and to 2014 when Orlaith Moynihan represented Ireland at the European Junior Cross-Country Championships in Bulgaria as the only other Club members to represent Ireland at a Major Cross-Country Championships.

This is a fantastic honour for both men as it must be the pinnacle of an athlete’s career to represent their Country at a major Championship and both these athletes have come into the Sport from different paths. Both athletes have achieved so much in their careers to date, here is just a sample of their progress to date.

Sean Tobin has enjoyed a very successful athletics career to date. One of my first cuttings of Sean Tobin’s performances was at the County Juvenile Cross Country Championships held in Ballynonty on October 2004. The caption then read “In the Boys Under 11 race Sean Tobin put in a great performance to win Silver with a brilliant effort over the closing stages. Then we had James Murphy also putting in a great effort to finish 4th with Aaron Arrigan following him across the line in 5th place. Then we had Michael Carey also finishing strongly in 6th place and these four athletes combined very well to win Gold in the team award, a brilliant performance. They were ably backed up by some great performances from Conor Arrigan 20th, Evan Lynch 24th and Reece Maher 26th”. It is great to see some of these athletes still enjoying the Sport, 13 years later. Then a week late the action was held in Dunkerrin where in the Boys under 12 race I wrote “The Boys Under 12 race was another competitive race. Here Sean Tobin ran very well to win Bronze. He was closely followed across the line by Evan Hickey in 5th place with Aaron Arrigan finishing 7th. Then we had James Murphy running very well to finish 10th. Edmond Morrissey ran very well to finish 17th with Dean Mulcahy 25th and Jason Mullins 31st. This squad combined very well to win Gold and was duly crowned County Champions. Since then he has won many awards at County, Munster and National level at underage. His progression at Senior level has also been phenomenal. In 2012 he represented Ireland at the European Junior Men Cross Country Championships in Slovenia where he was the 2nd scorer on the Irish team when finishing 46th.
In January 2014 he was awarded a scholarship to Ole Miss and he made an immediate impact in only his 2nd race, by becoming the first College student to break 4 minutes for the mile when running 3 mins 59.91 secs. He also became the 39th and the youngest Irish athlete to achieve this honour. This year in Santry he became the first Club athlete to win a National Track and Field title under Athletics Ireland when he won the Senior 1500m title very impressively in 3 mins 57.18 secs. He then went back to America and on November 18th he ran the race of his life when finishing 12th in the All-American NCAA Cross Country Championships.

Kevin Maunsell came into the sport after enjoying a very good spell at playing local soccer. His father, Kevin who also had a very good athletic career with the Club, always spoke about his two young sons, Kevin and William, running the socks off him any time they went running and we always encouraged him to get them to join the Club. They did, and the first cutting of Kevin’s Club debut was at the County Novice Cross Country Championships at the Turnpike October 2011, when he was part of the Club’s first historic County Novice Club title under Athletic Ireland and the caption read “then we had Kevin Maunsell, putting in the performance of the day. Kevin was making his Championship debut for the Club and what a debut. Kevin started off steady in the chasing pack in 12th place. Then as the race unfolded, Kevin found his rhythm and soon got into his stride as he made great progress with every lap. He ran a brilliant last lap to finish 7th in 21 mins 55 secs”. Kevin along with Stephen Hunter, William Maunsell and Finbarr Horgan created that piece of Club history. From there on Kevin improved as the season progressed and in 2012 he won the County Senior Cross Country Champion in Goold’s Cross and along with Niall McCormack, William Maunsell and Paudie O Keeffe led the Club to our first County Senior Men Inter Club title under Athletics Ireland. The club notes then read “as the race unfolded Kevin Maunsell was running the proverbial blinder as he took up the pace right from the start and set a strong tempo that saw him move well clear of the chasing pack on the first lap. He was now full of running and he maintained this strong pace all the way to the line to be crowned County Senior Cross Country Champion for the very first time in a very convincing fashion in 35:15 and in so doing joins John Fitzgerald and Patrick Guidera as our only County Senior Men Cross Country Champions in the Club’s history.”
In 2013 he was 2nd in the Munster Senior Cross-Country Championships in Limerick Racecourse and then went on to run a brilliant race in the National Intermediate Cross-Country Championships in Derry when winning the Silver medal on his debut in these Championships. Then in November 2014 he competed in the National Senior Cross-Country Championships at Dundalk IT. The Club notes then read” then with about 800m to go he moved to the front and in a hectic surge for the line he edged out Brendan O Neill of Crusaders to finish a very creditable 4th in what was truly a magnificent performance and a brilliant achievement. This was by far a brilliant performance by Kevin who has shown fantastic progress in the last three years to reach this level. Kevin’s time was 31 mins 3 secs for the 10K race was only 23 seconds off the winner and defending Champion, Paul Pollack, brilliant performance. This performance earned him a place on the Irish team for the European Cross-Country Championships in Bulgaria, but he was unable to go due to injury. This didn’t deter Kevin and once he got over his injury he got back training and was soon putting in some more impressive performances. Earlier this year he ran a fantastic race in the National Senior 10,000m Track final when winning his first National Track and Field medal when capturing the Bronze medal in 29 mins 52.08 secs. He also has the honour of been the first Club athlete to win a National track medal for the Club under Athletics Ireland. Buoyed by this performance he set his sights on the Cross-Country season, winning the Munster Senior Cross-Country title impressively in Galbally in early November and then went on to run a fantastic race when finishing 5th at the National Senior Cross-Country Championships in Abbotstown last Sunday and earning his place on the Irish team for the upcoming European Cross-Country Championships.

Both Sean Tobin and Kevin Maunsell are a credit to their Sport, great ambassadors for Club, County and Country and I know everyone in Athletics wish them the very best on December 10th in Slovakia. Both men epitomising all that is good in our Sport.