Junior Home Internationals '21
NI Junior Coach Steph Pruzina writes… A surprisingly strong squad emerged from the enforced hibernation of lock down and we fielded a team of 21 young athletes to travel to the SLOW organised event near Guildford on 9-10 October. Luxurious accommodation was provided by PGL outdoor activity centre and the Individual event at the Devil’s Punchbowl was planned to have a fiendishly steep finish up to the Centre’s woodland. It was great to have a full complement of W14s and a particularly strong performance from Fionnuala Rowe who finished in 6th, and also from older sister, Emily who came 8th in the W16 race. Our own Meadow McCauley led the Irish field at W18 and we are sorry to say goodbye to her from the squad.
By all accounts the terrain was very tough, and not your typical southern forest. There was hard running through thick undergrowth and several very steep climbs so our M18s had a tough outing, but again performed well with a 6th and 8th pace for Eoghan Whelan and Liam Cotter, and a respectable time in 11th for our own Dan Earnshaw. This is also his last JHI and we wish him every success and lots more orienteering opportunities in his university career. At M16, NIOA was well represented, and the Irish boys finished in consecutive places with Josh leading the pack and Oliver, Dan and Ben, all LVO, reasonably consistent but showing how physical the terrain was.
Highlight of the weekend had to be Gerry Browne’s performance winning 3rd place in the M14 race. He followed this with such a blistering relay leg that his 3rd leg runner (nameless) wasn’t quite ready for the handover. There was no question about who should be awarded the shield for Best Irish Performance. Well done Gerry!
The relay on Bramshott Common provided some fast running and unfortunately a confusing control with a mis- number. Despite this all our teams finished error-free giving us a comfortable lead over a diminished Welsh team and we took home the Judith Wingham Trophy again.
Many thanks go to the parents who travelled with the team and especially to Eoin who lent his O-shoes to Ben whose bag stayed in Gatwick for the weekend. Also of course thanks to SLOW for putting on a great event and particularly Mathias and Abi who co-ordinated the weekend.
One final learning point…we might need to recruit some musical talent for next year. If we can’t beat the Scots at O maybe we can out-sing them!