International Schools Cross Country Championships - Canon Slade School, Bolton, England - Saturday 22nd March 2014
Paddy Maher, representing Dunshaughlin Community College recorded a historic win in the Junior Boys race at the International Schools Cross Country Championships, held at Canon Slade High School, in Bolton, England. This was Paddy’s first time to wear an Irish Vest, having earned the right with his convincing win at the All Ireland Championships in Cork 2 weeks ago. The race pitted the top 8 runners from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales who had come through the various regional qualifiers to get to this elite level. Paddy has no fear and from the gun he went into the lead and pushed the pace over the tough Lancashire terrain and going out on the last lap of the 4,600 metres trip it was only the English champion Mathew Willis that was still with him.
The race was made more difficult for all with the sleet shower that was now falling and just before entering the wooded section Willis made a surge into the lead as Paddy tripped and fell but he quickly picked himself up and regained the lead. The very talented and highly fancied English lad went with him and with 300 metres remaining he moved up on Paddy’s shoulder again but another injection of pace from Paddy on the final hill got him 5 metres clear and he sprinted home for a fantastic win by 15 metres which was the first by an Irish athlete in this race for almost 20 years.
Paddy had also the honour of leading the Irish team to the silver medals as he dedicated his win to his late Uncle and Godfather Billy.
As with horses Paddy’s bloodline is good as his dad and coach Tommy represented Ireland 12 times, the first at Cardiff Castle in November 1988 and followed that up with 4 appearances at World Championships ( World Cross Country – Stavanger 1989 and Antwerp 1991, World Half Marathon – Newcastle 1992 and Brussels 1993).
It was a really good day for young Meath athletes as another Dunshaughlin Community College student Jarlath Jordan finished 20thin Paddy’s race and also picked up a team silver. Jarlath who competes with Tara AC has made great progress in the last 12 months and young St Peters Dunboyne student Nicola Duffy was an impressive 15th in the Junior Girls race. Nicola was capping off a great cross country season which saw her take the bronze medal in the National Championships in Santry last November and the Irish Schools in Cork”