Rás na hÉireann 2009
The Rás celebrated its 40th birthday on Sunday 22nd February 2009. The event was kindly sponsored by Drogheda Beverage Solutions and supported by the Irish Sports Council, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the OPW, with local sponsors assisting financially once again, helping to ease the burden of hosting such a high class event.
Founded in 1970 in Dunleer, this race has elevated to become one of the top International cross country events on the calendar. To date 43 countries have competed, the only International cross country event held annually in Ireland. For the 40th celebration the Rás had a surprise for the people of Louth, with the participation of Keith Kelly, announced at the press conference in early February.
Some people might remember that first day in January 1970 when over 50 senior competitors marched from the Parochial Hall to the famous Athclare castle course owned by the Sloan family. The race was won by local man Micky Johnston from 3 time winner Willie Keane from Clare. A few names still associated with the Rás are élite athlete co-
Our thanks must go to all the sponsors who have supported the event over the years which is now part sponsored by the Irish Sports Council and supported by former world cross country champion John Treacy.
The programme on February 22nd catered for juveniles under 9 to 19 years, junior, senior and masters. The first race was at 12 noon with a presentation before the International ladies' race. The starter was Tom Neary, who we welcomed back after his illness last year.
The people of Dunleer had plenty to cheer about with some of the Club's top names in Ireland competing, including the boys who won the silver medals in the All Ireland under 16 and 17 cross country with names like Dunne, Goring and Farrell all in action and Tomás Cotter who warmed up the crowd in Termonfeckin last year. County Novice, Intermediate and Senior Champion Martin Quinn and team mate Darragh Greene faced the 6,000 metres as well as David Vaughey, Tomás Cotter, David Lambe. Sarah Haak, Catherine Byrne, Maeve Larney, Maria Mc Loughlin and Louise Hynes were in the junior ladies'. In the masters' men Micheál Mulligan was to the fore as ever and in the ladies' masters event world masters pentathlon Champion Geraldine Finegan was joined by Sandra Doheny and Belinda Breagy. The post Rás reception later in the evening featured Irish catering. The Rás committee wishes to thank all of the stewards who helped out on the day, numbering 50 in all: John Roche, the Mc Geough brothers, Mc Donnells, Howards, the Young and Kenwright families, Graham Townsend, the Butterlys, Sam Ojo, Paul Adeniyi, Rory Kirwan, Cillian Dyas, Mary and Colm O Brien, the Reid family, the Halpenny family, the Cheshire and Breagy families, the Haak family, Declan Mc Kenna, Gerry Reynolds, Joyce Kelly, Aileen Carrie, the Jein family, the Sewell family, Margaret and Derek Stewart and others who helped out along the way.