Published on October 14th, 2019 | by nioa-sec


Ireland win the Judith Wingham Platter

The Ward Junior Home International took place over the 12 & 13 Oct 2019, with the individual race held in Cassy Water in the Mournes on the Sat and the relay race held in Donard Forest in Newcastle on the Sun. The Irish Junior Team comprised the following athletes:

  • M14 Daire O’Brien, Joshua Hoare, Oliver O’Kane, Oscar Rowe
  • M16 Cuan Riordan, Daniel Earnshaw, Eoghan Whelan, Liam Cotter
  • M18 Aidan Mc Cullough, Andrew Elwood, Darragh Hoare, Peter Reed
  • W14 Clodagh O’Donnell, Emily Rowe, Sinead Young, Zane Kramina
  • W16 Meadow Mc Cauley, Sinead Kearns, Catherine Joyce
  • W18 Aoife O’Sullivan, Cliodhna Donaghy, Jordan Pim, Rachel Collins

Friday night saw the team arrive from across Ireland to Greenhill YMCA in Donard Forest. Once they had all found their rooms and settled in a team briefing took place, at which the arrangements for the next day were set out. Key to success was the movement plan, which consisted of two separate minibus trips from Greenhill, at different times, to a car park and then a swap into three different minibus shuttle runs to the assembly area, all done according to specific start time blocks.

The team were up early the next morning, ate breakfast, gathered their kit and the first minibus departed at on time at 0815 to the shuttle bus RV point, followed by our second minibus contingent at 0900. Thanks must go to Billy Reed and Geoffrey Collins for driving the minibuses and agreeing to start an hour earlier than had originally been thought required.

The Saturday individual race took place on Cassy Water, an open, slopping and rough area of the Mournes intersected by a river, and consisting of deep heather and grass covering numerous bogs, streams, re-entrants and ditches. The going underfoot was rough and physically demanding but the weather and visibility was glorious for the time of year.  The courses were excellent, putting to test the core orienteering skills and abilities, as well as physical fitness, of the team. Every Irish athlete put in a valiant effort, with some particularly impressive placings, such as Joshua’s 4th place on the M14 course. There were also some great inter-Irish team competitions, such as the three M18s with finishing times separated by 60 seconds or so. Much thanks must go to Fiona and Brendan O’Brien, Geoffrey Collins, John McCullough, Billy Reed, and others, for looking after the team at the race, ensuring they got to their starts on time, were counted back in, stayed warm and fed and got back to Greenhill.

On return to Greenhill, and after dinner and individual prize giving, the team, along with the English, Scots and Welsh, headed to Bryansford GAC for a fantastic Ceilidh. After a quick refreshing soft drink on arrival all took to the dancing with enthusiasm and energy, putting in some impressive displays of footwork, including weaving and ducking in tight spaces – a useful skill it would transpire for Donard Wood on Sunday.

Sunday started with breakfast prior to a brief for the team and the issue of the relay bibs and SI Cards. This was followed by the demonstration of the starting process, which took place right outside the accommodation. The relay races then started at 0845 (women) and 0900 (men). Ireland entered four male and three female teams, with a fourth female ad hoc team availing of the support of a Welsh W16 to complete the team. Then the rain started and didn’t stop, getting progressively heavier as the morning progressed. Not that this stopped any of the competitors from digging in deep and racing hard in what was a competitive and  consequently noisy event.  All credit must go to the planner of the relay, Steph Pruzina (LVO), who magically generated superb courses that the teams loved in a forest that is, to be frank, not what it used to be by way of orienteering quality. It’s a testament to the quality of her planning that no athletes noticed that. Ireland had some great leg runs in the relay and managed to do enough on day 2 to retain the Judith Wingham Platter, preventing Wales from sneaking a lead in the final analysis. The relay was won by the Scots, as was the overall competition, although their competition with England was very tight with only a point between the two at the end of day 1. Congratulations to both those teams, who have some superb and talented people in their ranks.

The overall best Irish team member across both races was a challenge to work out, so close was the performance of a number of the team and it changed as several points as the results came in on Sunday. In the end Fiona O’Brien was able to confirm the award on Meadow McCauley who had a strong run on Sat and and stronger run on Sun, consistency that made all the difference in the end. Congratulations to Meadow!

Team Ireland would like to thank all those who made the weekend possible, especially the many organisers, planners, controllers and other helpers from LVO and other clubs that gave up their time and energies to put on a fantastic competition.

Also it would be good to mention that Ursula raised £180 for the NI Junior squad at the soup stall which is a fantastic effort, especially as there was a lot of uncertainty about space, power etc beforehand!

The results will appear at

About the Author

Stephen Gilmore is the Hon Secretary of NI Orienteering.

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