BY KIERAN McCARTHY
REIGNING West Cork Youth Sports Star Darragh McElhinney showed more of the form that won him the top accolade in January as he added the intermediate title at the Irish Life Health All-Ireland Schools’ Cross-Country Championships to his already impressive CV.
The Glengarriff teenager (16) was in sublime form as he eased to an emphatic win in his intermediate boys’ race over 5,200 metres at Mallusk on Saturday,
His turn of pace up the back hill on the second lap left his rivals trailing in his wake and he built a commanding 30-metre lead in less than ten seconds. The Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí student coasted home to victory in 20.07, well ahead of Connacht’s Keelan Kilrehill in second place (20.34).
Darragh will now go forward and compete in the schools’ international cross-country championships in Wales on March 25th; that will be his final cross-country race of the season.
His coach Steven Macklin feels the talented West Cork athlete is in with a good chance of winning in Wales.
‘He’s in great form, training has gone extremely well and he’s been healthy which is always key. He’s in a great place to do it but as always the UK athletes are extremely strong so we’ll see,’ Macklin said.
Following the event in Wales, Darragh will fly out to Portugal for a training camp from April 11th – 20th before the track season starts in May.
His big target is to qualify in the 1500m for the European U20 Athletics Championships in Italy in July. Darragh needs to run under the qualifying standard of three minutes and 52 seconds twice before Saturday, July 1st. His 1500m personal best from last summer is 3.54, so as long as he stays fit and healthy, he has a very good chance of achieving the qualifying standard.