Wales pip Ireland at JHI

In a closely contested weekend of orienteering, the Welsh team increased their overnight lead of 3 points to finish 8 points clear of Ireland at the Ward Junior Home International last weekend. The competition was staged over two days on the complex forested sand dunes of Newborough on the island of Anglesey in Wales.
This competition, for M and W 14, 16 and 18 classes, gives juniors a taste of top class international competition, and the team dealt with the pressure very well, under the expert eye of managers Greg McCann and Ruth Lynam.
Unusually for a sand dune area, the forest features a rocky ridge with plenty of crags and lots of steep hills. Access restrictions are easing somewhat, so that this superb area (used for the 2001 British Championships) may host some more events – and it’s only about 40 minutes from Holyhead!
Following podium positions for Cork’s Niamh Corbett and LVO’s Áine McCann, the Irish girls beat their Welsh counterparts in the individual race on Saturday for the first time. On Sunday, the Irish girls again finished ahead of the Welsh, but the Welsh boys picked up substantially more points than the Irish, spearheaded by Kristian Jones, who won the M18 class by more than 3 minutes.
After the first day the score stood with Scotland and England tied with 72 points apiece, Wales with 37 and Ireland with 34, so there was keen interest in the following day’s Relays. England’s strength in depth showed here, though, and the Sassanachs drew further away from the Scots to finish with 130 to Scotland’s 112 points.
As usual, the main competition was between Ireland and Wales: despite the Irish girls scoring 14 to Wales’ 6, the Welsh boys picked up 20 points to Ireland’s 6, leaving the score at Wales 63, Ireland 54, so Wales again took the coveted Judith Wingham Trophy.
Niamh Corbett’s 2nd place in W14 gave her the award for the best Irish performance.
The Irish team was: M14 Shane Hoare, Harry Millar, Jonathan Quinn; W14 Niamh Corbett, Clíona McCullough, Caoimhe O’Boyle, Jill Stephens; M16 Cillín Corbett, Eoin McCullough, Jack Millar, Mark Stephens; W16 Áine McCann, Deirdre Ryan, Andrea Stefkova; M18 Padraig Mulry, Kevin O’Boyle, Conor Short; W18 Laura Cox.
Jill, Caoimhe, Shane and Jonathan were being capped for the first time: a special mention to Jill and Caoimhe, who acquitted themselves very well, both running up a class.
Results are available on the Eryri Orienteers web site here. (“Eryri” is the Welsh word for what we call Snowdonia).
Next year’s event is at Perth in Scotland, probably on September 13/14th 2010.
Still on the topic of Juniors, Northern Ireland hosts the Junior Inter-Regional Championships this weekend: more than 250 M and W14, 16 and 18’s will converge on Slievenagore in the Mournes and on Belvoir Forest in Belfast for an Individual and Relay O-Fest for the eleven or so British O-Federation regions. This is the first time the event has been held outside England, Scotland and Wales, and will provide the competitors with a new orienteering challenge and the organisers with some practice in event logistics in advance of the Jan Kjellstrom events in the North at Easter 2011.

Ernie Lawrence
You may have seen the e-mail from Lindie Naughton informing us of the recent death of Ernie Lawrence. Ernie had been a teacher at Wilson’s Hospital school at Multyfarnham, Co.Westmeath where he was involved in canoeing, orienteering and adventure sports generally. He was very involved in the Leinster Schools’ Orienteering Association and was the man behine WHO (Wilson’s Hospital Orienteers) which featured notable orienteers like the Foley-Fisher family and Shane Lynch. May he reast in peace.

Orienteering in Ireland
Orienteering Ireland, Irish Sport HQ, Blanchardstown
D15 DY62, Ireland