Sarah Healy celebrates her victory. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Sarah Healy (Holy Child Killiney) and Efrem Gidey (Le Cheile Tyrellstown) showed their class to retain their titles at the Irish Life Health All Ireland Schools Cross Country Championships in the picturesque setting of Clongowes Wood College last Saturday.

Healy won her sixth cross country title in-a-row and did so in some style over 2,500m in the senior girls’ race while Efrem Gidey was equally impressive in the senior boys’ 6,000m.

Healy had clear daylight from Lucy Holmes (Ard Scoil na nDeise, Dungarvan) in second who just held off Laura Nicholson (Bandon GS) in third.

Close finishes were the order of the day in the 8-race-card programme. It was a good day for Waterford in the senior girls’ with St Angela’s winning the team title from Ballymena Academy and Ard Scoil na nDeise in third.

This kept the team prize in the county with Waterpark having won last year.

The senior boys’ were packed together in the early stages but it was all over for the gold when Efrem Gidey making his move.

He was a popular winner as he dished out the high fives in the finishing straight. Keelan Kilrehill (Colaiste na Iascaigh) was a clear second with Miceal McCaul (St Colman’s, Newry) third.

McCaul was third in the intermediate age group last year and had the added bonus of steering St Colman’s, Newry to the team title in an exciting team battle. Belvedere College were second with St Kieran’s College Kilkenny third.

The senior boys’ team title looks like the most challenging prize to win with Belvedere College, St Kieran’s Kilkenny, St Colman’s Newry and St Malachy’s in the hunt.

The underfoot conditions were superb in Clane and the flat course saw some fast running.

The first winner of the day was Erinn Leavy (St Vincent’s Dundalk) in the minor girls’ 2,000m.

She did much of the running throughout with a sea of fast finishers coming in very close behind her.

Hollie Kilroe (Mercy Roscommon) swept in for second with Gara Williams (Castleknock CC) third.

Williams also led Castleknock CC to the team title from Dominican College Wicklow in second and Colaiste Mhuire Ennis in third.