The Greatest Cracker of Them All?


Photo courtesy of Mal McCann

Oh yes it was, oh no it wasn’t – pantomime season it is and after the heavy indulgences of Christmas and Boxing Days, the throngs descended on Castlewellan to run off some of the Christmas excess. The venue as ever was Castlewellan GAC – warm hospitality extended in all corners of the club, including music and imbibing promised to the wee small hours. To cater for the extra participants, temporary portaloos were trucked in and money was put in the meter to ensure that there was warm water in the showers to clean off the caked mud – was it just mud? Continue reading

Christmas Cracker Preview – Bigger and better than ever

A preview of the 33rd Castlewellan Christmas Cracker race by Bogusboy

mathers-and-mcneillyIt’s selling out as fast as Guns n Roses at Slane! Additional places were added to the record 426 that took the line last year. At present there are just over 580 teams registered and with the limit set at 600, the event is sure to sell out – probably before this article hits the newsstands. Once again a record number of teams will take to the start for the 33rd Castlewellan Christmas Cracker pairs’ race on Tuesday 27th December. The market town will be awash with colour as 1200 competitors, many of whom will ‘dress for the occasion’, take to the streets. Ciaran Og Mussen in reducing the pressure on himself by agreeing to run in fancy dress, ‘sure they don’t expect you to win if you look daft’! This year it will as an elf, next year, who knows!!! The race has grown exponentially since it was taken over by Newcastle AC and relocated to Castlewellan in the early ‘noughties’ and remains one of the most unique and popular races in the annual ANI calendar. Building on the success of previous years, there are more mixed teams and more all-female teams. I recall clearly the 2004 race when there were 54 teams finishing. This stands as irrefutable evidence of the amazing popularity of running at present and the desire among athletes of all abilities to get out there and compete. For some it will be to win a category or record a fast time, while for others it will be the joy of finishing and the sense of accomplishment that comes from simply being able to say, ‘I did it.’ Continue reading

Newcastle & District AC Top of the League for Christmas

15 Unlikely Lads

15 Unlikely Lads

“At last the monkey is off my back” said Newcastle & District AC’s cross-country captain David O’Flaherty after victory at the North West Cross-Country in the Gransha Grounds in Derry. Having taken over the captaincy for this season from David McNeilly, O’Flaherty had led his team to 2nd place at each of the Bobby Rea Memorial (Rostrevor), Comber Cup (Dundonald) and Malcolm Cup (Ballyclare) but finally it was victory and a sweet one at that, over the hosting club City of Derry Spartans. Continue reading

Junior Christmas News

Does your child have a Bryansford GAC top? We think someone took Anna Lucia Barbour’s top home from training a couple of weeks ago by mistake and that Anna has their top! The top Anna has at home appears to have a name on it that looks like “Ryan” but it isn’t clear. If you have a Bryansford GAC top could you please check it – Anna Lucia’s top has the initials ALB on it. Thanks for your help.

Training is now over for the Christmas and New Year holidays and will resume at Shimna College on Monday 9th January at 7pm.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for 2017.