Newcastle Juniors shine at National XC Championships

Race Report by Siobhan Grant

Over 130 miles away from home, at the tip of the North West of the island, local Newcastle AC Junior athletes, Maisie Mc Veigh, Saorlaith McAleenan and Connaire Og McVeigh made the trip to Donegal to take part in the 123.com National Cross Country Championships at Rosepenna Golf Club.

After securing 9th place in qualifying at the Northern Ireland and Ulster Championships in Comber, Maisie was selected to represent Ulster in the Under 12 girls race.
Toeing the line against the best runners on the whole island of Ireland on a blustery and bitterly cold Sunday morning, Maisie put in a strong race, pacing herself well and holding her own in amongst a field of 160 runners finishing in 55th place, 7th Ulster runner home.

She was joined by club mate Saorlaith McAleenan, who with still a year to spare in this category and the same unwaivering love for Bunkers Hill that her friend Maisie has, had qualified for the County Down squad. Forever learning, race by race and training session after training session, applied those lessons to her race plan. Saorlaith elegantly strode around the course to finish in 101th place. Continue reading

Newcastle Juniors impress in Dromore

Race Report by Siobhan Grant

It was an unseasonably mild November in Dromore to welcome back the start of the McGrady’s Financial Services Junior Cross Country Series for 2022/2023.
Being a year older comes with new challenges so alongside welcoming fresh faces to the series, we had the returning veterans of McGrady’s faced with additional distance to their routes.
For a change, runners arrived to zero wind, temperatures of 14 degrees and thankfully the ground was still quite tight underfoot. With the biggest decision being, shall we opt for the spikes or would the trails or trainers be stable enough.
Regardless of footwear choice, every race offered notable moments of true athleticism, determination and many memories made.

The day kicked off with the P4s and under races. These races are the ones everyone always remembers. Over the years, this race has been the first race many of our young folk have ever taken part in and this year was no different.

For the boys, fresh from his baptism of fire at Comber a few weeks back, Harry Flynn put in the finish of a lifetime to pip Murlough’s Adam Brennan on the line to take 3rd place in 2.02. Remembering that you keep running until you are well past the finish line. Mark McDonald put in an amazing run, pushing through the final 200m to finish in 2.30. Continue reading

Ernie and Connaire on form in Dublin

On Saturday, after a two year absence, Ernie Hall and Connaire McVeigh made the trip to the real home of Irish Cross Country, Santry Demesne in Dublin for the 33rd British and Irish Masters (5 Nations) championships.

After a week of wind and rain, it was refreshing to embrace the mild temperatures and pull on the Northern Ireland vests to pit the best our nation could offer against our neighbouring countries.

After a hard fought battle at the trials in Belfast only a few weeks ago the club was proud to have Ernie and Connaire representing Northern Ireland.

Ernie was running in the V70 race. He took 13th place within his age category and helped his Northern Irish Team to take home the silver medals. Connaire, along with the full family support crew, raced a few hours later in a highly competitive race from the gun. Connaire worked his way around the 8k course in the V45 race where the NI team to secured bronze medals in the team event.

With both men bringing home the bling north of the boarder, there’s still plenty of love for cross country to be found with these two veterans.

Connaire trying to get last minute racing tips from his team mates.

Little Acorns, Grow Mighty Oaks

On Saturday, it was the sowing of many of the little Newcastle AC acorn seeds that took place in Comber.

The Junior squad were out in force at the Ulster and NI Even Age Group Cross Country Championships at Billy Neill Country Park, Comber. This year’s squad had pledged that they were going to put Newcastle AC firmly back on the XC map after a quiet few years off the racing circuit. With many of our Juniors getting a taste of XC at the Flahavans Primary School League earlier this month, the race buzz has been infectious and 25 of the Junior Squad, ranging from 8 to 18 toed the line beside the best young athletes in NI.

With hope that it was impossible for any more rain to actually fall from the sky after a total soaking since mid week, the dull clouds gathered over Comber and just as the first race was about to kick off, the rain didn’t take time to come down, ensuring it didn’t miss any of the 56 runners in the U10 girls race.

Yet many wet and questionable mornings at Castlewellan Parkrun played to the advantage of young Emily Kerr as she powered around the course to take a fantastic 14th place. With experience, there is no doubt that this young lady will grow in confidence and excel on the muck, the road and on track. Continue reading