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

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

Newcastle Masters make the cut

Report by Covid Officer

The call went out from high above to summons those who felt their legs had matured with grace and pizzazz and where worthy of competing at the Northern Ireland Master Trials for selection in the British & Irish Masters Cross Country International.

On a fresh yet glistening Saturday morning in South Belfast, The Dub was filling up with the best Masters Athletes that NI had to offer. From out of the morning shadows strolled Ernie Hall and Connaire McVeigh. Both in red and yellow and ready to prove that with age, comes wisdom, endurance and a refined ability to engage some strong elbow play on the start line.
Ernie was up first in the V70 category. He faced three laps of what he described as ‘a fast course with a few bumps on the ground.’ Not a stranger to a few bumps and even bigger lumps, Ernie steadily worked his way around the 6 km course finishing 3rd place in his category in a time of 27.03.

Connaire McVeigh who this year graduated into the V45 category as he turned 21 plus 24 earlier in the year was cheered on by the McVeigh support crew who watched on trying to pick up some racing tip from the runners.

Connaire engaged the infamous race tactics coined by the auld O’Hare hotelier “Go hard or go home.” A tactic which has yet to fail him, completing the 8km route in a time 28.10. This was good enough for a 6th place finish in his category. Although he was overheard saying that his time would have came a higher position in the V40 category. Sorry Connaire, you’re only going to get older so time to keep raising the bar!

Both athletes have now qualified for the British and Irish International XC in Santry, Dublin 12th November 2022 as part of Team Northern Ireland .

40th Anniversary Dinner Dance

Since humble beginnings in 1981, Newcastle & District AC has become one of the most successful running clubs in Northern Ireland, enjoying great success on the mountains, the track, the roads and cross country. Regrettably our plans to celebrate the first 40 years were thwarted by the pandemic and consequently our 40th celebrations will take place later than planned.

There will be a Dinner Dance for past and present members on Friday 25 November 2022 in the Burrendale Hotel at 7:30pm. This will be subsidised by the club and will cost £20 for those wishing to attend. The dress code is smart casual. Members may wish to bring their spouse, partner or significant other and all are welcome. It is important that past members are invited and we ask for your help in sharing names, numbers, email addresses of former members who would be keen to attend. Booking is via the below online form.

Online Booking Form – 40th Anniversary Dinner

We will be putting together a PowerPoint to celebrate the first 40 years and would be grateful if you could forward any good quality photographs you may have to Joe McCann (mccann_joe@hotmail.com – 07860266118) either in person – he promises to return them once scanned – or electronically which is preferable. Please note the year of any photos and, if possible, the event at which they were taken. We are particularly interested in photos from the earlier days of the club when photos were taken less often than they are today due to the improved technology.