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
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McGrady Financial Services Junior XC Series 2022/23
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 .
Report by Siobhan Grant
The Cross Country Season kicked off in Armagh at the end of September. A notoriously windy and undulating course.
Whilst the Newcastle AC seniors were warming up, it was our Junior members who got out on course first and tested the ground for them.
Moving up an age category this year to U11, Harry McVeigh ran a solid race from the front, only to be pipped at the post in the final 50m to take third place. As a junior within this category, he still has another year within the odd age group category to build further on his accomplishments. He was shortly followed by brother Connaire Og who held his own and ran a smart race to take 9th place. Both boys followed two days later at School Trials on Bunkers Hill to take 1st and 2nd place over the tough course to qualify for the Flahavans Squad.
Up next, Maisie also progressed into the older age category at U13. At this age range, one year can make a huge difference to times, as the juniors mature at different rates. Yet Maisie took her experience and applied it to every step of her race to secure 7th place. Again this will stand by her and is a great marker for the International and Ulster Even Age Group Championships at the end of October.