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

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

McVeighs make their intentions known at Armagh XC

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.