2011 Club Notes – McCann and McNeilly see in 2011 in style

Hill & Dale Dates announced for 2011

Newcastle Athletics Club is pleased to announce the eleven races in the 2011 Hill and Dale series. The increasingly popular races for runners of all abilities will begin with the traditional curtain opener in Castlewellan. The McVeigh Classic (perhaps soon to be re-branded the Wells Spectacular) kicks off what will undoubtedly be another great season of forest and fell running. The series takes on a familiar look as races 2 to 5 follow the tried and tested pattern of recent years. The real mountain goats will eagerly anticipate Binnian for the first true test on the open mountain. Race 6 sees a new addition to the Hill and Dale family with the inclusion of a further race in the picturesque setting of Donard Forest. Newcastle AC Chairman Deon McNeilly informed me that this particular race with be more mountainous than forest track and runners will await this race with interest. The series returns to the mountains for what many consider the most challenging event, the Loughshannagh Horseshoe followed by the ‘meels’. The Monument will be a welcome break from the mountains before heading to Rocky for another four summit challenge, through few will relish the infamous finish up the green hill to the main car park. The series closes in Donard forest with the ‘traditional’ finale that winds up towards the quarry before steeply descending back to the finish in Donard Park. Organiser Frank Morgan was in ebullient mood as he commented that the combination of Forest and open mountain events would whet the appetites of the entire running fraternity.



April 14th

‘The McVeigh Classic’


April 21st

Tollymore Forest

April 28th

Slieve Martin


May 5th

Binnian to the Top

May 12th


May 19th

Donard ‘Area’ Horseshoe

May 26th


June 2nd

Meelbeg Meelmore

June 9th

Monument Race

(Tollymore Forest)

June 16th


June 23rd

Donard Forest

Local Runners show their class

Newcastle runners have made an impressive start to the season. Eugene McCann was in fine form as he reached the summit of his career to date with a richly deserved victory in the Burren 6 mile road race on January 2nd. McCanny as he perhaps should be called sat in early on before making a decisive break on one of the many hills, unsettling his nearest challenger and striking for home. He never looked back and won convincingly in a very respectable 39:08. Inspired by this news his clubmate Marty McVeigh kicked hard over the last three miles to record 1:45:31 and claim 28th place overall.

A day earlier the evergreen Deon McNeilly followed up on his success in the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker with an excellent second place in the race over the glens to begin 2011 in style. The Newcastle Vet45 finished just over a minute behind Jarlath Falls, who recorded his seventh win in the event. Amazingly McNeilly shows no sighs of slowing up, nor would he appear to have lost his appetite for racing. His Castlewellan partner Eamon McCrickard was full of admiration for his colleague when he commented, ‘the Big Fella is a legend and a great source of inspiration to us all.’ In this sort of form McNeilly will have plenty to offer in the 2011 Hill and Dale races.

A Christmas morning alternative to turkey

In less serious vein the annual Christmas Day pilgrimage to the top of Slieve Donard was enjoyed by those who shirked the responsibility of basting the turkey and roasting the spuds. This admirable tradition originated with Frank Morgan in 1986 and has occurred uninterrupted ever since. Guests are always welcome and this year the Newcastle posse were joined by Gary Bailey and Sam Herron from Mourne Runners. Both men declined the registration forms offered at the end of the run!

Well Done Ian

Congratulations to long-serving club member, Ian Brannigan, who will be taking part in the Westfield Health British Transplant Games in August 2011, an annual event organised by the charity Transplant Sport UK. The Games, now into their 34th year, are the biggest event in TSUK’s calendar, and it is expected that around 800 transplant athletes plus their supporters will travel from across the UK to take part in a variety of sports and social events featured during the four day event. Ian is one of the many transplant athletes from Northern Ireland who will be taking part in the forthcoming Westfield Health British Transplant Games to help to increase awareness for the desperate need for Organ Donation in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Junior news

Junior Training resumed this week after all runners enjoyed a well earned break over Christmas. There is much to look forward to in the weeks ahead with the completion of the McGrady Financial Services Cross Country Series, the Rollercoaster Run around Downpatrick racecourse, the Armagh International Road Races to name but three. The next race in the aforementioned series is on January 23rd in the beautiful surroundings of the National Trust’s Castleward. Further information can be found on the Newcastle AC website www.newcastleac.org.

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