Hill & Dales 2024 Race 8 – Loughshannagh Race Report, Results & Photos

Train us up before you go – Joe
Hill & Dale Race 8 – The Loughshannagh Horseshoe – A diatribe of bitter invective by the Ghost Writer
‘Never in the field of sporting conflict was one man missed by so many.’
The Hill & Dale season is nearing the end. For many this is cause for consternation and sadness. The annual camaraderie that unfolds each week as the series progresses is palpable. Old friendships are renewed, new ones are forged and the ‘banter’ that epitomises the spirit of the series is there for all to see. The whole thing is an ‘event’ from start to finish. The fun begins in the registration area when stalwarts and ‘newbies’ present themselves to be registered and expect to be pilloried to a greater or lesser extent depending on the mood of those appointed to the post of Race Director. Part of the process for selection to the post RD involves a role play scenario where 15 random people present themselves for registration and the would-be RD has to process them. Applicants are scored on their ability to make eye contact, share a word or two of encouragement, give some basic details of the route and the mandatory kit requirements and health & safety requirements. However, most attention is paid to their ability to find some way of insulting the participants or recalling something silly that they have done (or in extreme cases may not have done at all!) in the past.

The right men for the job!
According to official scoring records, this week’s duo of McCann and McCrickard scored so highly in the last criteria that it was only fitting to put them together to ensure maximum bang for your buck for those willing to take on the most challenging race of the series. They have been looking after this race for a long time, long enough for the latter to have survived multiple heart attacks, the insertion of an iron lung and a selection of new hips and knees – and these were his less serious ailments! So by Tuesday night, well over 200 had signed up knowing they they would get their money’s worth from these stalwarts of H&D Race direction.
And then there was one man for the job!
On Wednesday morning it was revealed that the former had a prior appointment recorded in his diary as ‘managing change and transforming lives’. Who could the Prophet turn to in his hour of need? Thankfully Francie had trained Lorna very well and as her apprenticeship was drawing to a close it was deemed apposite to give her increased responsibility for the ‘Blue Riband’ event of the series. Little did she know that Wee Brown was watching her every move from the summit of Carn with telescopic binoculars!
They love an e-mail
So, with the initial crisis averted, and, due to extremely shrewd people management from McCann, the team was in place and all were trained up to his exacting standards. When the course facilitator was looking at the names of those attending the training symposium organised by McCann he was mesmerised by some of the email addresses: jerometheprophet@thecementbeg.com, bigrontrucker@paymeapoundmore.com, missworld@ultradarktan.com. He did record one notable absentee – damienb@forkingthecouscous.com
Any tape left?
Parking can be a problem at this remote location along a reasonably narrow highway. The Prophet had this all under control. He arrived early to mark out the road and was met by a shower of hail the size of golf balls that were threatening to bate the life out of him (he is never one to exaggerate or fabricate the truth). Having batted most of these away with his hurl, he took to marking out the road from Bryansford to Newry in one direction and as far as Rathfriland in the other. He used more tape than the Bon Jovi back catalogue!
Where is he?
As registration opened, the usual suspects began to arrive and proffer their numbers to be scanned by the ever-reliable Debbie (Debbie@youcouldseemyhi-vizfrom space.com). Mary Mackin was apoplectic and incandescent in the denouement moment when she realised that her favourite RD and long term sparring partner was not there to aggressively process her entry. If this was not bad enough she was presented with an unbroken mug, which will look out of place with the chipped ones and those with no handles that she was given in previous years!! Audie and Hen were equally disappointed not to see their dear friend!!!
The portable toilets (one must never used a brand name!) proved a big hit and ensured that due respect was given to the environment. This worked well in theory, but in principle proved problematic when McAlinden ‘bounced’ them with the van and the RD moved them when occupied – two very silly boys.
Picnic time
With everyone sent towards Ott on Frank’s whistle, it was time for the volunteers to retreat to the van for refreshments. With the RDs mindful of their waistlines the characteristic fish suppers were replaced by an asseitte of hand cut, deep filled sandwiches lovingly prepared by Diane McGivern from ‘On A Roll’. These were polished off in record time and thankfully coincided with Debbie’s intermittent fasting schedule! Looking after the interests of the volunteers continued when the Prophet produced a garden sprayer and douched the finish crew with his special mix to repel the midges – it was a combination of his aftershave and TCP with the former more pungent!
There was a race that we ought to mention
At this point it would be remiss not to mention something about the race. In the Male race Joshua McAtee took the best line at the business end of the race and usurped the ever consistent Ashley Crutchley to win by 19 seconds. David Hicks had a fabulous run to complete the podium. With the ladies, there was a familiar trio leading the way with Esther Dickson, Martsje Hell and Diane Wilson finishing in that order. Dickson won by a minute and a half with Wilson 30 seconds further back in third. Well done to all the other category winners on their performances on the night.
Any hungry donkeys?
With the racing completed and the dusk setting, it was time to retreat to Mary Margaret’s for the post-race recriminations and some well deserved refreshments. As always, Rita had risen to the challenge that in the words of Francie Nugent would have ‘choked a donkey’. With bellies full, the final task of the evening was to listen to the words of congratulations from the dragooned number 2 and try to catch one of the mugs that the Prophet was flinging to all corners of the room!
Thanks from afar
The absent RD would like to thank all who helped out and made his ‘no-show’ a mere bagatelle – the entries management, the road logistics management, those who stood on the mountains until the last athlete passed through, those who took photos, those who processed and collected the results and finally to the newest addition to the report writing team for documenting an entertaining and eventful evening.
Week 9
Next week is the penultimate race of the series – the Meels – Please keep an eye on our socials for instructions from RDs Stevie Rice and Sam McNeilly. Remember the final race of the series (Drinahilly) is on Friday 21 June to allow for celebration of what has been another amazing year of Hill & Dale
Finally – We have a poet in our midst!
To make this momentous occasion Minimus the poet penned the epic below as a hagiographical panegyric to the man who stepped up and made it happen despite the potential for it all to fall apart. This poem has been recited in all small towns along the N52 and is already known as far as Birr!
Ode to the Prophet!
The venue was set and the time was nigh, for Prophet and Joe it was do or die.    
With their team gathered round and duties dealt out, Joe’s appearance was very much in doubt.   
The Prophet needed someone as he was running out of time; a person who was clever, a partner in crime. 
But he is resourceful, resilient and thran, and in a light bulb moment called the woman with the tan.    
With the masses gathered at the far side of the gate, with a few minutes to go Joe sealed his own fate.    
The Prophet made a speech in case the runners forgot, “run this way not that way head straight up to Ott.”   
Frank’s whistle did blow and runners were off, officials were off to the van for a scoff.   
They drank tea, ate biscuits and sandwiches galore, but like Oliver Twist they wanted some more.  
With their bellies contented and fat as a fool, it was time for Miss World to work the big tool.   
So up to the funnel we all had to go, as Prophet exclaimed “still no sign of Joe.”  
When the runners came home amongst the snot and the boke, the girls worked the tools and never missed a stroke.    
When it was time to be counted the Prophet stood tall, he gathered his bannermen one and for all.
The moral of the story is simple and just, put your faith in the Prophet, a man you can trust.
All photos below by Richard Cowan
Joshua Mcatee leading the race from the start to take the win over Ashley Crutchley

Joshua Mcatee leading the race from the start to take the win over Ashley Crutchley

Strong run from Esther Dickson winning the women's race

Strong run from Esther Dickson winning the women’s race

Thumbs up from Sam McNeilly

Thumbs up from Sam McNeilly

BARF's Chris Law and Newcastle's Owen-Roe Brogan

BARF’s Chris Law and Newcastle’s Owen-Roe Brogan

Sharon Dickenson making running up Carn look easy

Sharon Dickenson making running up Carn look easy

Race Results:

Click here for results

Race Photos:

Photos by Paul Fegan

Photos by Richard Cowan (If you want to use Richard’s photographs then feel free. The link below gives you a chance to say thanks by buying him a cup of tea: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/thekillinchyphotographer)