Kerry on course in a memorable day for Irish athletics
by Joe McCann
Kerry competes for Ireland at the European Cross Country Championships
Despite her self-confessed disappointing run at the Irish trial in Sligo, Kerry Harty was deservedly selected to represent Ireland in Slovenia. She certainly justified her selection finishing a very credible 45nd, just over two minutes behind team mate Fionnuala Britton, who improved dramatically on her fourth place finish last year by romping home to a comfortable victory and claim the title previously won by the legendary Catriona McKiernan in 1994. This was a fitting reward for the young Irishwoman who had taken the race to her rivals with a blistering display of front running that was too intense for all of her rivals.
Saul GAC 10k ‘Around the Griddle’
Brendan Quail, new recruit Jerome ‘the prophet’ McCrickard and John Kelly Participated in the Saul GAC ‘Round the Griddle’ 10K race last Sunday. All performed well. Brendan had a very strong run and placed 4th in a highly respectable time of 36.55 on a course that is notoriously undulating and challenging. Jerome ran strongly and finished strongly to claim 18th place. John finished 20th in 42.12, which is a great performance for an athlete that has been struggling with recurring injuries for months ad is testimony to his gritty determination and unflappable attitude to his running. Newcastle AC target signing Aidan Brown was equally impressive in finishing 13th overall and when the transfer window opens, he will be, subject to contract considerations, joining the ranks of the red and yellows. Our congratulations once again to East Down AC for their efforts in promoting events to encourage locals to come out and enjoy running. Well done also to John ’Hen’ Kelly, who said farewell to the colours of Castlewellan AC and signed off with an impressive 10th place in an extremely good 38:45. His new road racing captain at Newcastle AC said, ‘Hen will be a big asset to our highly talented and rapidly growing Vet 45 team’. None of his former team mates at Castlewellan GACAC were available for comment! The Hen is on the lookout for local races that are over by 9:30am so that he can make the most of the rest of the day.
Congratulations also to junior athletes Nial and Anna Rogan who competed in the 5km race at the same event. Nial clocked 26:21 and Anna recorded 29:22 for the 5km course.
The Big Event
Perhaps the biggest event in the weeks ahead is the joint Yuletide festive bacchanalias organised by Newcastle AC and Murlough AC. Was it chance or was it fate that conspired to have these two sets of friendly rivals booked into the same venue on the same night to celebrate the festive period? Given that for the most part the Newcastle posse are male dominated and that their Murlough counterparts are predominately female there could be a bit of ‘murder on the dance floor’ and maybe even a few pairings established for the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker. Some athletes have also been practising their moves so that they do not let the side down on the night. Frank Morgan has provided some of his old Country and Western LPs and dance lessons are in full swing under his expert tutelage. It has also been noted that several athletes have been seen leaving their finery into the dry cleaners in preparations for the big event. Indeed one Newcastle stalwart was even observed out and about in a local hotel giving his best grey suit (purchased in an era when double breasted apparel with trousers with turn ups were in fashion) an airing before the big night. It was also noted that the suit in question was a little short in the leg and a little baggy around the chest and waist. Perhaps this was caused by the owner not realising his own identity given that he has been claiming to be Deon McNeilly to unsuspecting patrons of Newcastle coffee shops! Granted there is a similarity which lasts until the running starts and then all is truly revealed. No Doubt the Murlough machine will be equally diligent and assiduous in their preparations in an attempt to steal the show and if my sources are correct Mark, Gerard and Dominic have a hectic schedule of appointments to keep in local beauty parlours next Saturday.
Well done to our juniors who competed at Dromore XC races on Saturday 11th December. On a very cold day and mucky course they all performed extremely well. Caolan Hawkins won the U11 boys 800m race in 2.32. Michaela Quinn led the U11 girls race all the way and just got piped at the line and recorded 2.39. Jack Quinn was 2nd (5.34) in a tough 2 lap(1mile) U13 boys race. He was followed by Aidan Hawkins in 4th (5.51) and Eoghan Knight in 10th (6.33).
Well done to Kiara Cairns, Caolan Hawkins and Aidan Hawkins who competed in the Castleward off-road Duathlon (run, bike, and run) on December 1st. Kiara was first U-11 girl, Caolan was 2nd U-11 boy and Aidan was 6th U-15 boy.
Many of our juniors competed strongly on 28th November in the 2nd round of the ANI Primary School XC League in Castlereagh. On a very demanding course, Michaela Quinn had an excellent run to finish third. Also representing All Children’s PS were Eve and Lucy Keanneally, Eabha Campbell and Kate Lenny. Caolan Hawkins placed 8th in the boys’ race. Strong finishes also came from Ben McGuigan, Gabriel Corrigan and Tom Rodgers.
The Junior Christmas Party
Junior athletes enjoyed their annual Christmas party on Sunday 11th December in the Toscano restaurant and pizzeria. The operose Junior coaches once again excelled themselves in organising a fun event for the children. After the fine dining, junior athletes enjoyed a quiz which was won by the appositely named ‘smarty pants’ team, who narrowly defeated ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ by the mere width of a running vest! Spot prizes and awards for best scrap books were then distributed. Training has now ended for the Christmas holidays, but athletes are reminder that the fourth race in the McGrady Financial Services cross country series will be held on Saturday 17th December; the racing begins at 11am and, as usual, athletes are asked to arrive in plenty of time to register and be ready for the warm up, which will begin at 10.45am. Athletes are also reminded to wrap up warmly as the likelihood is that it will be a very cold morning.
It’s not too ‘Extreme’ for David
David O’Flaherty was the convincing winner of the rescheduled Extreme 26 Winter Series race held in Castlewellan on 1st December. At the end of the first of two laps he was closely marshalled by Stuart Paulin and Paul Woodman. However O’Flaherty opened up on the second lap and won convincingly by 15 seconds, with Paulin second and Woodman third. Murlough had two in the top 10 with Dominic McInerney and Stephen Wallace 8th and 9th respectively.
The Castleward 10 mile Trail race
There was a disappointing turn-out of 27 runners for this event. Although billed as 10 miles, the course was a little short and, according to the oracle that is Garmin, was more like 8.9 miles. However, I am reliably informed that the race route was both excellent and enjoyable. Four laps of a fast up and down circular course with a demanding 500 metre climb on each lap. Brendan Quail was the best placed Newcastle athlete, finishing 2nd with a steady run and completing the course in 55:18. Newcastle AC proselyte elect Aidan Brown placed 6th overall in 59:27 and Newcastle’s latest signing Jerome McCrickard (the membership fee has changed hands) came 8th in a time of 1:02:27. On completing the race Jerome went quickly to the back of the van and duly recorded his time on a cement bag. No doubt he will transfer the data to his personal training file on his I-Pad in the not too distant future!
There are, as always a number of events in the weeks ahead. The Burren town lands run takes place on Boxing Day with races over 6 and 12 miles. On the same day the BARF Turkey Trot starts and finishes at the Trassey car park. The following day, December 27th, witnesses the biggest race of the Christmas period, the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker (look out for a full preview in next week’s MO). McNeilly and McCrickard will start as favourites, but rumours abound that Teer and Venney of East Down will be competing and are confident that they can wrestle the crown from the current champions. For those with a penchant for the fells, the annual Race over the Glens will be held on January 2nd in the picturesque, but usually freezing setting of Glenariff on the Antrim coast.