Win number two for Annett at Moughanmore
by Pete Moss
As Messers Sarkozy and Dalglish contemplate a quiet life away from the public gaze it was, as if to fill the void left by these great men, that an almost forgotten ‘Hill and Dale’ figure made a memorable return to the stage last Thursday evening. And so it came to pass that the much maligned Joseph Aloisius Mc Cann took up the mantle of welcoming each and every runner to race 5 of the 2012 Hill and Dale series. Taking his self-appointed ‘chief race entry official’ brief very seriously, he efficiently issued numbers, while at the same time enquiring after the health of everyone’s wider family circle, even when the other party in the conversation had long since moved away. Despite these unforeseen pre-race difficulties 158 souls toed the line, ready for the challenge of the race over Pigeon to Moughanmore and back again.
Quickly to the fore and first over Pigeon was the in form Andrew Annett closely followed by Ian Bailey and the Mc Neilly’s Deon and David. Then followed the improving Eamon Mc Crickard and Mourne’s Clive Bailey together with David O’Flaherty and Jonathan Mc Cloy, with the rest of the field in ‘cold’ pursuit. Andrew turned first at Moughanmore and held onto his lead for the run back, coming in to win in 30.35 and in doing so claiming his second victory of the series. Newcastle’s David Mc Neilly had a brilliant run home and claimed second place only 24 seconds behind Andrew with Ian Bailey, producing another fine run to finish a further 15 seconds behind, in third. Once again Fermanagh’s Ciara Largey easily claimed the ladies race finishing 20th overall with Shileen O’Kane next lady again finishing very well in 31st overall with Diane Wilson making up the top three in this category.
Extremely slippy conditions
As the runners streamed off the hill it became apparent that as a result of weeks of poor weather the going had been soft, very muddy and extremely slippy to say the least. Poor Paul Fegan lost a shoe only 100 metres after starting and was greatly encouraged by the good natured race officials as he struggled to put it on again. Many runners looked quite normal as they crossed the line wracked with the pains of over exertion and covered with black Mourne muck. Indeed it wasn’t until Kate Hanratty and Joy Morgan crossed the line that the award for the cleanest finisher was finalised.
The slippy ground caused many other problems and Hill and Dale stewards had to consult the rule book to see if completing part of the course whilst sliding on your belly was permissible. Stalwart Jim Brown took a nose dive whilst travelling at considerable speed and landed on a stone injuring his knee and damaging the stone as well, while Eamon Mc Crickard used his home made on board springs to bounce up again as he regularly touched base. A Newry man who perhaps should have gone to a well-known opticians, nearly missed the not inconspicuous finishing funnel and had to be called back by chief finishing steward Morgan. When questioned about his actions he said he was just taking the turn like a lorry driver however this excuse was flatly rejected by the usually tolerant Morgan.
By the time the last runners made their way off the hill and as Frank’s patience finally ran out, Joe Mc Cann , much to the relief of spectators and marshalls alike, was relieved of his duties. Undeterred the jovial Mc Cann made his way to the prize giving eager to secure a seat at the fire and prepare his briefs for the next race.
Special thanks are due to Greenan’s Steak House in Kilcoo who very kindly hosted the post-race prize giving where runners were amply warmed, fed and watered. Competitors are reminded that as well as food, drink and convivial conversation, spot prizes and unlimited abuse and advice are on offer at the weekly prize giving and everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.
Thanks are also due to all the race officials who helped on the night and especially to summit marshals Billy, Lucy and Eugene. Next week’s race is ‘The Monument’ starting in Tolymore Forest Park and your host for the night is non other than the affable Mr Joe Mc Cann.