Despite much speculation in recent weeks, Newcastle AC has declared its hand early in announcing their squad for the forthcoming Seeley Cup Event on Saturday 17th November. This race is the ‘Blue Ribbon’ event of the road running year and one can always expect fast times. Back in the halcyon days club members such as Deon McNeilly, the Rodgers twins, John Curran and Noel Douglas to name but a few have all posted extremely good times. While times have been more modest from the Newcastle faithful in recent years there is always a great deal of excitement as this races is also the official club 10k championship. Last year David O’Flaherty was the best for the club in 35:05, a time only good enough for 45th place overall as Andrew Ledwith edged out Paddy Hamilton by a second to record a win in 30:47. O’Flaherty will be keen to retain his club title and if recent form is an accurate barometer he is capable of getting a low 34 time. He will be pushed hard by his club mates, many of who have been focused on this particular event for months.
What a line up!
Indeed the Newcastle posse have been preparing in different ways. Jerome ‘The Prophet’ has been hosting house warming parties and I’m led to believe that he is ‘smoking hot’ at present. Hopefully his senses will be equally alert as he ‘burns it up’ at a scorching pace around Ormeau Park. Hen has gone for a more subtle approach and is employing the services of a personal sports psychologist to ‘get his head in the right place’. Obviously worried about the imminent threat of the V-45 challengers he has sought the services of world renowned guru Jim Magorrian who reliably informs me that after many sessions, Hen has the head sorted and he has mentally visualised the walk to the stage to collect the Vet-45 prize. Jim is confident that his charge will do just that on the day and will be hard to beat. David Steele on the other hand has purchased several new pairs of shoes and is trying them out in clandestine training sessions with a select few. He has also a wad of sick-notes signed by his mum, Ann, at the ready in case the shoes are not up to standard. There could indeed be a late change in the Kerry team at the 11th hour – again! Luke McMullan is travelling home from wherever he is to take part, such is his confidence and the young man is more than capable of posting a fast time.
Can Kendall deliver?
Similarly, Mark Kendall, on the back of some endurance work will be in contention over the shorter distance. Despite his amazing performances over the 26.2 he has yet to record a 10k commensurate with his ability – this could be the time to see him achieve his potential over what should be a good distance for him. Paul Watson went very well at Dundrum and is another who could be fancied over the shorter trip. PJ McCrickard and Brendan Donnelly will find it tough in the absence of their mate, Flip McVann and will need to overcome this major obstacle they are to prevail. Having said that, the hard road miles on the bike recently will stand PJ in good stead and a sub 37 is within his radar. Similarly Donnelly has been making a Herculean effort in sessions recently and could go even quicker that P. Niall Carson and I have set our sights high, aiming not only to win the coveted club title but a top three placing overall. We are both brimming with misplaced confidence and are certain that the likes of Paddy Hamilton and Joe McAllister will be aware of our presence: the only question is which of us will win the race. The team is completed by Aidan Brown, a teak tough athlete, who is a superb finisher. Given the right start and good pacing he could be one to watch as the race unfolds.
As always there are a few absentees. Dominic McGreevy is still suffering from a serious injury to his wallet and has been resting it for a few weeks. He is hoping that the next time he is forced to open it there will be no pain! We wish him a speedy recovery and suggest that a few hours working on McVann’s undercarriage should repair the injury!
Now that Halloween has passed all talk is of Christmas, but in running circles the main topic of conversation is not turkey, lights, presents or even mistletoe, but of forging unholy alliances and partnerships for the Castlewellan Christmas cracker. There are already rumours of who will be teaming up. One formidable partnership confirmed is mark Kendall and Audey McVeigh, despite the resolute denial of the latter. This pairing went very well last year and is even stronger this year to challenge for a top 5 finish. Eamon McCrickard has been seen talking to both Ian Bailey and Stevie Cunningham, while the ‘Big Fella’ has not been looking – one wonders on the content of such conversations. However it all plays out, record numbers will descend on Castlewellan on Saturday December 29th for what will be a great event for spectators and athletes alike. Further details and a full race preview in future reports.