Report by RoadRunneR
The fifth and final race of the McGrady Financial Services junior cross country series took place on Saturday 16th February. The weather conditions where perfect and as the crowds started to form for the race, the organisers themselves where racing against time to finalise the marking of the course. But thanks to the help of the ‘Sarah Dougherty fan club’ and East Down’s legendary Joe Quinn the course was ready for the eager young athletes.
As always the day kicked off with the P4 and under race. After the first 200 meters the athletes began to separate and the race for the podium was on. In the boys race Newcastle AC’s Jamie Williamson edged out East Down’s Micheal O’Connor with James McVeigh (Newcastle AC) a very close 3rd, only 6 seconds separated the 3 podium finishers in a close exciting race.
Amy McCrickard moved into the lead early on in the girls race and the Newcastle AC girl dominated throughout to the finish with a fine win. Anna O’Flaherty (Newcastle AC) made a welcome return to racing and recorded her best cross country finish to date with second place just ahead of Colleen Burke (East Down AC) in 3rd place.
Next up was the P5 race. Thomas McKeaveney (Burren AC) hit the front of the pack from the whistle and continued to stretch his lead until about 400 meters to go when Newcastle AC’s Ronan McVeigh turned up the heat and started to close in on first place. With an exciting finish Thomas held on for 1st with Ronan grabbing 2nd being closely pursued by James McMahon (Burren AC) who made up the podium with a fine 3rd place. In the girls section Izzy O’Farrell(Burren AC) continued her fine form to lead from start to finish to claim the win with Hannah Carson ( Newcastle AC) having a great race as she returns to form to finish 2nd. Hannah just edged out East Down AC’s 3rd placed Louise Lundy by a few hundredths of a second in an exciting up hill finish.
The P6 race was next with a close race for 1st between Danny Williamson (Newcastle AC) and Andrew McGrattan (East Down AC). The two boys went head to head from the off only for Danny to edge out Andrew in the closing stages of the race to win by 2 seconds with Newcastle AC’s Pierce Bardon getting 3rd place. Eve Kenneally (Newcastle AC) continued her front running in the girls race and opened up a good lead by the half way mark but East Down AC’s Libby Maloney wasn’t going to let Eve have it all her own way and closed in on her rival with a strong fast finish. Eve held out for 1st and Libby got 2nd after a great battle with only 2 seconds between the girls. Natasha Savage (East Down AC) made up the podium with a strong 3rd placed finish.
With the P7 race on its way Josh Faulkner (Newcastle AC) continued his good form to finish 1st, holding off a strong challenge from Burren AC’s Sean Campbell who was just behind in 2nd place. Newcastle AC’s Aidan McCauley finished well for 3rd place in the strong field of runners. Niamh Scullion (Burren AC) had a great run to win the P7 girls race. Caoimhe Grace O’Donnell of East Down AC finished 2nd with Newcastle AC’s Kiara Cairns only 1 second in 3rd behind in what was a very close contest for second place.
The year 8 boys race was a very close race with East Down AC’s Owen Edwards just edging out Burren AC’s Jack O’Farrell in a sprint finish to clinch it after Jack had lead from the start. Well done to both boys who battled right to the line. 3rd in the race was James McKeaveney( Burren AC) who held his position well to claim the final podium spot. Sarah Dougherty(Newcastle AC) lead from start to finish increasing her lead throughout to finish a well deserved 1st. Sarah’s Newcastle team mates Micheala Quinn and Marie Claire McVeigh had a great battle for second place with Micheala just getting in ahead of Marie Claire with the girls getting 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
The year 9 boys race was all about Burren AC with the team dominating from the off and filling the podium with three athletes. Oisin McKinley finished 1st closely followed by Ardan McAvoy in 2nd and Malachai McAvoy in 3rd. In the year 9 girls race East Down AC done as the Burren boys had and also made it three out of three on the podium. Laura Green was 1st just ahead of 2nd placed Aoifa Cochrane and 3rd placed Elisha Surginor.
Paraic Delahunt ( Burren AC) won the year 10 boys race as he managed to shake off the challenge from Newcastle AC’s Daniel Molloy on the final lap. Daniel came a great 2nd place and was backed up in third by team mate Glenn Grainger who had a great run.
Spectators can be forgiving for thinking they where seeing triple in the year 10 girls race as 1st, 2nd and 3rd was made up of Newcastle AC triplets Eilis(1st), Niamh(2nd) and Catriona Doyle(3rd) with only 1 second separating each place.
Dearbhla Magee had a clear win in the girls year 11+ race and left her Newcastle AC team mates Lucy Grainger and Anna Rogan to battle out for 2nd and 3rd place. Lucy moved clear from Anna on the second lap and finished in 2nd with Anna continuing to improve week on week getting 3rd place.
Well done to all the young athletes who gained valuable points for their clubs in the team competition.
That brings a close to this years cross country series with full results and details of the presentation night to appear on the Newcastle AC website soon. Many thanks to all that helped out on Saturday and throughout the series as without the help it would be very difficult indeed to organise and run.