Lots of Photos (by Graham McCauley). A few more still to load.
Winter is in the air
The McGrady financial services junior cross country series made a welcome return on Sunday 15th September. What looked set to be a rainy and windy day cleared as if by magic and turned into a bright clear day just in time for the first race of the new series. The new series also welcomes a new team to the completion with Dromore AC joining Newcastle, East Down and Burren.
The main emphasis this year is participation by all and like last year each and every child that took part are awarded points which are added together at the end of the series and the team with the most points will secure the team trophies for this year. The past 2 years have all went to Newcastle AC but after the results from the first set of races its all to play for this year.
As always the P4 and under race got proceedings underway. 22 young athletes took to the line for the first race with some of whom are as young as 3 years old. As always in this category Newcastle AC had a very strong showing and dominated the points in this race with East Down, Burren and Dromore AC picking up some valuable team points to get the series underway.
Noah Sheridan and James McVeigh (both Newcastle AC) battled out first place with Noah claiming top spot by just one second. Peter Grant (Newcastle AC) followed up to claim 3rd. In the girls section Catherine Cousins (Newcastle AC) led from start to finish to win leaving her Newcastle AC team mates Anna O’Flaherty and Laura Hannah to battle out 2nd and 3rd place with Laura piping Anna on the line to snatch 2nd place with a great sprint finish.
Next up it was the P5’s turn to toe the line. With 5 boys and 7 girls taken part in this race it was Newcastle AC who again had a strong showing in this age category although Burren AC did pick up maximum points in the girls race with East down also scoring high in the boys race.
The boys race was a close call with only 3 seconds separating the top 3. Fionn Carey held off the challenge from Newcastle AC club mate Louis Sheridan (2nd place) to claim 1st place. East Down AC athlete Micheal O’Connor grabbed 3rd place to complete the podium. Burren AC got their first victory of the day in the girls P5 race with Lara McCarthy crossing the line in 1st place. Newcastle AC pair Orla Fitzimons and Caitlin Valentine had a close race for 2nd with Orla just beating the ever improving Caitlin by one second.
Burren AC secured the top points in both the girls and boys P6 race although East Down and Newcastle also got some valuable points on the board from this race
It was Thomas McKeveney (Burren AC) who led the P6 boys home running a great race to claim 1st place with team mate Calum McDonagh 2nd and East Down’s Cathal Kinsella 3rd. Burren girl Izzy O’Farrell took to the front early on and crossed the line in 1st place with Hannah Carson 2nd and her Newcastle team mate Tierna Bardon getting an impressive 3rd place.
Although it was Burren AC and Newcastle who scored well in the P7 race it was Dromore AC who really scored well especially in the boys race scoring with 4 athletes in the first 6 home. Although in the younger races Dromore didn’t pick up that many points they certainly changed that with a very strong presence in the p7 and over categories and certainly look like a club to be reckoned with for the series.
It was in this boys race which proved to be a close contest with Burren AC picking up another 1st place, this time with Patrick McCarthy beating Oliver Millar (Dromore AC) by just 2 seconds. Dromore’s Justin Burns made up the top 3. Eve Keneally (Newcastle AC) continued last years fine form with a convincing win in the girls section with Natasha Savage (East Down AC) in 2nd place and Aoife McCrickard (Newcastle AC) 3rd.
Newcastle and Dromore scored well in the boy’s year 8 race but it VigRX Plus was East Down and Dromore who dominated the girls race.
Newcastle AC’s Josh Faulkner led the year 8 boys race from start to finish to claim an impressive victory with Adam McKibbin (Dromore AC) in 2nd place and Aidan McCauley (Newcastle AC) 3rd. Eve Dunford (Burren AC) eased clear of the pack in the girls race and crossed the line to claim top spot with plenty to spare. Eabha Campbell (Newcastle AC) took 2nd place with East Down’s Edie Carroll making up the top 3 in 3 rd place.
It was East Down who came to the fore in the Year 9 boys race picking up points with 4 out of the first 6 home although it was Newcastle who scored well in the girls race with only one East down athlete ensuring it wasn’t a clean sweep for the host club.
The year 9 boys was a close run race with only 12 seconds separating the top 5. Tim Prenter (East Down AC) crossed the line 1st, just 2 seconds clear of club mate Owen Edwards with Adam Morgan (Burren AC) a further 2 seconds behind in 3rd place. In the girls section Newcastle’s Sarah Dougherty continues her fine from and eased to victory. Anna Lynn (East Down AC) and Lucy Kenneally (Newcastle AC) got 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
What happened Newcastle and Burren?
With no athletes competing from either Newcastle AC or Burren AC in the year 10 races it was great opportunity for the other 2 clubs to score well and close the gap on the oppositions and indeed Dromore did not miss on this one taking all the places in the boys race although East Down did hit back in the girls race taken 4 places out of the 6 finishers in this category.
This year 10 boys race was probably the race of the day to watch as it proved a thrilling encounter with Dromore’s Josh Millar setting the pace and leading for the majority of the race only for his club mate Ethan Dunn to run a ‘Mo Farah style’ race with a lightning fast sprint finish down the home straight to claim 1st place. Dromore filled the podium with Rory Burns in 3rd. East Down’s Laura Green won the girls section with a great performance in edging out 2nd placed Kerry McDowell (Dromore AC) who was just 1 second clear of 3rd placed athlete Aoife Cochrane (East Down AC).
The final race of the day saw the year 11 and over do battle. Burren AC’s Páraic Delahunt ran a dominant race to lead from start to finish and somewhat caught the marshals by surprise with a speedy final lap as he powered home for 1st place. East Down’s Caolan Atkinson followed in 2nd place with a strong run with Newcastle’s Conor Leckey putting in a fine performance for 3rd place. Laura Gardiner (East Down AC) ran her usual strong convincing race to lead from start to finish and claim the biggest winning margin of the day, winning with over a minute to spare. Newcastle’s Doyle triplets battled to make up the podium with Eilish grabbing 2nd place and Caitriona in 3rd.
East Down and Newcastle shared the majority of the points in this category but with Burren securing the win and Dromore scoring in the boys race ensured the points where shared out among the 4 clubs competing
We are sure that all those who witnessed this fantastic event will agree all 116 young athletes deserve a huge pat on the back for the major efforts they all made and each and every athlete must be given credit for the amount of effort they put in to try and secure an advantage for their teams in the early stages of the series. We are convinced after such amazing numbers for the first race the series will indeed continue to grow even more in the coming races.
The next round of the series will be in Kilbroney forest park, Rostrevor, on Saturday the 28th September, see www.newcastleac.org for further details.
Many thanks to our main sponsors McGrady Financial Services and to all who helped out on Sunday with course marking, marshalling and making much appreciated tea’s and coffee. Also a huge thanks to Tony Steele of TS Foods for supplying his mobile unit for the day and make sure those on the registration and tea making facilities stayed dry.