Tent christening and still top of the league…
There was a big Newcastle AC turnout at Sixmilewater Park in Ballyclare on Saturday past to unveil the latest in gazebos – emblazoned in red and yellow, constructed and commissioned on the course, yes, on the course – too close to the runners as they finished each lap, but McNeilly wasn’t for moving it.
Just as well for the Ladies Race was at 1.15pm and not soon after it, they had revised their cool-down to a cup of tea in the tent. Worse still, as the men’s team arrived, some were consuming cups of tea as warm-up. It took the diminutive Annadale Striders’ organiser, John McLaughlin, standing at the tent entrance to stop the party-goers staggering into the incoming runners.
Solid runs were produced by the three ladies who made the trip and ran 3 laps in the mud making up 3 miles. First home of the bunch was Sam McNeilly in 31st in 22 minutes 18 seconds, followed by Rita Devlin in 44th in 23 minutes 13 seconds and not far behind in 48th was Paulette Thomson in 23 minutes and 33 seconds. Great to see the three making the trip and more to follow.
The 4-mile Malcolm Cup was not until 3pm and it was this that encouraged the tea party back at the tent. Running into the best form of his life Seamus Lynch followed up his 33:19 at the Seeley 10k last week with an excellent 4th place this week in 21:38 behind European Cross-Country U-23 Championships-headed Annadale’s Ryan McDermott (20:57), City of Derry’s Declan Reed (21:01) and Ballymena & Antrim’s Jarleth Falls (21:26). Making a very welcome return to racing on his native soil was Luke McMullan. Home for the weekend from London and lost for many months and indeed years to defeat against fighting the flab, McMullan thought his injuries would never repair but today he defied it all and his sylph-like figure came home in 13th place in 22:35. Third scorer for the club was fast-finishing David O’Flaherty who has come through a difficult patch and made it in 15th in 22:42. Completing the team score was Barry McConville, improving all the time, this time home in 21st in 23:18 for the 4 miles of mud. This gave the boys a team score of 53 points.
Well ahead in 1st place and taking the Malcolm Cup were City of Derry with 32 points, but just pipping Newcastle in 2nd was Foyle Valley with 51 points. Nonetheless a solid third place when combined with the participation points from the ‘domestiques’ leaves Newcastle & District AC still top of the league with the lead cut to 8 points ahead of City of Derry. The final race before Christmas and number 6 of 9 in the League is hosted by City of Derry, Saturday week and no less than 2nd place is needed if the team is to retain a realistic chance of the securing the league title in February 2015.
Behind the scoring 4, there were encouraging runs for John (Hen) Kelly in 45th (24:37), cross-country novice Aidan Brown in 47th (24:47), Paul Byrne in 72nd (26:41), the Scribe in 73rd (26:41), Donal Ward in 99th (28:59), Gary Cairns in 100th (29:03), Stephen Rice in 101st (29:11) and Declan Magee in 107th in 29:43. It’s great to see the Tuesday evening club sessions bringing on so much improvement in the team right through the field. By getting 12 runners home across the line, the club scored the maximum bonus of 6 points in the league and it was a great effort by all to make the 12-mark.