22 September – Derry Track Club opened the autumn season impressively finishing second overall and winners of the open category at the inaugural Hill of O’Neill 4 x 1 Mile Road Relay in Dungannon.

Ben Mellon (5:32) led off impressively for the Derry A squad coming home third at the end of the first leg. He handed over to Adrian Boyle who ran DTC’s fastest split (5:19) of the evening to bring the boys right into contention for the victory.

Dylan Doherty (5:34) had his best ever run in the DTC vest to hold on to the lead on leg 3. Mark Quigley (5:38) did all that could be asked of him on the final leg to finish second overall behind Mid Ulster and first in the Open category.

The women’s team were equally impressive finishing fourth in the women’s listings. Catherine Doyle (6:20), Máire Ferguson (6:19), Grace Callaghan (6:48) and Lucy Brien (8:33) all excelled on new territory to them.

Conor McIlveen was the star of the men’s B team that finished 36th of the 88 teams that completed the race. The Ireland Paralympic international opened with a fine opening leg of 7:03 and filled in with 9:07 third leg. In between Robert Bigger showed why he is one of the fastest in the M65 age group anywhere with a 6:24 timing.

Guest Lee Maginnis showed he has lost little of the ability that made him a formidable 800m runner not that long ago with a 5:58 timing.
Thanks to Fergal O’Donnell, Brendan Woods and all at Galbally Runners for an enjoyable and memorable evening.

FULL RESULTS: Full Results


Mary Peters Track – 11 June 2023

Two of the club’s younger members took part in the NI & Ulster U14-U20 Championships at the Mary Peters Track. Over 600 of the province’s young athletes were keen to take advantage of the perfect conditions to produce some fine performances. Unfortunately, the two DTC starlets met with disparate outcomes.

Conor Kelly is a young man with ambitions of competing European Youth Olympic Festival in Slovenia and travelled from London to hand out a defeat to two of the best home-based sprinters in the U17 200m. Kelly (15), both of whose parents are from the North, recently turned down a place in an England development squad, responding in a Bidenesque manner “No thanks – I’m Irish.”

Despite feeling fatigue from the journey, the former rugby starlet stopped the clock at 22.20 (-0.2) seconds to hold off City of Lisburn’s Arnar Brynjarrson by a mere three-hundredths of a second with Loughview’s Rus Veikune timed at 22:31, personal bests by both second and third. The Derry Track Club athlete has run faster this season with a legal 22.02 mark and a wind-assisted 21.96, both at the north London venue of Lee Valley, earlier in the season.

Unfortunately, the day did not end well for Kelly with his flight home cancelled. This meant he and his mother Mary Jo (née Doherty from Derry!) had to spend an extra night in Belfast before catching the 6:30am “red eye” flight in the morning. This was followed a mad rush across London to arrive 45 minutes late for his 9:00am English exam. Thankfully, his school was more than sympathetic to his plight and made special arrangements for him to complete the paper.   

Grace Callaghan had been in good form going into the championships and those close to her felt she was in medal-winning shape. What they did not take into account one of the most bizarre decisions by officials seen in any sport for a long.

The Thornhill Grammar looked to have comfortably qualified through her heat of the U17 Girls’ 200m in second place only to be informed by a spectator that she had been disqualified. On contacting the track referee, Grace was informed that the reason for the disqualification that she had run twice on the white line and ended up in the wrong lane.

It was only two days later when video evidence was received that this was not the case. As can be seen quite clearly from the photo below – Grace is in the dark vest on the right. The Ballymena runner from lane 8 can be seen behind her.

Grace is on the right. A Ballymena runner can be seen behind her in the same lane.

In the video below you can see the runner in lane eight moving into seven.

Unbelievably the Ballymena athlete was not disqualified but Grace was for a lane infraction – see above!!


18 June 2022

L-R: Cathal McLaughlin, Adrian Boyle, Jim Green, David Stewart, Mark Quigley and Ben Mellon

DTC snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at the 2nd annual 6 x1600m track relay against our friends at Tafelta AC (Magherafelt).

Jim Green showed maturity beyond his 17 years to bring DTC home in the lead at the end of the first leg. David Stewart went out hard on leg two but paid the price as Tafelta took a significant lead by the one-third mark of the contest.

Despite both Mark Quigley and Cathal McLaughlin making solid contributions over the next two legs, Tafelta still maintained a healthy advantage.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man and Ben Mellon was that man, contributing the first sub-5 minute clocking to put Adrian Boyle within striking distance at the final changeover.

The former Irish Masters’ 800m champion showed all of his expertise as he quickly closed the gap before sitting in wait at his rival’s shoulder. The laps ticked away without any change before Boyle unleashed a vicious kick with 120m to run.

It was all over with Boyle breaking the tape well clear of his opponent and registering the fastest split of the relay.

Thanks to Francis Purvis and all at Tafelta for an enjoyable morning despite the cold and breezy conditions.

DTC Juveniles Impress at NI/Ulster Champs

11 June 2022

A bronze medal and two new personal bests summed up the performances of DTC’s Jim Green and Grace Callaghan at the NI/Ulster Championships at Antrim Forum.

Jim Green sprinted to a bronze medal in the U18 Boys’ 400m clocking 56.83 seconds in windy conditions. He rounded off a busy day with a fourth place in the 200m.

Jim (right) gets his well-deserved bronze medal

Grace Callaghan opened in style with a win in her heat before taking a battling fifth in the U16 Girls’s 200m clocking an impressive 27.72 seconds.

Grace Callaghan in full flight.


Oliver McCullagh

Hundreds of people turned out this week in County Tyrone to bid farewell to the late Oliver McCullagh. The Greencastle man’s cortege from his home to St. Patrick’s Church, Greencastle was led by lone piper Michael Kelly and representatives of clubs from all over Ulster. McCullagh was not only the originator and organiser of the Greencastle 5 Miles road race but also an influential figure in the development of the sport in mid-Ulster.

Fr. Eddie Gallagher led an emotion-charged requiem service with the following extract reading from Ecclesiastes:

There is a time for everything,

And a season for every activity under the heavens:

A time to be born and a time to die.

Oliver was heavily involved in activity but sadly his time came much too soon. He will not be forgotten and is survived by his wife Mary, daughter Olivia (Mullin), sons Pierce and Connor, their respective partners, and grandsons and granddaughters. May he rest in peace. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Lone piper Mickey Kelly leads the cortege.


David Stewart (2nd left) at the conclusion of pentathlon at European Masters’ Indoors, Braga, Portugal.

DTC athlete David Stewart set a new M55 record in finishing eighth in the pentathlon event in Barga, Portugal. David set personal bests in all five events. His best individual result came in the 1000m with a 3:20.69 timing which was worth 719 points. (results at https://emaci22.vercel.app/results)

Other DTC athletes were in action at the Buncrana parkrun where they filled the top three positions in windy conditions (four in the top ten).

  1. Adrian Boyle 18:49 (74.76%)
  2. Cathal McLaughlin 18:50 (80.88%)
  3. David Mellon 20:08 (69.37%) …9th Conor McIlveen 23:35

Across the water DTC’s Stephen Logan was second in the Beverley Westwood parkrun in 19:43 (69.23%).


By noted athletics historian Michael O’Dwyer

Frank Freer was born on 13 May 1867 at Kilcommon, Cahir, County Tipperary. He was the eldest son of John
Freer and Caroline Freer (née Abbott).

The marriage notice of his parents in the Leinster Express of 28 April 1866 reads, ‘On the 19th inst., at St. Thomas’s Church, Dublin, by the Rev. Oliver J. Tibeaudo, cousin to the bride, John G. Freer, Esq., of Ballykineen, Queen’s County, to Caroline S. Abbott, eldest daughter of G. T.
Abbott, Esq., formerly of Barnagrotty, King’s County.’

According to the 1901 census his mother was born in
County Tipperary. Her own mother, Julia Maria Abbott (née Tibeaudo), was a daughter of Joseph Oliver
Tibeaudo, of Annagh Castle, near Puckane, County Tipperary.

Although Frank Freer was born in County
Tipperary it is likely he spent a very short time there and grew up on the family farm at Ballykaneen, Clonaslee,
County Laois. The farm was later sold in 1895 and his parents moved to Timogue, Stradbally.

He entered Trinity College Dublin in 1885 and graduated on 19 December 1889 as a senior moderator, equivalent to obtaining first class honours degree of exceptional merit.

At the Irish athletics championships he won the 120
yd hurdles event in the years 1889, 1890 and 1891. He also came second in the 120 yd hurdles in 1888 and
1893, and came second in the long jump in 1891.

Frank Freer was a teacher of French and English at Foyle
College, Derry, where he directed the school games and sports. He also managed the school’s concert and
theatricals, and he revived and directed the school magazine.

After twenty years at Foyle College, Frank Freer
died during the summer holidays on 22 August 1913 at the residence of his brother-in-law in Castlecuffe,
County Laois, aged forty-six. He was survived by his wife and a young son. It was arranged by the governors of
the school with his wife that she would take boarders from the school into her home, and they provided her with
beds and furnishings, so that she would be able to make a living.

Titles Won at Senior National Championships:
(Irish Amateur Athletic Association)

1889 120 yd Hurdles 17.0
1890 120 yd Hurdles 16.6
1891 120 yd Hurdles 16.6

ADAM headlines a busy weekend

Adam Kirk-Smith

21 November 2021 – Adam Kirk-Smith headlined a busy weekend for DTC athletes with a fine 24th place in the National Senior Cross Country, making him the first Ulster-based athlete across the finish line. Good news also is that AKS has committed himself to DTC for 2022 becoming our first contract athlete for the year.

22 Andrew Coscoran Star of the Sea A.C. 31:52
23 David Mansfield Clonmel 31:53
24 Adam Kirk-Smith Derry Track Club 32:02
25 James Dunne (U23) Tullamore Hrs 32:04

David Mellon

Elsewhere David Mellon scored his second consecutive (third in all) win at the Buncrana parkrun, coming home in windy conditions with a 20:22 clocking. David hopes to complete his Malcolm McCausland recorded 24:55.

Mark Quigley showed a continued improvement since joining DTC with a runner-up spot at the Derry City (5.3km) parkrun.

“Tough course!,” said Mark. “Came through 5K at 19:23 so happy enough with that, 20:41 and second place overall.”

Our Paralympic T13 100m champion Jason Smyth has recently received a civic reception in his home village of Eglinton, Co. Derry/Londonderry. Here is the newspaper report https://www.derrynow.com/news/athletics/691993/eglinton-welcomes-six-time-local-paralympic-gold-hero-home.html

We also welcome Stephen Logan as a new member. The NI man is based in South Yorkshire but will be running for us in the NI & Ulster Masters’ XC Champs at the end of January

Stephen Logan

Finally, DTC would also like to welcome Carly Chestnutt who is currently on trial with the club. First impressions are very positive.


Alex Bell lived up to top billing in the Belfast IMC Meeting at the Mary Peters track with the fifth fastest women’s 800m seen in the world this year. But that was just one highlight in an incredible afternoon of world class performances with records and best times being scattered like tenpins. The event was the best of its kind seen at the venue for decades and excellently organised by meeting director Eamonn Christie and his team.

While many athletes are frantically running all over the USA and Europe in search of qualifying times and points, Alex Bell decided to return to Belfast where she had won in 2016. Running on what she describes as her “lucky track”, the Pudsey & Bramley athlete went through the halfway point on the heels of pacemaker Sinead Denny in a swift 58 seconds.

Left on her own at the front and with Georgie Hartigan on her heels, she ploughed on in the lead until the final bend when she managed to distance her pursuer. Showing typical Yorkshire grit, Bell kept the pressure on in the homestraight to break the tape in 1:58.52, an IMC record and fifth fastest in the world in 2021. Behind her Hartigan recorded 2:00.18 for a personal best and, more importantly to her, a family record edging out her mother Bev’s 2:00.39.  

John Fitzsimons (right) gets home of Harry Purcell (24) and Roland Surlis (21)

The Bobby Farren Memorial 800m was also a cracker even in the absence of Irish number one Mark English who opted for races on the continent this week. Kieran Kelly took the pace, taking the field to the 400m mark in 52 seconds when John Fitzsimons took up the running from Harry Purcell and Cavan man Roland Surlis.  

You could have thrown a blanket over the trio right the way to the line with the Kildare man getting the decision by thousands of a second over Purcell, both sharing the same 1:46.53 timing. Surlis was a close-up third in 1:46.74 as the first seven men all recorded personal bests.

Another world class mark came from Phil Healy in the women’s 400m. The Cork woman’s 51.50 clocking put her in the global top 40, but she had to work hard to shake off an inspired Sophie Becker who went under 53 seconds for the first time with a 52.32 mark. Healy had warmed up earlier with a fast 200m in 23.29 (-0.4), to strengthen her claims to a place in the shorter event in Tokyo this August. Cillin Greene led another host of personal bests in the men’s 400m stopping the clocking 46.45.

Another Olympics-bound sprinter Marcus Lawler showed that lockdowns in the Republic had done him no harm as he stretched out to an impressive 20.99 clocking in the men’s 200m. Jacob Olatunde set a new national U23 record in the 100m, stopping the clock at 10.61 in almost still conditions. Molly Scott made short work of the opposition in the 100m with a promising early season 11.91 timing.

The men’s 1500m saw the first three men all record new bests with Darragh McElhinney a clear winner in 3:43.87. Similarly, Carla Sweeney had plenty to spare in the women’s metric mile clocking 4:17.57. Lisnaskea’s Masters’ champion Denise Toner impressed in third with a 4:20.80 mark.

Earlier Michelle Finn had opened the programme with a 9:39.44 3000m steeplechase to consolidate her Olympics ranking and new recruit to Ireland’s distance squad Tonusa Hiko impressed with the fastest 5000m (13:36.71) seen in Belfast for some years.

More than an Athletics Club

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