Derry City Track Club athletes showed no signs of any end of season fatigue as they grabbed another clutch of personal bests at the final track fixture of the year in Belfast. The Derry club’s young stars stole the limelight with fine performances at the Lagan Valley Firmus Super Six Meeting held on the Mary Peters Track.
Teenager Matt Doherty took advantage of the mild conditions to chop over two seconds from his 800m personal best with a 1:56.77 timing for fourth place in the top race of the night. The Bogside youth was in touch from the gun and settled nicely into the pack behind the pacemaker for the opening lap.
He moved wide on the backstraight and challenged for the victory throughout the final furlong. His time was reward was a new personal best and took the 18-year-old to fourth in the NI rankings for his age group. Also impressive was another Derry U20 Shane McGowan who finished a close second in 1:55.30.
“It was obvious that Matt had learned a lot from our recent trip to Manchester,” said DCTC coach Malcolm McCausland. “ Matt did everything right tonight but was simply beaten by better athletes at this moment in time. He has improved enormously this year and he’ll go away now and prepare for the indoor season which starts in January.”
Another teenager Brandon Connolly also caught the eye with a massive personal best in the U17 race. The 16-year-old took over 13 seconds from his previous mark with a 2:09.06 timing. Connolly put in a strong homestraight to clinch the bronze medal spot and will now be looking to target the steeplechase in schools’ competitions next year.
Although 12-year-old Ben Mellon only sliced a few tenths of a second off his 800m best with a 2:44.91 mark, the improvement in his performance was enormous. He was another one who obviously learned from his Manchester experience and attacked the race from the gun.
He held down fourth place in the U13 race for most of the trip but ran out of steam over the last 200m. That did not mean he did not fight all the way to the line and there is no doubt he will be a different athlete with a winter’s work under his belt.
Others to impress on the night were Shaun Deery who ran a sensational last 100m to finish third in the 800m B race and Conor McIlveen who gained an IPC World Championships standard of 2:17.78 in the same race. Andrew Bolster also showed signs of better things to come with a solid run over the 800m distance.