18 February 2016

Marty Cox turned in his best performance to date in a Derry Track Club vest when he finished a close-up fifth in the Open 3000m race at the Armagh International Road Races.

The Omagh man was always just off the leading group but finished strongly to grab fifth place and close the gap on the winner Craig McMeechan (8:48.18) to just a few seconds at the finish line.

Marty Cox was delighted to lead the DTC squad to a convincing team victory in Armagh.
Marty Cox was delighted to lead the DTC squad to a convincing team victory in Armagh.

Cox’s time of 8:55.29 was a personal best and augurs well for upcoming 5K races in Sligo and Derry.  Conan McCaughey made the trip home from university in Scotland to take 9th in 8:58.63.

Next home was Conor Doherty (9:05.93) in 13th followed six places later by his brother Matt Doherty (9:15.16).  Chris Millar (9:50.90) and Gary McGee (9:53.39) completed the scoring sextet in 47th and 51st respectively.

That gave DTC a team score of 144, over 100 points clear of runners-up Armagh with Dromore back in third.

Tim Shiels (centre) showed he is equally adept on the roads by winning the M40 category.
Tim Shiels (centre) showed he is equally adept on the roads by winning the M40 category.

The success stories did not end there. Tim Shiels (9:59.94) was the first M40, Brandon Connolly (10:30.79) showed he was getting back to full fitness,  his father Kevin Connolly (10:38.90) recorded new best figures, Robert Bigger (10:49.88) was runner-up in the M55 category and Rio Paralympic hopeful Conor McIlveen (11:08.70) showed he is on course for a date with destiny in August.

Lily Toorish continued her upward trajectory with a fighting fourth place in the U15 race with Kayla McLaughlin also finishing in the top 30.  There was also a top 30 placing for Ben Mellon in the U15 Boys’ contest. Deirdre Haigney (12:59.38) continued her preparations for the track season with a solid run in the women’s 3000m.

Congratulations also to Gideon Kimosop (14:07.30), who was sixth in the men’s international race, and Tomas Haigney, an impressive winner of the U13 race.  Both have trained with the club recently.

There was little rest for Conan McCaughey who turned out two days later to win the Omagh CBS 10K.

Irish News Report

Race records tumbled at the 26th Armagh International Road Races held on the lightning fast circuit around the Mall in Ireland’s ecclesiastical capital city. Aided by the relatively mild conditions, an unprecedented 66 runners broke 15 minutes in the men’s 5 Kilometres feature race and the evening’s finale, the open 3K, saw 60 men under 10 minutes for the first time.

However, it was the women’s 3K that produced arguably the top performance by an Irish athlete in what was an incredible night’s running. Dunboyne, Co. Meath athlete Sara Treacy had arguably the best run of her career to date to win a star-studded women’s 3K.

Sara Treacy finished strong to take victory in the women's race.
Sara Treacy finished strong to take victory in the women’s race.

Treacy, who has qualified for the Olympics in the Steeplechase, was always in the leading pack before unleashing a devastating sprint over the final 400m which swept her to victory in 9:18.20.

That was well outside Mary Cullen’s 9:07.9 course record from 2013 but augurs well for the season ahead for the Birmingham-based student who achieved her steeplechase qualifying time in Letterkenny last summer.

The minor podium places went to Scots, Sarah Inglis (9:19.01) and Laura Whittle (9:19.27). Eilish McColgan (9:22.58), having her first race in almost two years was fifth with Strabane’s Ann-Marie McGlynn (9:23.64) excelling with a sixth spot.

Kerry O’Flaherty (9:24.59) showed no signs of fatigue from a fast 1500m in Athlone the previous evening as she came through strongly for eighth spot. Armagh’s Fionnuala Ross (9:29.76) was third Northern athlete across the line with a creditable 13th place.

The men’s race went off at a cracking pace with Yannick Michiels racing into a 30 metres lead at one stage. However, the pressure came on from the chasing pack in the later stages and the tall Belgian was overhauled on the run-in by English cross country champion Charlie Hulson.

The 22-year-old Sale Harrier who has reportedly only recovered from injury broke the tape in 14:02.83, albeit slower than David Nightengale’s record of 13:54 in 2009. Michiels (14:02.99) was a deserved second ahead of another English man Highgate Harrier Andy Maud (14:03.17).

Omagh-based Project Africa athlete Gideon Kimosop was in the leading half dozen all the way and held on for fifth in a personal best 14:07.30. Ennis Track Club’s outstanding Junior Kevin Mulcaire (14:14.02) was the first Irish man home in 15th.

At times it is impossible to say or write that the local men’s standard may be at an all-time low without every Northern male with a pair of trainers taking it as a personal insult.

In which case it is suffice to report that Foyle Valley’s Scot Rankin was the first Ulster finisher in 40th recording 14:36.40. City of Lisburn’s Chris Madden (14:48.43) followed shortly in 54th with Springwell’s Neil Johnston (14:51.79) hot on Madden’s heels in 59th, personal bests for both men.

Craig McMeechan
Craig McMeechan

North Down’s national U17 cross country champion Craig McMeechan (8:48.18) turned in a very mature performance to win the Open 3K from Donore Harrier Daragh Fitzgibbon (8:50.81) and Lagan Valley’s Faiscal Mark (8:52.33).

A number of athletes caught the eye in the juvenile races including Omagh Harrier Tomas Haigney, City of Lisburn’s Victoria Lightbody and North Belfast Harrier Rebecca Wallace.

Lily Toorish Takes Bronze Medal at Ulster Schools

10 February 2016

Lily Toorish turned in a polished performance to lift her first first Ulster Secondary Schools Cross Country medal in sunny but cold conditions at Mallusk Playing Fields.

The 13-year-old St. Cecilia’s pupil hit the front early on before losing out on the top two places to a fine pair of contemporaries, Victoria College’s Anna Hill out-sprinted Amelia Kane from Strathearn for the gold medal.

Lily about to sprint away for her bronze medal.
Lily about to sprint away for her bronze medal.

“Lily’s performance epitomised everything I look for in a Derry Track Club athlete,” said Malcolm McCausland who coaches the Eglinton girl assisted by Gary McGee.  “She was aggressive from the gun and even when challenged for third place late in the race she was able to dig in again and sprint away.”

Lily’s reward for her third place is a trip with the Northern Ireland schools’ squad to take part in the under-age races held in conjunction with the London Marathon.

This is the Irish News report of the event:-

James Edgar claimed the Senior Boys’ title at the Ulster Secondary Schools’ Cross Country Championships held in sunny but cold conditions at Mallusk Playing Fields.

L-R: Fintan Stewart, Eoin McCann, James Edgar, Jamie McMeechan
L-R: Fintan Stewart, Eoin McCann, James Edgar, Craig McMeechan

Normally dominant in local competition, the Friends’ School student was made to fight all the way to the line by the tenacious Bangor Grammar’s Craig McMeechan. The pair had been prominent in a group of ten that led at the end of the opening lap.

It was down to five at the halfway point as Lumen Christi’s Fintan Stewart and Rathmore pair Eoin McCann and Christy Conlon stayed in contact with the pre-race favourites. It remained the same with a lap to run and it was only at the top of the final hill that Edgar finally injected the pace.

Normally he would have moved effortlessly away but on this occasion McMeechan matched him stride for stride until Edgar’s speed told in sight of the finish. The impressive Stewart fought clear of the Rathmore duo to take the bronze medal.

Clodagh O'Reilly strides confidently to victory in the Senior Girls's race.
Clodagh O’Reilly strides confidently to victory in the Senior Girls’s race.

Clodagh O’Reilly was the winner of a fairly tame Senior Girls’ race. The Loreto Cavan student took the lead from the gun and was pressed for a while by Limavady Grammar’s Aife McSheffrey and Edel Monaghan from Mount Lourdes in Enniskillen.

While O’Reilly pressed on relentlessly to defend her title, her principal pursuers seemed to settle for the minor places. McSheffrey easily withstood a late challenge from Monaghan for the silver medal.

Patrick McNiff
Patrick McNiff

Patrick McNiff was arguably the most impressive winner of the day as he lightly tiptoed over the mud to dispose of the opposition. The Banbridge Academy pupil was clear from the opening lap with Omagh CBS star Sean Corry left to settle for a fairly distant second spot. Peter Gracey from Aquinas put in a hard-working performance to take third.

Olivia Nelson
Olivia Nelson

A three-way battle was expected in the Intermediate Girls’ race but Olivia Nelson turned the race into a procession from the gun. With the Strathearn girl taking the gold medal, it was left to the Omagh Harrier team mates Niamh Heaney and Enya Haigney to fight out the minor podium places. In the end Heaney from Dean Maguire, Carrickmore prevailed over Loreto Omagh’s Haigney.

Both Junior age group races went to form with St. Colman’s Newry runner Conor Doherty defeating his cross town rival Sean Campbell from Abbey Grammar School who was Minor champion in 2015. Callum McCabe from Our Lady & St. Patrick’s Knock was a good third.

Rebecca Wallace is out on her own in the Junior Girls' race.
Rebecca Wallace is out on her own in the Junior Girls’ race.

Rebecca Wallace was the victor in the war of attrition that was the Junior Girls’ race. After an unremitting battle among the leading group the Wallace High School girl came home ahead of Ballymena Academy’s Katie Agnew and last year’s All-Ireland Schools winner Jane Duffy from Ballybay CS.

Methody’s Matthew Smyth overhauled long-time leader Jakob Swann from Bangor GS to take the Minor Boys’ crown. Armagh Royal’s Joseph Haynes was a close-up third.

Amelia Kane tries to get away from Anna Hill in Minor Girls' contest.
Amelia Kane tries to get away from Anna Hill in Minor Girls’ contest.

The Minor Girls’ race was only decided on the final straight when Victoria College’s Anna Hill moved away from Strathearn’s Amelia Kane after the pair had run shoulder to shoulder for most of the distance. St. Cecilia’s Lily Toorish took the early initiative and was rewarded with the bronze medal.

The Mini titles went to Grosvenor Grammar’s Dylan McBride and Ulster clubs’ U12 champion Victoria Lightbody from Wallace GS. The leading individuals and teams can now look forward to the Irish Schools’ Championships in Sligo on March 5.

Conor for Rio and Other Weekend Successes for DTC Athletes

3 February 2016 – It was another spectacular weekend for Derry Track Club athletes competing at five separate venues taking in cross-country, road and indoor track.

Conor is congratulated by James Nolan coach to Paralympics Ireland.
Conor is congratulated by James Nolan coach to Paralympics Ireland.

Pride place has to go to Conor McIlveen who recorded a qualifying time for the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro at an indoor meeting in Athlone.

The 26-year-old IT engineer clocked a marvellous 4:51 (exact time not yet confirmed) for 1500m bettering the entry standard for the T38 category in Rio by nine seconds.

Conor Doherty, Cathal McLaughlin and Robert Bigger all recorded more than credible results at the meeting.  Conor Doherty all turned out the following day to finish fifth in the national U23 1500m with a 4:20.1 clocking.

That paled in comparison with younger brother Matt who was seventh in the Junior Men’s 1500m in 4:07.40.  Although he felt he could have done better in that he missed the break with four laps to go,it was nevertheless an improvement of three seconds on his his previous best for the distance.

In Coleraine Conán McCaughey picked up the club’s second NI & Ulster championship medal of the winter following Amy McDaid’s silver in the Novice cross country back in November.

Conán competed with tenacity throughout a very tough ten kilometre course and ran up against a man in Neil Johnston who was just too good for him on the day.

Here is the report of the race from The Irish News –

A PERFECTLY-JUDGED race saw Springwell’s Neil Johnston land the premier title on offer at the Northern Ireland & Ulster Intermediate and Masters’ Cross Country Championships on his home course at Coleraine.

Conán (left) track Conal McCambridge and Neil Johnston.
Conán (left) tracks Conal McCambridge and Neil Johnston.

On a heavy muddy track, the 22-year-old Queens University student bided his time for the first five laps of the 10k race before putting the foot down to overcome the challenge of pre-race favourite Conán McCaughey.

Johnston, McCaughey and Conal McCambridge were in the large leading pack at the end of a fairly subdued opening lap with the team contest even then looking like it could be a close affair.

McCambridge soon moved to the front dragging Johnston and McCaughey with him away from the chasing pack. At the halfway point, it was impossible to tell which of the three was destined to lift the title with teenager McCambridge looking the most comfortable a stride or so ahead of the other pair.

However, the pacemaking started to tell on the game young North Belfast Harrier and it was down to a straight duel between Johnston and the pre-race favourite with two laps to go.

In the end the strength and speed of the 4:11 miler that saw him home ahead of the dogged Derry Track Club runner. The impressive McCambridge held on for third and soon found he had a double reason to celebrate.

In the team competition, it looked as though North Belfast were comfortably ahead of Acorns at one point but a strong finish from the mid Ulster men saw them get to within a point of the Stags when the team scores were tallied.

Across the county in Dungiven, DTC’s Darragh Crossan was burning up the roads in the town’s annual 10K.  The Raphoe native covered a very cold and hilly course in 35:27 to win by a remarkable 1:22 over Kieran McElhinney who was on our three-step programme last summer.

Darragh shows a clean pair of heels to the opposition in Dungiven.
Darragh shows a clean pair of heels to the opposition in Dungiven.

Darragh’s time was a personal best by over a minute and augurs well for a sub 34 clocking early in the Spring, possibly at Jimmy’s Run or the Titanic Quarter.

The attention turned to Gifford on Sunday morning where Marty Cox turned in a very confident and relaxed display to win the final race in the Lifford-Strabane 5K Series in 15:50.  That was good enough not only see him home first by 16 seconds but also overall series victory.

The happy Derry Track Club athletes with their haul of prizes after the conclusion of the Lifford-Strabane 5K Series
The happy Derry Track Club athletes with their haul of prizes after the conclusion of the Lifford-Strabane 5K Series

Hannah McGowan did well to run a personal best 19:01 to win the ladies’ race but that did not prevent Amy McDaid winning the overall series with a fine third place in 20:05, her fastest time of the series.

Cathal McLaughlin impressed with a fifth place in 16:51 to take the overall M45 category  prize. Gary McGee showed he is getting back to his very best with a 17:42 timing.

Kevin Connolly grabbed third overall in the M40 category with an 18:13 timing followed by Chris Millar (18:17), Zack McGowan (19:00), Robert Bigger (19:20 – first M55 overall) and Conor McIlveen (20:18).

Malcolm McCausland for DTC.