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.