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.