For the third time in as many years Cathal McLaughlin has gone to a major Masters’ international championships and returned with a medal. On this occasion it was the European Masters’ Indoor Championships in Ancona, Italy.
Two years ago it was a bronze medal at the World Indoors in Budapest; last year it was a silver medal in Torun, Poland at the European Indoors. Both of those were over 1500m but this year it was a bronze in the 5K Cross Country.
With only one M40 available for selection, team manager Ann Gormley decided to drop Cathal and Beechmount Harrier Stuart Kennedy down an age group. Her gamble proved successful with Paul Fleming leading the team home in ninth spot followed shortly by Cathal (11th) and Stuart (14th).
Whilst well beaten by Italy and Spain, Ireland easily saw off the challenge of the Czech Republic for the final podium position. Interesting to note that if the northern pair had been allowed to stay in their age group and Paul Cowhie moved down from the M50, it would have resulted in silver medals.
The two other Derry Track Club athletes at the championships also turned in credible performances. Adrian Boyle ran well for 4:26.02 in his heat of the M35 1500m but unfortunately just outside qualification.
Malcolm McCausland was int he first (and slower) series race of the M60 1500m where he finished seventh in 5:25.73.
Meanwhile there was a promising start to the track season for Derry Track Club athletes at the North Down Open Meeting in Bangor held in cold conditions.
And it was that man Marty Cox who caught the eye with a well-judged race to win the top 3000m in 9:01.75. Learning from his experience in Letterkenny (see previous post), the 34-year-old allowed North Belfast Harrier Conal McCambridge to make most of the pacemaking before swooping late on for victory.
Behind him, Conor Doherty also showed he is making rapid steps forward by taking third in 9:12.06. Amy McDaid probably started her 3000m a little too fast but held on well for an 11:28.90 timing.
Chris Millar made a successful switch from trail running to record a respectable 10:05.67 and Kevin Connolly also showed new-found fleet of foot for a 10:48.02 clocking.
Sixteen-year-old Brandon Connolly rivalled Marty Cox for DTC Athlete of the Meeting by winning both his 300m and 600m (40.66/1:33.74). Matt Doherty (1:32.36/41.09) doubled up over the same distances as did Conor McIlveen (44.49/1:39.61) and Robert Bigger (46.31/1:41.68).
Lucy Appleton also impressed in her first race since joining the club by registering a good early season 48.20 timing in the 300m and Marty Cox capped the evening by putting in a fast 43.72 mark in the 300m.
Across in Scotland Conan McCaughey was fourth in the Grangemouth 10K in a personal best 31:06 (15:22/15:44). Winner of the race was Dromore’s Russell White in 31:03.
And our US-based star JP Williamson is currently taking a break having already registered 1:56.32/3:59.77/8:32.21i. He will be home in mid-May and ready for action from the start of June, possibly the Mile Meeting on June 3 or the Acorns Night of 3000m one week later.