31 July 2018

Leon Reid has his fingers crossed that he will be cleared to run in Berlin.

It is a race against time for sprinter Leon Reid who was provisionally named yesterday in Ireland’s 41-strong team to compete in the European Athletics Championships that start next week in Berlin.

The Bath-based athlete received the good news last Friday that the IAAF was lifting the embargo on transfers between national federations imposed in March of last year.

Reid had represented Great Britain in Junior and U23 age groups winning medals at European level before deciding to switch his allegiance to Ireland, qualifying on the basis of his Belfast-born mother.

Despite Reid’s transfer being one of the first caught in the transfer freeze, he was still eligible to represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, winning a bronze medal in the 200m.

However, it did result in him being in international limbo for almost 18 months and meant he missed last year’s world championships in London and the world indoors in Birmingham this March.

Reid will now be permitted to make that switch under the new IAAF rules and he confirmed after Sunday’s national championships that the paperwork had already been despatched by Athletics Ireland.

But it is unclear whether the paperwork will processed in time by the IAAF to permit the Menapians athlete make his debut in an Ireland vest at the Euros which are now only seven days away.

In Reid’s possible absence Thomas Barr and Ciara Mageean look to be Ireland’s main medal hopes in what is possibly the largest ever team for these championships.

Thomas Barr impressed at the national championships on Sunday when he raced to a meeting record as he took his eighth consecutive 400m hurdles title. The Waterford is currently ranked joint fifth in the event following his 48.99 seconds clocking at the recent Mueller Games in London.

Ciara Mageean is named in the 1500m after her victory over that distance at the championships where she also lifted the 800m crown. The Portaferry woman looked to be back to her very best as she controlled both race which were run off within the space of 75 minutes.

Mageean is currently listed eighth in Europe but at least two of those faster than her may not compete in the German capital leaving the road open for the UCD AC to repeat the podium place she achieved two years ago in Amsterdam.

The following athletes have been selected to compete at the European Athletics Championships in Berlin from 6th to 12th August (Ulster athletes in bold)



Phil Healy (Bandon AC) 100m & 200m, Gina Akpe-Moses (Blackrock AC-Louth) 100m, Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (DSD AC) 800m, Claire Mooney (UCD AC) 800m, Ciara Mageean (UCD AC) 1500m, Emma Mitchell (Queens University AC) 10,000m, Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle & District AC) 3000m steeplechase, Michelle Finn (Leevale AC) 3000m steeplechase, Breege Connolly (City of Derry) marathon, Gladys Ganiel (North Belfast Harriers AC) marathon, Laura Graham (Mourne Runners AC) marathon, Lizzie Lee (Leevale AC) marathon,

4x100m relay panel: Phil Healy (Bandon AC), Gina Akpe-Moses (Blackrock-Louth), Ciara Neville (Emerald AC), Joan Healy (Bandon AC), Niamh Whelan (Ferrybank AC), Molly Scott (SLOT AC)

4x400m relay: Davicia Patterson (Beechmount Harriers AC), Claire Mooney (UCD AC), Sophie Becker (St. Joseph’s AC), Sinead Denny (DSD AC), Ciara Deely (KCH AC), Catherine McManus (DCH AC)


Marcus Lawler (SLOT AC) 200m, Chris O’Donnell (North Sligo AC) 400m, Zak Curran (DSD AC) 800m, Mark English (UCD AC) 800m, Stephen Scullion (Clonliffe Hrs) 10,000m, Ben Reynolds (North Down AC) 110m hurdles, Thomas Barr (Ferrybank AC) 400m hurdles, Adam McMullen (Crusaders AC) long Jump, Cian McManamon (Westport AC) 20km Walk, Alex Wright (Leevale AC) 20km Walk, Brendan Boyce (Finn Valley AC) 50km Walk, Sergiu Ciobanu (Clonliffe Harriers AC) marathon, Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock AC) marathon, Sean Hehir (Rathfarnham WSAF AC) marathon, Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders AC) marathon, Kevin Seaward (St Malachy’s AC) marathon,

4x400m relay: Chris O’Donnell (North Sligo AC), Brandon Arrey (Raheny Shamrock AC), Thomas Barr (Ferrybank AC), Craig Newell (Ballymena & Antrim AC), Andrew Mellon (Crusaders AC), Dara Kervick (DSD AC)


30 July 2018

Adam receives his medal from AI President Georgina Drumm (right)

DTC’s Adam Kirk Smith was a class apart from the rest of the field in successfully defending his 3000m steeplechase title at a cold and wet Morton Stadium in Dublin.

The London-based athlete crossed the finish line in 9:02.09 to take the gold medal comfortably ahead of the opposition.

Leon Reid completed the sprint double but faces an anxious wait to see if he can represent Ireland at next month’s European Championships.

The Bath-based sprinter was heartened to hear on Friday that the IAAF was lifting the embargo on transfers between national federations imposed in March of last year.

Reid had represented Great Britain at Junior and U23 level winning medals at European level before deciding to switch his allegiance to Ireland on the basis of his Belfast-born mother.

Unfortunately for him, Reid’s transfer was one of the first caught in the freeze meaning he has been in international limbo for almost 18 months although he was eligible to represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year winning a bronze medal in the 200m.

The new IAAF rules on Friday will allow the Birchfield Harrier to make that switch but it is unclear whether the paperwork can be done and processed in time to see Reid make his debut in an Ireland vest at the Euros which start on August 7.

The IAAF president, Lord Sebastian Coe, said after the meeting in Buenos Aires that those athletes who submitted applications before international transfers were halted will have to submit complete “new paperwork” and make a “declaration which will then go forward to the panel for approval or otherwise”.  Whether this can be done in time for Reid to line-up in Berlin remains to be seen.

Reid opened his account on Saturday afternoon when he had to come back from two metres down at the bend to catch Marcus Lawler in a thrilling 200m race. Only five-hundredths of a second separated the pair at the line as Reid registered a 20.74 mark into a slight breeze.

He followed that up with an even more impressive performance yesterday when he won the 100m in cold conditions, and into a strong headwind (-2.1 m/s), in a brisk 10.42 seconds.

Northern athletes made their usual mark at the championships. Ciara Mageean ran a solid tactical race to win the women’s 800m in 2:07.93. The Portaferry woman was back on the track 75 minutes later for the 1500m that turned out to be a very tactical affair.

Newcastle’s Kerry O’Flaherty led until 200m to go when Mageean took control and comfortably held off a fast-finishing Amy O’Donoghue with QUB student Emma Mitchell taking the bronze medal. The winning time was only 4:22.47 but enough for UCD AC athlete to land the first women’s 800/1500m double since the great Sonia O’Sullivan in 2000.

Letterkenny’s Mark English showed a return to form after stepping off the track on the final bend of the 800m at the Morton Meeting in winning his fifth two lap title in 1:50.82.  Bellaghy’s Adam McMullen retained his long jump title with a best effort of 7.68m.

Other Ulster winners on Saturday included Clonliffe Harrier Stephen Scullion (10,000m) and QUB AC’s Emma Mitchell (5000m).

Local track action centred on the Meadowbank Sports Arena in Magherafelt where Acorns AC hosted an excellent early morning meeting with 1500m and 3000m distances contested.

Both A races had close finishes with Matthew Neill seeing off Omagh neighbour Jack Moore to win the metric mile in 4:13.3 while Peter Gracey took third.

Newcomer Bernard McCullagh impressed in the top 3000m race sprinting away from accomplished athletes Eoin Hughes and Glenn Donnelly on the last lap to stop the clock at 9:02.4.

DTC athletes made their presence felt with John McQuade showing he was getting back to top form after a lay-off through injury.  The Omagh man clocked 4:20.12 for fifth in the 1500m A race.

Cathal McLaughlin (4:40.52)  and Conor (Big Dawg) McIlveen (4:50.99) finished 1-2 in the 1500m B race.  Robert Bigger (4:53.19), Elaine Connor (5:11.40) and David Mellon (5:24.38) also recorded good marks.




16 July 2018

Sommer proudly holds her World Junior silver medal.

Castlederg teenager Sommer Lecky yesterday put the perfect cap on an incredible two weeks for Irish athletics when she took a silver medal in the high jump at the 17th IAAF World Junior (U20) Championships in Tampere, Finland.  Lecky cleared 1.90m at the first attempt to clinch second spot behind Belarussian Karyna Taranda who went on to get over 1.92m.

The Irish relay girls.

Earlier on Saturday afternoon the Irish squad of Mollie Scott, Gina Akpe-Moses, Ciara Neville and Patience Jumbo Gula had raced to silver medals in the 4 x 100m behind Germany in another national record of 43.90 seconds. That was the first time Ireland had won relay medals in an international championships outside student games competitions.

The two silver medals immediately doubled Ireland’s medal tally in the 32 year existence of these championships with only Antoine Burke (1994/high jump) and Ciara Mageean (2010/1500m) having visited the presentation podium before now.

The success at these championships follows the unprecedented medal haul of three gold and one silver medal at the European U18 championships in Gyor, Hungary the previous week when Sarah Healy did the 1500m/3000m double, Rhasidat Adeleke won the 200m and Sophie O’Sullivan finished second in the 800m.

Lecky’s 1.90m clearance was not only a personal best by four centimetres but also a national Junior record and the second highest ever by an Irish female athlete behind Deirdre Ryan’s 1.95m. It followed a first time clearance at 1.75m, a second time over 1.80m, back to a first time 1.84m and 1.87m at the second attempt.

The 1.90m success at the first time of asking was decisive in deciding the silver medal with Colombia’s Maria Fernanda Murillo having to take two shots to achieve the height. That meant the Finn Valley athlete took the runner-up spot on fewer jumps.

“Well I knew I could jump it (1.90m), I just told my mind I can jump it,” said the incredulous 18-year-old after the medal presentation. “I can’t think what to say right now. I can’t believe it even though I’ve got it (the medal).”

The focus at home was on the George V Ryan Meeting in Dublin where northern athletes were in good form. Ballymena & Antrim sprinter Dean Adams was the clear winner of the 100m in 10.94 seconds (+0.2), QUB’s Ben Maze was runner-up in the 400m with a 49.15 seconds mark and Letterkenny’s Darren McBrearty was third in the 800m in 1:52.79.

North Down’s Craig McMeechan took a huge chunk off his personal best with a 3:52.41 clocking for fourth in a very competitive 1500m and clubmate Rachel Gibson was third in the women’s metric mile in 4:29.38. East Down’s Neil McCartan followed up an impressive 1500m performance during the week with a massive personal best of 8:27.73 in the 3000m.

DTC had two athletes competing at the meeting. Conor McIlveen copper-fastened his claims to a late call-up for the IPC European Championships in Berlin with a 58.13 mark in the 400m. John McQuade set a seasonal best of 4:23.80 in the 1500m.

There was no disputing the fastest road race of the weekend with Conor Bradley (14:55) and Ann-Marie McGlynn (16:17) lifting the top prizes in the Rathmullan 5K in Donegal.  DTC’s Ben Mellon recorded an encouraging 19:23 while his dad David broke 20 minutes for the first time with a 19:53 mark.

In  London Annadale Striders’ marathon Olympian Paul Pollock eased himself back into competition after a four month absence with a modest 31:41 clocking for 14th place in the British 10K won by Welshman Dewi Griffiths in 29:41.

Elaine continued her winning streak in Newcastle.

Elsewhere DTC’s Elaine Connor was first woman home in the Sea2Sky in Newcastle and Robert Bigger registered 19:33 at the Derry City parkrun.


Athletics clubs can look forward to doing a lot more form-filling and less running/throwing/jumping in future following a government edict. The Charity Commissioners for Northern Ireland require that all amateur clubs come forward to register as charities or they risk falling foul of the law.

In response to a query from The Irish News , the Charity Commissioners issued this statement:-

“In order to address this question it is important to first understand if the sports club meets the legal definition of a charity. The Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 defines a charity as an organisation that: 

  • has exclusively charitable purposes (its purposes fit within one or more of 12 descriptions of purpose listed in the Act, which include the advancement of amateur sport, and are for the public benefit)
  • is governed by the law of Northern Ireland
  • is an institution, that is, it is an organisation that is an independent body, the hallmarks of which include having control and direction over its governance and resources.

If the sports club is capable of meeting the legal definition then it must apply to be registered either as a charity or as a CASC (the choice of which, CASC or charity, is up to the club).

As most athletics clubs in Northern Ireland do not own any club premises or have a taxable source of income, it would seem sensible for them to opt for the latter which would seem to incur less compliance work. To register as a CASC you must provide facilities for eligible sports and encourage people to take part. Under the new rules from 1 April 2015, at least 50% of members must take part in the sport.

Among the requirements are that the club has a formal constitution, known as a governing document, and be open to the whole community. It must also be organised on an amateur basis, have affordable fees and provide facilities in the UK, the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway (but in one country only).

It is the club’s decision whether to register as a CASC or a charity but it needs to be aware that this can be an irrevocable step. Once a charity, it is always a charity. And operating as a charity also brings with it additional regulation and compliance with charity law.

For example, the management committee of the club are charity trustees and have duties to ensure that the club operates for the benefit of the public. However, a club can revoke CASC status and register as a charity but not vice versa.

The Charity Commissioners have also pointed that their concern is not any potential loss of revenue – that is a matter for HMRC – they merely want to ensure that sports clubs are compliant with the law. In any case, all amateur sports clubs must act immediately to avoid breaking the law.


All athletics clubs in the North must register with the Charity Commissioners for Northern Ireland if they do not wish to be in breach of the law. Let’s look at the pros and cons of registering as a charity.

The major advantage of course is that charities do not normally have to pay income/corporation tax, capital gains tax or stamp duty. Gifts to charities are also free of inheritance tax and charities pay no more than 20% of normal business rates on the buildings they occupy. They can also get special VAT treatment in some circumstances and are often able to raise funds from the public, grant-making trusts and local government more easily than non-charitable bodies.

However, there are restrictions on what charities can do, both in terms of the types of work they do, and the ways in which they can operate. A charity must have exclusively charitable purposes meaning that some organisations that may have a range of activities, some of which are not charitable may have stop its non-charitable activities.

Trustees are not allowed to receive financial benefits from the charity they manage unless this is specifically authorised by the governing document of the charity or by the charity commission. Financial benefits include salaries, services or the awarding of business contracts to a trustee’s own business from the charity.

Benefits in lieu of salary etc. are not permitted either but trustees are entitled to be reimbursed for their reasonable out-of-pocket expenses, for example, travel costs to trustee meetings. Trustees must also need to avoid any situation where their personal interests conflict with those of the charity. Charity law imposes strict financial reporting obligations that vary with the size of the charity.

PART THREE – Registering as a Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC)

We informed above that all amateur sports clubs are required to come forward for registration with the Charity Commissioners for Northern Ireland.  We have also outlined the pros and cons of registering as a charity. In the final part of three, we look at how registering as a Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) might be the best way forward  for most clubs and associations.

Registering as a CASC can benefit a club in a number of ways not least exemption to corporation tax where turnover in less than £30,000. That is to say if a club makes a profit of say £8000 on a race and the gross income was less than £30,000, there will be no liability.  Clubs can also claim back tax on gifts received but not on annual subscriptions.

However, clubs have to satisfy a number of conditions to be accepted as a CASC including:-

  • It has a formal written constitution;
  • Its membership and facilities are open to the whole community;
  • Its main purpose must be the promotion of participation in, one or more eligible sports;
  • It must be organised on an amateur basis;
  • It is managed by fit and proper persons.

It should be noted that the club’s constitution must state that on dissolution any net assets are to be applied to approved sporting and charitable purposes. The “open to the whole community” means that that the club’s membership and facilities must be open to all without discrimination.

Fees, if charged, must not represent a significant obstacle to membership or use of the club’s facilities. In other words the cannot effectively debar a section of the community by charging extortionate rates of membership. HMRC will normally accept that a club is non-profit making if it can be demonstrated that all profits are reinvested in the club.

Cross border clubs should be aware that the sports club can provide facilities only in a single EU Member State. Individuals convicted of tax fraud or disqualified from acting as a charity trustee are not considered “fit and proper” in this context and would that an application would almost certainly fail. Perhaps, and possibly most important of all, clubs that register as CASCs cannot cancel that registration i.e. once a CASC, always a CASC.


22 June 2018

Jason Smyth has a rival to the title of fastest Paralympian on the planet.

Jason Smyth’s standing as “the fastest Paralympian on the planet” is under threat with Brazil’s Petrúcio Ferreira reeling off some exciting times at last week’s World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Paris.

Jason Smyth

Ferreira moved even closer to becoming the fastest Paralympian ever as he smashed his own world record in the men’s 100 metres T47 event. Quickly out of the blocks, Ferreira made winning look easy as he crossed the finish line in 10.50 seconds on the second and final day of competition.

The result means Ferreira is now just 0.04 seconds shy of Smyth’s time set at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, a time that firmly established the Derry Track Club athlete  as the fastest Paralympian of all-time.

“I want to do 10.46 or under – maybe at the World Championships next year, it is a great event,” Ferreira, who set the previous 100m T47 world record of 10.53 at the London 2017 World Championships, said.  “My target is to always improve, and this time proves that.”

More Success for Big Dawg.

Other highlights of the Paris meeting included Ireland’s world and Paralympic silver medallist Niamh McCarthy smashing the European discus F41 record she set at the Rieti Grand Prix in Italy last month. McCarthy got out to 32.67m with with her sixth and final effort. Derry man Conor McIlveen finished fourth in the 200m setting an Irish T38 record before taking third in the 400m.


16 June 2018

Four-time Paralympic gold medallist Michael McKillop has confirmed he will miss the IPC European Championships in Berlin this August through injury. The 28-year-old Glengormley athlete has been plagued by a tear to a groin injury since before last year’s IPC World Championships in London. At one point it looked like his competitive career could be over but fortunately he is now on the mend and targeting next year’s Worlds in the United Arab Emirates.

“It took a long while to find a solution but we’ve got the issue sorted out,” said McKillop. “It’s been a long road, a frustrating road. The consultant said it was a common football injury and a career-ending one at that. I’m still wondering how I did it because I don’t do any other sport except running because the likelihood of getting injured is high.”

“I am frustrated that I can’t go to the Europeans this year. In the past I could come back from niggles and win with very little training but the standard in Paralympic sport is at such a high level now, you just can’t rock up and potentially win. You’ve got to be on the top of your game particularly when you’re getting older and not running the times you did when you were 21/22.”

Jason Smyth, left, and Michael McKillop of Ireland Gold Medal Winners during the 2017 Para Athletics World Championships at the Olympic Stadium in London. Photo by Luc Percival/Sportsfile *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

McKillop has had a troublesome time with injury since winning the 800m and 1500m in London where he was awarded the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award. This is presented at each Paralympics to the male and female athlete who “best exemplify the spirit of the Games and inspire and excite the world”. In an emotional scene, many will remember his mother arriving in the arena to present him with the award.

McKillop had a good season the following year but suffered injuries in 2013 and 2014. Nevertheless, he still managed double gold at the Europeans in Swansea in the latter year. Similarly, both 2015 and 2016 were patchy from a fitness point of view but he used his racing acumen to score a double again at the Worlds and the 800m at the Paralympics in Rio.

Even his victories in the 800m and 1500m at the IPC World Championships in London last year did not come without difficulty. He suffered the groin injury just before the event and had to take painkillers throughout the championships.

The North Belfast Harrier will now focus on getting back for next year’s IPC World Championships in Dubai but still intends to hang up his spikes after the Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020.

“My plan now is to retire after Tokyo and that is my ambition and I’ve said that for a number of years. Along this journey (since the injury) I didn’t know if I would get back running. Whenever it went on longer and longer, I thought is there much point really to persevere especially when nothing seemed to be working?

“I’ve been pain-free now for three months and I’m rehabbing really well but I know in the next couple of years it’s going to be hard to keep on winning but that is my desire. I’ve enjoyed my journey to date and I’ll continue to do that until Tokyo 2010. I go into championships to win and I want to continue to do that too,” concluded McKillop.


The good news this week is that the Great Rossa Run will be back again this year on July 8 with a starting time of 10:00am. Now into its fifth edition, the event on the shores of Lough Neagh has distances to cater for all types of runners with a 5K, 10K and half marathon all on the programme.

Organised by Shane Mallon and his team, this year’s Great Rossa Run is expected to attract more than last year’s record 700. In addition to the serious competitive races, there will also be a 5K walk/fun run for families who wish to take part. All routes have been subject to professional measurement and are now accredited as exact distances.

Prize money of over £1,500 is on offer the leading finishers in all three races with category prizes for first and second in the 10K and half marathon in the over 45 and over 55 age groups. A proportion of each entry fee is being donated to three local charities. The three races will be professionally chip-timed and all finishers will receive a special commemorative medal.

Registration can be effected via the NI Athletics Website ( Collection of pre-registered race numbers will be in Ardboe Parish Centre (1 Mullinahoe Road, Ardboe, Co Tyrone. BT71 5AT) on the morning of the run. The Parish Centre will be open from 7.00am on race morning with late entries taken for all the runs 8:00am – 9:30am.





9 June 2018

Jason Smyth was the only DTC athlete in action at the NI & Ulster Senior Track & Field Championships held on the Mary Peters track.  Jason was champion in 2016 but had to settle for the runner-up spot on this occasion despite a courageous performance.

Jason Smyth

Aaron Sexton deposed Jason as the top local sprinter after an electric duel between the pair.  The Bangor youngster followed up a record-breaking double at the Irish School the previous week by taking the 100m title from Smyth who has been the fastest northern sprinter for at least a decade.

The 30-year-old Eglinton man had qualified fastest from the heats and was first away in the final after his trademark explosion from the blocks.  Smyth was still ahead at 70 metres but the taller and younger Sexton (17) got up to snatch victory the line as both men shared the same 10.69 (-0.6) seconds clocking. Neither appeared later for an expected second shoot-out in the 200m.

There were few bright spots in a programme that ran to over eight hours and some of these were supplied by a rising wave of talented youngsters. Lauren Roy (17) won the women’s 100m while Davicia Patterson, also 17, took the women’s 200m.

Other highlights included Conall Kirk using gun-to-tape tactics to win the men’s 800m posting an impressive 1:50.69 timing. NI 10,000m record holder Emma Mitchell dropped down in distance to win the women’s 1500m while Springwell’s Neil Johnston was the winner of the men’s metric mile.

Marathon champion Laura Graham made a rare appearance on the track, leading all the way until the last lap of the women’s 5000m before being overhauled by the stylish Jessica Craig who went on to win in 17:12.84.

The men’s 5000m was probably the best supported race of the day and one of the most exciting, despite being held in a downpour, as Conor Bradley prevailed over former Irish champion Conor Duffy in a modest 14:57.59.

England-based NI athlete Mollie Courtney was a class apart in the 100m hurdles recording a creditable 13.69 seconds while Ben Reynolds successfully defended the men’s 110m hurdles title in 14.19 seconds as the rain started to fall.

The men’s long jump was indisputably the best of the field events with Adam McMullen bouncing back to form after several disappointing early season performances to get out to a seasonal best of 7.79m.