1 October 2016
Slick organisation by the Orangegrove club, perfect autumnal weather conditions and some cool running made the sixth annual combined NI & Ulster Road Relay Championships a day to remember.
Derry Track Club grabbed the headlines with a scintillating victory and a new record in the Senior Men’s race but all four titles were fought out to the wire by the 148 teams.
Neil Johnston (9:40) led for Springwell at the end of the first leg of the Senior Men’s race with Dromore’s world-ranked triathlete Russell White (9:44) hot on his heels.
David O’Flaherty (9:57) put in a solid stint on the second leg to leave cross country champions Newcastle in the lead at the halfway point. But behind him JP Williamson (9:48) was doing untold damage for lDerry Track Club up by moving up from eighth to second and now only five seconds in arrears.
That five seconds buffer did survive long as Seamus Lynch (10:05) was soon overhauled by NI Steeplechase champion Adam Kirk-Smith (9:40). Further down the field Commonwealth Games 1500m runner Daniel Mooney (9:53) was hauling Letterkenny back into contention.
Derry Track Club went off with a 20 seconds lead over Newcastle at the final changeover but behind the Mournemen North Belfast and Letterkenny could smell blood.
Despite the handsome lead former Novice cross country champion Conán McCaughey (9:50) did not relent on the final leg increasing the gap to 47 seconds as he broke the tape in 39:22; exactly one minute inside Annadale Striders’ course record from 2012.
Mark McKinstry (10:06) turned in another workmanlike leg for North Belfast and it was good enough to lift the silver medals for the defending champions. Letterkenny were rewarded for the long trip from Donegal with a fine third place in 40:43.
DTC Masters turned in their best ever performance in this event. Although fifth in 2015, their sixth place surpassed that in team spirit and effort.
Cathal McLaughlin (10:40) handed over in fifth before Tim Shiels (10:57) and Adrian Boyle (11:18) improved to fourth at the final changeover. Kevin Connolly (12:07) added a credible last leg to bring the team home in sixth.
2 October 2016
Marina Campbell made an impressive start to the cross country season with a fine silver medal finish at the Donegal Masters’ Championships.
Elaine Connor also caught the eye with a fine debut to competitive athletics by taking 15th.
Donegal Masters XC
1. Fionnuala Diver
2. Marina Murphy
3. Catriona Devine.
15. Elaine Connor