28 May 2018

Derry Track Club had four teams in action at the hugely enjoyable Carrickmore Mile Relay Championships organised by Michael Kerr and his team of Carmen Runners.

Newcomers to the event, Finn Valley, made an immediate mark with victories in the Senior Men’s and Mixed races. A strong Omagh Harriers quartet took the Senior Women’s title while the fastest mile of the night was recorded by Finn Valley’s Gerard Gallagher with a record-breaking 4:28 mark.

The DTC women get ready for battle.

The DTC Senior Men finished an excellent fourth overall with Paul Barbour impressing on the second leg with a 4:53 timing.  Adrian Boyle (4:59), Cathal McLaughlin (5:07) and John McQuade (5:16), returning from injury, all made sound contributions.

Stars of the night, from a DTC perspective, were the U17 squad who finished an astonishing seventh overall of the 56 teams!  Dan Haigney (15) got the show on the road with a first leg of 5:04 before handing over to Sé Heaney (15) who caught the eye with a 5:13 split.  Dylan Doherty (16) and Ben Mellon (15) completed the job with 5:41 and 5:39 timings respectively.

The Senior Women were no less impressive finishing 20th overall and third women’s team, just 12 seconds behind runners-up St. Peter’s, Lurgan.  Enya Haigney opened with a 5:48 clocking before handing over to Elaine Connor (5:51) who just gets better with every outing.  New girls Michelle Donnelly (5:57) and Kelly O’Neill (5:53) showed they will be forces to reckon with in the months and hopefully years ahead in the green vest.

Our mixed team also competed with distinction with 60-year-old Robert Bigger returning a fantastic opening leg of 5:26. David Mellon  (6:11) looked composed on the second circuit before Kayla McLaughlin (6:50) and Lara Smailes (6:41) brought the baton safely home in 30th spot.

Tomás collects his award.

The action switched to the Mary Peters Track the following day and we did not have long to wait before we had our first win as 13-year-old Tomás Haigney romped to a comfortable victory in the U14 1000m in 3:02. 

Enya approaches the bell in the 800m.

Enya Haigney showed signs of tiredness from the previous evening’s action in Carrickmore as she faded in the closing stages of a graded 800m.

DTC club chairman was also there to present the prize for his company’s E & I Engineering-sponsored mile.  There was no sub-four clocking but no-one complained after an enthralling afternoon of competition at the Irish Milers’ Club Belfast meeting.

Although Daniel Mooney was denied his first ever sub-four minute mile by a combination of a slow opening lap and breezy conditions, the Letterkenny athlete treated the appreciative crowd were treated to an impressive display of front running.

Mooney was paced through the opening circuit in a slow 62 seconds. Although training partner Conor Bradley dug deep to drag him to the bell in 3:04, the magical three-something mark eluded the game Donegal man who eventually crossed the line in 4:06.88.

The expected challenge from Dan Tanui never materialised as the Kenyan, who was second in this year’s Belfast City Marathon, faded to third on the final lap. Lagan Valley’s Conall Kirk finished strongly to claim the runner-up spot in 4:14.65 to Tanui’s 4:17.07.

DTC’s five-time Paralympic sprint champion Jason Smyth was due to compete at the meeting but he had more serious but then joyful matters on his mind as his wife Elise gave birth to their second child.  That more than made up for the disappointment later in the day when his beloved Liverpool FC lost out in the final of the Champions League to the nasty Real Madrid.

Elsewhere Adam Kirk-Smith cemented his claim to a place at this year’s European Championships when he clocked a great early season time of 8:44.98 in Oordegem, Belgium.  The London-based athlete may compete again in Huelva, Spain on June 8.

And finally, a fond farewell to Conán McCaughey who is now domiciled in Belfast and likely to be for some time.  He has wisely decided to join a club closer to his new home and he goes with our best wishes for both his work and his running careers.  He will be remembered as  “our little tiger” for his tenacious approach to racing and remain close to our hearts.  Our loss is the gain of North Belfast Harriers – we hope they appreciate him!