Amy McDaid showed she was back to her best with a battling silver medal at the Ulster Novice Cross Country Championships in Stranorlar. The Creggan woman only returned to the sport in recentafter a year in Australia and was the only athlete from the city to pick up an individual medal.
Amy started cautiously in the four kilometre race held on a demanding muddy circuit around the playing fields of the Finn Valley Leisure Centre. While team mate Hannah McGowan cut out the pace at the front of the field, the Derry Track Club captain was content to sit back in fifth position.
Hannah continued to lead going into the second and final circuit but the gap that was once 40 metres was now down to five. Behind her, Amy had improved to third, hot on the heels of Acorns AC runner Natalie Hall. As the brave Hannah started to fade back through the field, it came down to a straight head to head between Hall and McDaid.
In the end, Hall prevailed due to a superior endurance that had taken her to a 3:12 marathon in September. Nevertheless Amy was delighted with her runner-up spot, just 14 seconds behind the winner, and her first Ulster medal at this level.
Although slipping back to fifth at the finish line, Hannah can also take consolation from a brave display and showing character that will no doubt reap its reward in the very near future.
Derry Track Club was also represented for the first time in the men’s race, taking sixth place behind a talented quartet from St. Malachy’s in Belfast. No one excelled but all six runners did a sound job in the sticky conditions.
Club captain Darragh Crossan led the squad home in 24th, followed closely by Adrian Boyle in 28th. Tim Shiels (37th) and Kevin Connolly (40th) completed the scoring quartet while Zac McGowan (47th) and Shaun Deery (50th) provided valuable back up support.
There were three DTC athletes in action in the juvenile races. Matt Doherty was disappointed with his tenth place in the U19 race after deciding to go to the front from the gun; Brandon Connolly never got to grips with the going in the U17 race, finishing 59th, and Sean McIntyre was 22nd in the U15 contest.
Earlier a contingent of the club’s athletes were in action at the Derry City parkrun (all small letters) on Saturday morning. Conor Doherty took the opportunity to stretch his legs in competition after putting in a solid block of speedwork and was rewarded with a new parkrun record of 16:18.
Clubmate Cathal McLaughlin was next across the line in 17:30 as he prepares for this weekend’s British & Irish Cross Country International in Dublin. The Derry Track young lions also showed their teeth with 13-year-old Ben Mellon chopped over two minutes from his best with a 20:53 timing.
Lily Toorish, one year younger than Ben, cruised to a 21:13 and another 13-year-old Kayla McLaughlin also impressed with a 22:07 on her parkrun debut. Robert Bigger (19:17) and Malcolm McCausland (21:23) also turned in valuable training runs.