3 February 2016 – It was another spectacular weekend for Derry Track Club athletes competing at five separate venues taking in cross-country, road and indoor track.
Pride place has to go to Conor McIlveen who recorded a qualifying time for the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro at an indoor meeting in Athlone.
The 26-year-old IT engineer clocked a marvellous 4:51 (exact time not yet confirmed) for 1500m bettering the entry standard for the T38 category in Rio by nine seconds.
Conor Doherty, Cathal McLaughlin and Robert Bigger all recorded more than credible results at the meeting. Conor Doherty all turned out the following day to finish fifth in the national U23 1500m with a 4:20.1 clocking.
That paled in comparison with younger brother Matt who was seventh in the Junior Men’s 1500m in 4:07.40. Although he felt he could have done better in that he missed the break with four laps to go,it was nevertheless an improvement of three seconds on his his previous best for the distance.
In Coleraine Conán McCaughey picked up the club’s second NI & Ulster championship medal of the winter following Amy McDaid’s silver in the Novice cross country back in November.
Conán competed with tenacity throughout a very tough ten kilometre course and ran up against a man in Neil Johnston who was just too good for him on the day.
Here is the report of the race from The Irish News –
A PERFECTLY-JUDGED race saw Springwell’s Neil Johnston land the premier title on offer at the Northern Ireland & Ulster Intermediate and Masters’ Cross Country Championships on his home course at Coleraine.
On a heavy muddy track, the 22-year-old Queens University student bided his time for the first five laps of the 10k race before putting the foot down to overcome the challenge of pre-race favourite Conán McCaughey.
Johnston, McCaughey and Conal McCambridge were in the large leading pack at the end of a fairly subdued opening lap with the team contest even then looking like it could be a close affair.
McCambridge soon moved to the front dragging Johnston and McCaughey with him away from the chasing pack. At the halfway point, it was impossible to tell which of the three was destined to lift the title with teenager McCambridge looking the most comfortable a stride or so ahead of the other pair.
However, the pacemaking started to tell on the game young North Belfast Harrier and it was down to a straight duel between Johnston and the pre-race favourite with two laps to go.
In the end the strength and speed of the 4:11 miler that saw him home ahead of the dogged Derry Track Club runner. The impressive McCambridge held on for third and soon found he had a double reason to celebrate.
In the team competition, it looked as though North Belfast were comfortably ahead of Acorns at one point but a strong finish from the mid Ulster men saw them get to within a point of the Stags when the team scores were tallied.
Across the county in Dungiven, DTC’s Darragh Crossan was burning up the roads in the town’s annual 10K. The Raphoe native covered a very cold and hilly course in 35:27 to win by a remarkable 1:22 over Kieran McElhinney who was on our three-step programme last summer.
Darragh’s time was a personal best by over a minute and augurs well for a sub 34 clocking early in the Spring, possibly at Jimmy’s Run or the Titanic Quarter.
The attention turned to Gifford on Sunday morning where Marty Cox turned in a very confident and relaxed display to win the final race in the Lifford-Strabane 5K Series in 15:50. That was good enough not only see him home first by 16 seconds but also overall series victory.
Hannah McGowan did well to run a personal best 19:01 to win the ladies’ race but that did not prevent Amy McDaid winning the overall series with a fine third place in 20:05, her fastest time of the series.
Cathal McLaughlin impressed with a fifth place in 16:51 to take the overall M45 category prize. Gary McGee showed he is getting back to his very best with a 17:42 timing.
Kevin Connolly grabbed third overall in the M40 category with an 18:13 timing followed by Chris Millar (18:17), Zack McGowan (19:00), Robert Bigger (19:20 – first M55 overall) and Conor McIlveen (20:18).
Malcolm McCausland for DTC.