Dundalk IT hosted the National Masters& Intermediate cross country championships on Sunday and proved to be a very rewarding venue for athletes from North West clubs, City of Derry Spartans, Foyle Valley, Springwell and Inishowen AC, with the red vests bagging a grand total of 15 medals from a total 17 brought home to the North West from the competitive four race programme. 11 Gold, 1 Silver and 3 Bronze made sure the City of Derry Spartans made their presence felt!
Staged on a very sticky if flattish course, the inform Declan Reed comprehensively made it three male Masters 35-49 individual titles on the trot , running away from the large field to post yet another impressive overall win and the M40 gold. Behind the flying Spartan in a marvellous fourth overall was the equally impressive M50 winner, Inishowen AC’s Pauric McKinney and for good measure Foyle Valley’s Chris McGuinness grabbed the M35 silver with a big run for sixth overall.
In the M60 age group Springwell’s Gerry O’Doherty took individual silver and City of Derry’s Peter Lilburn clinched a richly deserved individual bronze as the eye catching performances continued.
Earlier in the combined female Masters and M65+ runners, M70 Gerry Lynch strode to an easy age group win while F50′s Hannah Shields and Anne Paul claimed gold and bronze in their age group. It got even better when brilliant support from Claire Connor and Paula McGilloway pushed the Spartans quartet to F50 Inter County gold and Inter Club silver. Three medals each for Hannah and Anne and a brace each for Claire and Paula and Roisin Lynch F65 individual gold—what’s not to like about that!
Catherine Whoriskey rounded off the medal bonanza in the Women’s Intermediate race with a gutsy run for the individual bronze, after blasting away on the opening lap and then battling tenaciously to claim her first ever championship medal at National level. Another big run following her great effort at the Antrim International XC the previous Saturday and she has certainly established herself as one to watch.
Two other athletes came close to medals, M45 Colin Roberts finished fourth in his age group, missing a podium spot by just four seconds and F45 Jackie McMonagle had her best ever run at this level, her sixth place finish an excellent effort in a very competitive age group.
At Raphoe 5k as part of the Lifford series Spartan Emmett McGinty was a close up 3rd in a tightly contested race. Mc Ginty who continues his comeback trail from a lengthy injury was in the mix up to 500m to go but ran out of gas as Mark Hoy and Martin Cox got away.
Hoy held on for the win in 15.52, Cox 2nd 15.55 and McGinty 3rd 15.57.
Colin Roberts a man also on the comeback trail was 5th in 16.46 as he fine tunes ahead of next week All Ireland masters XC in Dundalk comfortably collecting the M45 prize.
Michael Murphy was close up behind as he battled well for 6th in 16.52 and was M35 winner.
Well done lads!
Reed, Whoriskey and Stewart Impress at Antrim International XC
Fintan Stewart showed his class with a superb run for 3rd U17′s,1st home for Irish Development Squad.
Declan Reed was 17th Snr Man and 1st home for NI.
Catherine Whoriskey was 16th Snr Women and 2nd home for NI. Catherine scored in a winning NI team who took team honours.
Allan Bogle continued his brilliant winter form for 25th overall.
A trio of local athletes Declan Reed, Catherine Whoriskey and Fintan Stewart contributed significantly to the NI and Ireland squads showings at Saturday’s Antrim International XC meeting, where despite a heavy course and chilly conditions the IAAF sanctioned event produced a real feast of running.
Catherine Whoriskey in her international debut was an excellent 16th overall in the Womens 5.6K race, the second scorer in the NI team , behind Rio bound steeplechaser Kerry O’Flaherty 11th and with Sharlene McMurray 17th, the NI women claimed the winning team prize. Not a bad introduction to international competition for the talented Spartan and her performance should boost her confidence in advance of this weekend’s National Intermediate and the NI&Ulster Senior championships in late February.
Kenyan Alice Aprot Nawowuna won a tight up front race from Mimi Belete of Bahrain with Irish star Fionnuala McCormack a close up third.
Decaln Reed led the NI squad from the front, his impressive 17th place finish making him the second Irish finisher just behind Cillian Murray of DSD, with his NI team mates Mark McKinstry 17th, Seamus Lynch 21st and Paddy Hamilton 22nd. Up front as expected was dominated by African or former African runners, the winner Awake Ayala now based in Bahrain!
Reed will be in Dundalk this Sunday primed to defend his National Masters XC individual crown and Saturday’s strong run ahead of his major NI rivals will certainly be a terrific fillip for the talented 42 year old who will also attempt to retain his NI&Ulster senior XC title in Lurgan on 20th February next.
Finally to Fintan Stewart, a genuine local emerging talent, who grabbed an excellent podium place in the U17 race, finishing third behind the Scots winner and fellow Irish Development squad member Craig McMeechan of North Down. The former Broadbridge PS pupil was in Glasgow a week earlier running for Ulster in the Celtic Challenge XC and did very well but the Antrim run was even better, a podium spot the icing on the cake for the teenage Spartan.
Boxing Day meant Spartans were in competitive action in Ballybofey and Greencastle. Greg Roberts finished 3rd at the Finn valley 5k running 15.35 as he finds some of his old form. In Greencastle Brendan Murphy led the red vests home in 5th overall as he impressed with 26.38 on the tough circuit. Michael Murphy despite stomach cramps battled bravely for 28.18. He finished just ahead of John Lenehan who continues to work back to form with a 28.23 run.
Well done to all!