SPARTANS RECLAIM McCONNELL SHIELD IN BALLYCLARE
It was a busy and rewarding weekend for local clubs with quality Cross Country action from Under Age to Masters in Ballyclare and Ballybofey and podium places for athletes from City of Derry Spartans, Foyle Valley and Derry City Track club.
The McConnell Shield meeting in Ballyclare on Saturday saw the Foyle Valley and Spartans men’s squads go head to head in the feature 5 miler with the Spartans emerging comfortable winners in the four to score team race, as they posted their second successive win of the new season after their Bobby Rea Memorial win a few weeks earlier in Jordanstown.
In a huge field recent Dessies Run winner Paddy Hamilton of Slieve Gullion Harriers took the individual win ahead of Declan Reed after a fierce battle, but the Spartan had excellent support from Aaron Doherty 5th, Allan Bogle 9th and teenager Michael Melarkey 23rd as the red vests packed superbly to bring home the coveted McConnell Shield they last won in 2013.
Scott Rankin as ever led the Foyle Valley challenge in 7th, Chris McGuinness was 12th, Pius McInyre 14th and a resurgent Keith Shields 18th to give the purple vests the runners up spot with North Belfast Harriers and Newcastle AC completing the top four teams.
This was the third race of the popular NI XC League and Derry clubs have won all three team contests to date, Foyle Valley taking the Comber Cup honours in early October. The Valley boys however continue to top the League table, their consistent efforts so far giving them a cushion over Newcastle who lost a little ground with their fourth place finish on Saturday.The red vests added to their points tally but have made it clear the League is not a priority for them this season and they will dip in and out as their season targets dictate.
in the Women’s race Catherine Whoriskey made her seasonal XC debut with an impressive fifth place finish and led a below strength Spartans squad to a fourth place finish behind Newcastle, Ballymena Runners and North Down, with League pacesetters Foyle Valley also minus a few bodies, pipped by Ballydrain to take sixth spot. With the updated League positions yet to be publicised it looks like Foyle Valley are joined at the top now by Ballydrain and North Down.
Good efforts from the Valley’s Martina McMullan 18th and Sarah Lindsay 26th and for the Spartans Catherine Whoriskey was backed up by Hannah Shields 23rd, Janeen Leese 32nd and Ciara Fraser 55th. Roisin Lynch warmed up for this weekend’s Masters International in Dublin with an emphatic F65 win and Catherine Moran was the leading F55.
In the Male Masters Peter Lilburn and Springwell’s Gerry O’Doherty had another battle for the M60 supremacy with the county Derry man eking out a narrow five second victory and Gerry Lynch cruised to an unchallenged M70 victory in some style, beating all but the aforementioned duo in the combined M60, M65 and M70 3 Miler, run alongside the Women’s race- looking good for Dublin this weekend!
Any photos used are credited to our own runners, Ryan@NiRunning, Mark Ramsey, Chistine and David O’Brien!