Belfast’s Odyssey Arena hosted the National Indoor championships over the weekend and local athletes made their mark as the best senior and juvenile athletes in the country gathered to contest the extensive track & field programme over the two days.
Locals produced a healthy return of 11 individual medals, two at senior level and nine juvenile with all but one of these won by City of Derry Spartans members, Olympian’s Michaela Lyons girls U14 60metres bronze being the exception of a successful weekend.
Connor Bradley took a senior 1,500m bronze after a tough battle with Letterkenny duo, Danny Mooney and teenager Ruairi Finnegan.
The three of them were away from the rest of the field in the latter stages but Mooney made a decisive break just before the start of the final 200m lap to won by an impressive two full seconds with Finnegan just having the legs on the Spartan to claim individual silver.
Mooney clocked 3m 52.81s for the win, ahead of Finnegan’s 3m 54.84s and Bradley’s 3m 55.27s for third.
Triple Jumper, Mary Devlin did well to win bronze with an 11m 65cm leap and she also was fifth in the Long jump as she battled to find some early season form.
These were the only local medals in the senior events although there was some decent efforts in the heats and semi-finals from other local athletes during the two days of competition.
It was a healthier return at underage level with individual golds from the Spartans sprinters, Jack McCloskey and Ciara Armstrong, silvers and bronzes from the sprinters and hurdlers Joseph Killeen, Ruaidhri O’Neill, Megan Devine and from Olympian sprinter Michaela Lyons.
Young walker, Lisa Bradley chipped in with an excellent third place finish in a non-championship 1,000 metres walk.
Jack McCloskey was in sparkling form at U17 level, clocking 7.39s and 23.58s for a 60m and 200m double; Ciara Armstrong could have matched him in her U17 60m/200m events only for an unfortunate disqualification after recording the fastest 200m heats time, so she had to console herself with the short sprint gold with a 7.95 P.B. to boot.
In the same age group Megan Devine emerged as a championship performer picking up 60m bronze with a 8.32s clocking and her 200m 27.38s time was good enough for silver.
Boys U15 sprinter, Joseph Killeen rose to the occasion brilliantly posting 8.12s for a marvellous 60m silver medal and back at U17 level Ruaidhri O’Neill grabbed double bronze in the 60m Hurdles and the 200m. Olympian’s Michaela Lyons was the girls U14 60m bronze medallist with 8.75s.
For the record, there were a few other significant North West performances with Tir Chonail’s Mary McLoone winning double gold, Long and Triple jumps; her clubmate Geraldine Stewart medalled in the Shot Putt; Finn Valley’s Teresa McGloin took 3,000m silver and another Tir Chonail runner, Karl Griffin was an impressive silver medallist in the men’s 800m.
Good Armagh Road Race Runs
The Armagh international road races last Thursday night proved fruitful for a couple of local Spartans, Robert Bigger and Peter Lilburn who each claimed the runners-up spots in their respective age groups in the 3K event on the night.
Bigger was second M50 behind Armagh legend Dermot Kerr and in the M55 category Lilburn was runner-up to North Belfast Harrier Paul Elliott. Catherine Lilburn did well for 22nd in the classy women’s 3K, finishing as sixth NI/Irish on the night.