Contrasting fortunes for local athletes

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SundAY’s National League action in Dublin produced sharply contrasting fortunes for the local squads involved.

Indeed, only the impressive City of Derry Spartans women, departed Santry’s Morton Stadium on a high after emphatically topping their pool and sweeping into the League Final in Tullamore next month.

The Olympian men’s Division One squad produced a gritty performance and may have just done enough for a top eight place in Tullamore but the seriously under-strength male Spartans slumped to a paltry points score and waved goodbye to their Premier Division Final hopes.

Ashford in Kent meantime hosted the Schools’ International meet on Saturday and the four local U17s in action performed very well with Relay medals for Ciara Armstrong and Jenny O’Brien and impressive new personal bests for Jenny in the 300m Hurdles and for Shane McGowan in the 800m.

Hannah Shields was in Dervock on Saturday for the Kennedy Kane McArthur Festival of running and grabbed a podium place in the marathon with a 3h 38m clocking behind Karen Alexander of Sperrin Harriers and Waterford’s Mary Jennings.

Back to the Schools’ International in Kent and although out of the individual medals with his sixth place finish in a very competitive 800m, St Columb’s Shane McGowan confirmed his class with a 1m 57.71s P.B. for the two lapper.

Just ahead was the other Irish athlete Ciaran McBride with a 1m 57.21s P.B. and in windy conditions, the competitive race confirmed that the local lad is an athlete of genuine class and real talent.

Ciara Armstrong was sixth in her 100m, posting 12.64s and went on to claim a Sprint Relay silver with the Irish quartet; Jenny O’Brien was on the bronze medal Irish 400m Relay squad after posting a 45.64s pb for seventh in the individual 300m Hurdles and Claire Dougherty was fourth in the wind affected Triple Jump with 10m 65cm.

Good efforts from the teenage locals in what always is a top quality meeting for the best emerging talent.

Claire and Jenny then made the Sunday trip to Dublin and saw the female Spartans produce an excellent all-round performance to comfortably top their Division One pool, notching eight event wins in the process and move confidently into the final eight for next month’s League decider in Tullamore.

Victorious Sprint Relay

Mary Devlin put a niggling hip problem to the back of her mind, winning the Long and Triple jumps and majestically anchoring the victorious sprint relay quartet with an imperious last leg; Amy Jackson and Marina Campbell were comfortable 1,500m and 3,000m winners; Maggie Donnelly and Caitlin Ketelar won the Hammer and Javelin and the 400m relay squad sped to an emphatic win to sign off a good day’s work, to put the female red vests safely in the draw for the Division One League final next month in Tullamore.

Not so good however for their male counterparts who crashed spectacularly in their Premier Division match.

Seriously lacking in numbers and quality they scored points in only 11 of a possible 17 events and the 43 points accumulated was a poor reward.

From ninth overall going into Sunday’s match they must now wait anxiously for the confirmed combined results from the weekend Dublin and Tullamore meetings and hope they can retain their Premier status.

Gritty performance

John Coyle once again caught the eye in the sprints as the Olympian men put in a gritty performance in their bid to make the Division One Final and, as we go to Press, their fate is unknown as the aggregate points totals have yet to be confirmed.

Sitting ninth overall pre-Sunday, they may well have done enough to claw their way into the top eight and repeat their 2011 qualification for a trip to Tullamore.

That target looks beyond their women’s squad, however, as the evidence from Sunday’s match would suggest they will fall shy of a final slot.