It was yet another excellent weekend for local athletics with a magnificent turn out for Sunday’s Marty’s Run, won in style by Scott Rankin.
And at Saturday’s NI Masters Open cross country meeting in Belfast, Keith Shields led an impressive array of performances which saw 11 local runners book their places in the NI squads for next month’s annual Masters International cross country in Cardiff.
Roisin Lynch travels to Dublin this Sunday with a spot on the Irish Masters squad her target and the confirmed figure should reach the round dozen with another four also named among the NI reserves for the Welsh trip.
We’ll start, however, with Marty’s Run and just over 600 participated in the annual Foyle Valley 5K road race on a sunny Sunday morning. Scott Rankin got back to winning ways with a gun-to-tape victory, clocking an impressive 15 minutes dead for the distance.
He was in control from early on as clubmate Keith Shields, doubling up after his cross country exploits a day earlier, was dropped by the first kilometre.
Rankin powered on alone for an emphatic win, 21 seconds at the line with the improving Aiden McGowan completing a host club clean sweep, third in 15m 43s.
Chris McGuinness was a close up fourth for the purple vests in 15m 46s and was followed home by another duo who had seen action on Saturday, the Spartans masters Paul McCafferty and James Brown who posted 16m 11s and 16m 17s respectively.
Springwell teenager Molly Breenan was a clear women’s race winner on 20m 33s, well clear of Catherine Whoriskey’s 21m 06s and the 21m 09s of Inishowen’s Sarah McDaid.
A surprise win for the young Springwell runner who could be one for the future.
make NI squad
The Queens University Malone playing fields hosted the NI Masters trial races on Saturday for the upcoming International in Cardiff.
And local runners were prominent across most of the age groups with 11 selections for the Welsh trip confirmed.
Keith Shiels made an auspicious start to the new cross country season with a terrific front running performance in the men’s 8K race and will lead the NI M35 squad next month.
He was a class apart from the gun and in the firm underfoot conditions simply ran away from the opposition.
M40 Eamon White of North Belfast outsprinted Willowfield’s M45 Paul Rowan for the minor places and behind them locals Cathal McLaughlin, Paul McCafferty and James Brown were active in a big chasing group.
McLaughlin led them home, second M45, McCafferty followed and secured third M45 with Brown clinching an M40 slot on the team for Wales with a strong charge over the final kilometre.
Further back Michael Murphy in his very first cross country race did brilliantly and ran himself onto the M35 squad, not bad for a complete newcomer to athletics. Peter Lilburn had a tough test in a very competitive M60 age group battle but dug in well to claim the final place in the international squad and there were good efforts also from M50 Gerry Duddy, M45 Oran McBride, M40 Philip Donaghy and M50 Dermot Connolly. Duddy, McBride and Donaghy were named as first reserves in their categories.
Gerry Lynch made his return to competitive action a winning one with an M65 victory in the 6K race and is hopeful of building on this performance, niggling injuries permitting.
The 6K race hosted the older male masters and the women and resulted in another three locals claiming NI squad slots.
Hannah Shields and Jackie McGinley finished second and third F45’s with good efforts and Una Gavin made the F50 team.
The selectors later added Paula McGilloway to the F50 squad and Bridgeen Byrne, on her way back from injury is named first reserve.