Local runners made a significant contribution to the up front action at Saturday’s Home Countries Masters Cross Country on a hilly and muddy Bellahouston Park course with Jackie McGinley, Roisin Lynch and Oran McBride all pocketing team medals in their respective age group races.
Jackie McGinley (pictured right) had a brilliant run for a 9th place F35 place finish to combine with Gillian Burns, 8th and Stephanie Hambling 12th as their N.I. squad performed strongly for team bronze behind the English and Irish teams. In the F60 category Roisin Lynch was the Irish squad’s second scorer and for the second successive year scooped a well deserved team silver medal.
Despite failing to finish due to a hamstring pull early in the M40 race, Oran McBride was delighted to pick up a team silver medal after a sterling effort from the N.I. M40 squad.
The seriously testing Glasgow course was a throwback to cross country of another era and the runners had to dig really deep to get through the mud and the hills with the steep and slippery downhills almost as demanding as the inclines.
However, it was mission accomplished for all the locals in action with the icing on the cake the three medals brought home.
Jackie McMonagle was collecting her first ever international medal and done so in fine style, confirming her recent excellent form with arguably her best ever race performance.
Paula McGilloway was called in to cover for the injured Bridgeen Byrne in the N.I. F45 team and put in a good shift as did Una Gavin in her F50 race, but both will certainly remember Bellahouston Park for a long time to come.
The green vests dominated the M40 race as defending champion, Peter Matthews retained his individual title for the Irish team and two N.I. athletes, David Morwood and Omagh’s Stephen Duncan followed him home to front the N.I. team silver - a terrific performance.
Letterkenny’s Ciaran Doherty in the M35 category had a great run for individual gold in his category as North West athletes made their presence felt.
Finally Cathal McLaughlin, Dermot Connolly and Rosie O’Brien all competed and did well in the open races which catered for the travelling reserves from each of the five teams contesting the international competition.
Sweeney Shines in Sligo
DSD’s Joe Sweeney, the man with the Dungiven connections, repeated his National Inter Counties cross country success of last year on a snow bound Gransha course with an equally convincing victory on a muddy Sligo racecourse on Sunday, romping home well clear of Joe Seeley winner, Andrew Ledwith of Meath and Antrim’s Paul Pollock who produced a very impressive effort for individual bronze.
The Sweeney led Dublin squad held off a strong Antrim challenge for team gold, by just six points with Cork a distant third.
Neither Donegal nor Derry, third and fourth last year figured, although Donegal did field a squad. In the underage races, JP Williamson finished 22nd, fifth Ulster placer in the Men’s U20 race.
Aoife Laverty 11th in the Girls U16 race and Amy Jackson 10th in the U18s both picked up National medals for their efforts and both also were in the reckoning for Provincial team medals with these performances.
They will travel again in mid-December to Kildare for the National U15 and U17 championships when they will look to improve on the Sligo runs and will be joined by several City of Derry Spartans teammates for the occasion.
Cross Country League
St Columb’s Park will host the second round of the local Primary Schools cross country League this Friday, December 2nd with around 14 schools expected to participate.
There will be three races, the first at 12.15 p.m. for girls; the boys follow at 12.30 p.m. and in a new departure a third race has been added for 12.45 p.m. to cater for the boys and girls who cannot be accommodated in the earlier races.
The distance will be 1.2K and teachers are asked to have their teams checked in by 12 noon at St Columb’s Park Leisure Centre. The first round races in the Sports Complex attracted almost 300 runners from 13 schools and similar numbers are anticipated again on Friday.