Nicell, McNulty tops in Omagh

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LOCAL star, Stephen Duncan, celebrated in style through his home town streets as he sped to a convincing Omagh Half Marathon victory on Saturday, clocking an impressive 66 mins. 33 secs. to outrun National Marathon champion,Clonliffe Harriers Sergiu Ciobanu on 67m 26s with St. Malachy’s Joe McAlister, third on 69m. 03s.

The strong running Omagh Harrier led home a record 1,100 plus finishers on the new course and with almost 700 in the 5 kms Fun Run, led home in 17 m. 22 s. by City of Derry’s James Brown, the County Tyrone event had both quality and quantity on offer.

Tullamore’s Pauline Curley saw off the challange of North Belfast Harrier, Breege Connolly, the former Irish Olympic marathoner posting 78 m. 37 s. for the win, ahead of Connolly’s 79 m. 18 s. with Julie Balmer of North Down third on 84 m. 09 s.

The leading Derry finishers were the Foyle Valley duo of Paddy Nicell 37th and Dara McNulty 39th, with times of 81 m. 24 s. and 81 m. 46 s. as the Omagh race celebrated its 21st successful staging.

Letterkenny’s Patrick Brennan was fourth with a good 69 m. 35 s., Dungannon runner Davide Figueirdo also broke the 70 mins. barrier with 69m 52s for fifth and the top six was completed in 70m 43s by Paul Buckley from Ferbane AC.

Looking ahead to this weekend and Dublin’s Phoenix Park will host the National 10 kms Road Championship on Sunday as part of the Great Ireland Run. A massive field is expected and among the up front action should be the ‘red vests’ of City of Derry Spartans who hope to challenge for championship honours in both the senior men’s and Master O50 categories.

Greg Roberts, Aaron Doherty, Declan Reed, Diarmuid Grant, Paddy Moore, Noel Logan and, possibly, Emmet McGinty, if injury permits, will form a strong squad with medal potential while Sammy McAnaney, Peter Lilburn and Christy McMonagle could all go well in their respective age groups and, indeed, collectively in the M50 team championship.

Belfast hosts the Titanic Quarter 10 kms also on Sunday and, no doubt, this one will attract some local interest given that its just down the road and with the London Marathon a week later, on Sunday, April 17th and Belfast coming up on Monday, May 2nd, a little taster this weekend could be beneficial.

While the major track and field season may still be a way ahead, there is a chance to check progress to date with the North Down Track meet in Bangor tonight (Tuesday) and then just over a week later on Thursday, April 14th at the Mary Peters track in Belfast wih the first of the seasons Edwards & Co.’s meeting. Worth pointing out also that the N. Ireland Young Athletes League first round match is on May 14th with round two on May 28th here at the Templemore Sports Complex Track.

Local clubs Olympian and City of Derry are expected to be serious participants again this year.

Back to local road running and a reminder that opening race in the Furey Insurances 5 kms. Series will include the Athletics N. Ireland Club Championships on Wednesday evening, April 20th when it is expected to attract around 300 participants to the Bay Road circuit.

Entries can be made now online by emailing name; male/female; club and age on race day to fudgelarge@gmail.com

Entries will, of course, be taken on the night, from 5 30 p.m. at the race headquarters in the Magee University College Sports Hall at the Northland Road Campus.

Foyle Valley

excel in Omagh

Foyle Valley AC runners and their supporters, family and friends turned out in force once again for the Omagh Half Marathon on Saturday with over 30 runners taking on the challenge of this new, but still testing course.

There were many outstanding Valley performers on the day but pride of place must go to Paddy Nicell who finished on 1.21.24 and 37th position overall in a field of close to 1,200 runners.

St Johnston’s Dara McNulty (1.21.44, 39th overall) and Ciaran Graham, with a personal best of 1.23.41.

Ciaran Smith, also recorded a personal best of 87.52 while Garvin Doherty got home in just under the magic 90 mins. before a cluster of Foyle Valley runners achieved times just outside the 90 minutes barrier - Jackie Coyle, Seamus Doherty, David Campbell, Chris Ryan, Barry Dinsmore, Collie Doherty and Brian Baker.

Paul Slevin struggled towards the end while Packie Deehan finished like a powerhouse for 95 minutes. St Joseph’s Boys’ student Dessie Hegarty overcame recent training difficulties to achieve 97 minutes as did a steady Mark McClintock and Joe Pewtner, with his mind fixed on the London Marathon

Sandra McKeever and Kyle Colby finished well with Michael Cartin and John Bonner once again displaying guts and determination. David Wylie, Michael Clifford and Foyle Valley’s very own bus driver and triathlete, Tony Morrison also completed the course.