A series of quality Indoor Championship performances from Juvenile athletes in Glasgow and Magherafelt grabbed the local headlines over the weekend, as around 20 Scottish and Ulster underage medals were brought Foyleside, all, bar one, won by City of Derry Spartans athletes.
Olympian A.C’s Olivia Webb won U15 bronze at 1,500 metres in Magherafelt, the Spartans notched-up a baker’s dozen at the County Derry venue and for good measure returned from the Scottish Juvenile Championships in Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall with an impressive half dozen more.
Paddy Doherty ran very well for third place in the Albertville five mile road race in Belfast and Sammy McAnaney won the M55 category.
Christy McMonagle enjoyed a profitable weekend taking the M65 top spots at Saturday’s inaugural Cara-Bundoran 10 miler and adding age group honours on Sunday at the Finn Valley 5K as Derry athletes from U12s to over 65s showcased their talents.
Glasgow saw some quality performances from the travelling City Of Derry squad with a brace of Scottish championship medals from Mark McGarvey and Anna Barr plus a medal each from Claire Dougherty and Ryan McParland. McGarvey won the U17 Long Jump with a 6m 42cm new PB and picked up a 60m Hurdles bronze as well as taking sixth in the 200m in a very busy day in Glasgow to show he is in fine shape for the upcoming outdoor season.
Anna Barr too looked good, setting a PB to lift 300m bronze and despite below her Triple Jump season’s best of 10m 60cm a few weeks ago in Belfast, added another in the demanding field event.
Ryan McParland was another PB man, clocking a swift 7.19secs for U17 200m silver and he too will be itching to get into the outdoor action.
High Jumper Claire Dougherty was the other local medallist, clearing 1m 60cm for U17 bronze as she showed once again her ability to perform on the big stage.
Meanwhile at Magherafelt Hannah McGowan in the U18 800m, Shane McGowan and Sean Harkin in the U17 and U18 1,500 metres all took gold with impressive runs at the Ulster Indoors second round championships.
Hannah also claimed 300m silver and silvers were also won by Amy McDaid, U19 800m; Rebecca McLaughlin, U19 400m; Scott Graydon, U18 60m Hurdles and in the U12 Shot Putt by Harry O’Neill.
The Spartans other medallists were Aoife McDaid third in the U13 60m Hurdles; and at U18 level, Dale Kelly in the 1,500m, Connor Doherty at 800m, Caolan Coyle in the Shot and in the Triple Jump, Michael Doherty.
Add in the U17 1,500m bronze from Olivia Webb of Olympian and this certainly was a terrific haul for the talented young locals.
Back to the weekend road racing and Paddy Dohertys impressive 26m 2secs third place finish at the Albertville five miler on Saturday was a big run from a rapidly improving athlete.
North Belfast Harrier Alan O’Hara won in 25m 24s with North Down man, Alex Donald the runner-up on 25m 49s and the Spartan was delighted with his effort for a podium place.
Sammy McAnaney ran just over 28m for an emphatic M55 age group win.
Paddy Hamilton of Annadale Striders clocked a tasty 50m 18s to easily win the inaugural Cara-Bundoran 10 miler on Saturday.
Over 400 started in this one, Letterkenny’s Patrick Brennan was second on 52m 56s and from the deep South, it was Ferbane AC’s Paul Buckley who took third with 54m 14s.
Breege Connolly of North Belfast ran 59m 23s for the women’s prize ahead of Tirconail’s Fiona Stack on 64m 26s and Sligo’s Roseanne Mitchell with 64m 40s in third.
Christy McMonagle showed he still has the legs for the road with a 67m 46s run to top the M65 rankings and finish an excellent 55th overall in the big field.
Less than 24 hours later he turned out in the second of the Finn Valley 5K Series races and once again claimed the age group award.
Rumour has it he headed off to an expensive Spa in Killarney yesterday for some rest and relaxation - would you blame him?
More Road and Cross Country
This weekend brings more competitive action with the Irish Schools Cross country championships in Dublin on Saturday with St Columb’s and Thornhill both having an interest and also on Saturday, Gransha hosts the Paddy’s Weekend 5K road race at 11 a.m. This one kicks off the Derry area road race season and will as usual attract a healthy turn out.
There is a supporting 1K Fun Run which starts at 10.30 a.m. and entries for both will be accepted at Gransha from 9 45 a.m.
The Irish Schools cross country has been moved from the original ALSAA grounds to the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown as the North Dublin venue, close to the airport, was badly waterlogged recently. This should help the competitors significantly as there is a total of ten races on the extensive programme - eight Schools events and two Irish Universites championship races.
The St Columb’s pair Shane McGowan and Sean Harkin, who go in the Junior and Intermediate races, and Thornhill’s Aoife Laverty should be the most prominent of the locals in the chase for championship medals.