ATHLETICS: Fast times in St Stephen’s Day 5k races

CHRISTMAS DAY 5K. . . .Runners pictured at the start of the Christmas Day 5k in aid of Ashmore House Shelter, Derry. DER5214MC046
CHRISTMAS DAY 5K. . . .Runners pictured at the start of the Christmas Day 5k in aid of Ashmore House Shelter, Derry. DER5214MC046

As expected, both the St Stephen’s Day holiday road races in Greencastle and Stranorlar attracted big entries and saw some excellent competitive action despite the challenging conditions, especially in snowy Greencastle.

Annadale Strider, Paul Pollock sped to a stunning 24m 06secs victory at the testing County Tyrone 5 miler while in Stranorlar it was Thomas Hayes of Kilkenny City Harriers who took the honours with 15m 09secs for the 5K distance.

Teresa Doherty of promoting club Finn Valley (16m 40secs) and City of Derry’s Aileen Reed (17m 14secs) impressed at the head of the Women’s field in Stranorlar while Scott Rankin and Brendan Murphy grabbed top six spots in Greencastle as local runners showed their paces.

The Greencastle classic first and a storming effort from the very talented Pollock who saw off his closest challenger Martin Fagan of Mullingar Harriers for a stunning victory in the snowy hills of Tyrone.

The Belfast man did the damage mid-race, breaking clear of Fagan to clock 24m 06secs at the line, the Mullingar man finishing on an equally impressive 24m 40secs and this pair well ahead of a small chasing pack which included Foyle Valley’s Scott Rankin.

The Valley man matched strides with another Annadale man Eddie McGinley and the emerging Connor Duffy of Glasslough Harriers for much of the 5 miles but had to give best at the line to Duffy’s 25m 27s and McGinley’s 25m 31s.

He was timed at 25m 40s, a very decent effort in fifth with the Spartan Brendan Murphy in sixth posting a new personal best of 26m 41s. Good runs by both local lads!

Two other locals were among the top finishers, Michael Murphy 13th in 28m 07s and his Spartans club mate John Lenehan 14th on 28m 12s.

The unattached Heather Foley was out front all the way in the Women’s race, winning easily with a not so shabby 30m 44s clocking.

Three runners contested the other two podium places among them the City of Derry Spartans Angeline McShane.

Second spot went to Lagan Valley’s Ursula Daly whose 33m 03s got her clear of the other two who were involved in a desperate sprint to the line, both clocked at 33m 52s but the Spartan lost the photo finish call to Charlene Abrahams who was given the nod for the final podium place. A good effort nevertheless and she will go into 2015 and the upcoming cross country action with positivity.

Big Runs in Stranorlar

A visitor also took the honours in Stranorlar as Thomas Hayes of Kilkenny City Harriers ran a decent 15m 09s for the 5K win, ahead of Finn Valley’s Gerard Gallagher on 15m 43s with Dublin athlete David Scanlon of Rathfarnham WSAF third.

It was a home win, however, in the Women’s race with Teresa Doherty’s excellent 16m 40s getting the Valley athlete home ahead of City of Derry’s Aileen Reid who posted an eye-catching 17m 14s in second.

Two big runs from the talented pair with Jessica Coyne’s 18m 06s in third rounding off a quality women’s podium.

Celtic International Call-up for Fintan

Good news for Fintan Stewart the talented City of Derry Spartans teenager who has been selected on the Irish squad for the upcoming Celtic Games Cross Country meeting.

Well done to him and his coach Sean Laverty who has nurtured him to a series of excellent runs at local, Provincial and National level and thus impressed the Celtic Games selectors.