The National Senior Indoor Championships in Athlone were brought to a fitting climax on Sunday last with well merited podium places and medals for City of Derry athletes Mary Devlin and Connor Bradley.
Bradley claimed Triple Jump bronze while Devlin secured the 3,000m silver at the plush new Athlone IT Arena.
And off the track another talented local athlete, High and Triple jumper Claire Dougherty was in Tullamore on Saturday night to receive the 2012 Athletics Ireland Juvenile Sports award for county Derry.
A busy week indeed for local athletics as last Wednesday saw the Primary and Secondary school runners perform with distinction at Mallusk; Scott Rankin and Declan Reed fronted a strong local showing at Thursday night’s Armagh International road races promotion and the weekend action in Athlone was reinforced by Zach McGowan’s runners-up 18m 06s performance in the junior men’s category at Sunday’s Finn Valley 5K road race.
Back to the Athlone Arena and the National Senior Indoors and well done to Mary Devlin and Connor Bradley.
Mary made her season’s debut a good one with a 11m 77cm leap to take the women’s Triple Jump bronze, just 5cm shy of her indoor best.
Gold went to Tirconail’s Mary McLoone with a 12m plus effort and the Donegal star also took Long Jump silver with a 5m 86cm leap.
Connor Bradley did very well in the men’s 3,000m to take the silver medal with a 8m 05.29s clocking, over seven seconds clear of bronze medallist Mark Hanrahan of Cork club, Leevale. Winner John Travers of Donore Harriers sped to a European championships qualifying time of 7m 58.54s to take gold, going hard from the gun to impose his authority on the race.
Connor emerged from the pack to claim a significant silver medal and set himself up for what should be a good spring and summer campaign.
Pajo Hamilton ran an indoor 800m pb of 1m 53.57s on Saturday to qualify for Sunday’s final but he couldn’t get a clear run on the tight circuit, second time around and had to settle for a disappointing 1m 55.50s finish.
More to come, however, and he will return to training with sights set on improving his 800m/1,500m track times in the coming months.
Letterkenny duo Mark English and Darren mcBrearty finished one, two in the 800m with a superb 1m 48. 44s gold medal run from the former, a European qualifying time, and 1m 50.23s from McBrearty for the silver medal.
Another North West runner, Anne Marie McGlynn of Lifford AC battled to a women’s 3,000m silver her 9m 48.35s run just bringing her home half a second ahead of the bronze medallist.
Big run and PB for Scott
Meanwhile Scott Rankin produced the run of his life so far with a terrific new 5K pb of 14m 42.09s at last Thursday night’s top class Armagh road races promotion.
The Foyle Valley man was a revelation on the night, pushing hard from the off for an eye catching 23rd place finish in a truly classy international field.
He was the fifth Irish finisher on the night as American Ethan Shaw won in 14m 11.71s from English visitor Richard Weir just strides away on 14m12.40s and Annadale Striders Paul Pollock on 14m 12.46s.
It was a truly tight tussle all the way and Rankin was delighted with his aggressive run which sliced around 20 seconds off his 5k pb.
Behind him in 32nd spot was Declan Reed, another who claimed a new pb as his 14m 48.77s clocking also lopped a significant chunk off his previous best.
The top NI Master s athlete was followed home by Emmet McGinty on 15m 16.92s, Gary Slevin 15m 49.36s and Nick McMenamin on 15m 57.99s.
Catherine Whoriskey ran in the Women’s 3,000m, won impressively by Sligo runner Mary Cullen who posted a new course record of 9m 07.08s in seeing off an international field.
Catherine probably hadn’t fully recovered from a recent bug and her 10m 50.50 s run for 27th overall does not really reflect her effort on the night.
Her father, Peter continued his journey back to race fitness with a third place finish in the M55 age group in the supporting Masters and Junior race.
Cross Country returns to hog the limelight this weekend with the National Senior championships in Tullamore on Sunday and the final race in the ANI XC League in Stormont on Saturday.
Both will have a local input as the City of Derry boys will send a squad to Tullamore and both city clubs should be represented at Stormont.
Declan Reed, Emmet McGinty and Colin Roberts will be in Tullamore as will be Greg Roberts, making a welcome return to competitive action.
The Spartans hope to field a strong men’s squad in Belfast as they seek to secure their grip on the League title and also hope to jockey in the women’s race as they vie with leaders North Down for the women’s title.