The big run of the weekend came in Santry where Declan Reed added significantly to his growing reputation with one of the best ever national senior cross country championships placings by a local male athlete in recent memory.
Possibly only Gerry Craig, Bobby Farren and Peter McColgan have posted top 10 finishes at this level in the last three decades, so the Spartan’s brilliant ninth place puts him right up there in exalted company.
Reed has been a revelation this season and has built on his breakthrough Provincial masters cross country win of January 2011 in Stormont with a couple of N.I. international vests and big performances on the country, road and track since then.
Annadale’s Eddie McGinley was an impressive winner in Santry, coming home well clear of three Clonliffe Harriers to record an emphatic, maiden national senior cross country victory over the 12K distance.
Reed’s dramatic improvement, from his 21st place finish last year has been rightly lauded by all athletics pundits.
Clonliffe easily took the team honours ahead of Raheny and DSD but from a Northern and local perspective, Reed’s run was right up there with McGinley’s winning effort.
He claimed some significant scalps and was, in his own words; “absolutely delighted with the performance.” He will now make a decision on accepting a place on the NI senior squad, alongside Greg Roberts, for the upcoming major race in Birmingham in early March.
Ciaran Doherty of Letterkenny was the closest North West finisher in a gutsy 15th place but only Inishowen AC fielded a team in the race as the North West clubs generally chose to sit out Santry this year.
That may be different in 2013 as the City of Derry club have an application pending to bring the senior championships to the Gransha grounds this time next year.
Finally from Santry news that a Finn Valley athlete, Sarah Collins was a classy winner of the Junior U20 women’s championship.
Sarah who? was the question on Sunday and it appears Sarah is based in Switzerland but has Cork connections and was recently added to the Finn Valley roster. She certainly is a quality acquisition as she defeated a top class U20 field on Sunday.
Success At Stormont
Staying with cross country and the Civil Service meeting at Stormont on Saturday.
Emmet McGinty was involved in an engrossing three way battle for individual honours in the men’s 8K race but lost out to Annadale’s Paul Carroll and Willowfield teenager, Ryan Holt, both of whom got clear in the last of three testing laps as the Spartan finished third.
Noel Logan lost a few places late on and finished seventh. The rest of the local squad were masters and good efforts from Dermot Connolly, Oran McBride, Peter Lilburn and Christy McMonagle saw the red vests finish fourth team behind Willowfield, North Belfast and North Down.
This was enough, however, to retain the runners-up spot behind winners, North Belfast Harriers, in the NI Winter league.
A pared down women’s squad of Camilla McGranaghan, Bridgeen Byrne and Una Gavin also made the trip and collectively ensured that enough points were garnered to also hang on to second place in the Women’s Winter league, won easily by North Down AC.
The supporting Primary Schools races attracted big numbers, including pupils from local schools, Broadbridge and St John’s.
The Eglinton school’s very talented girls team, fresh from their exploits in the local Primary school league and the NI finals, were in flying form and led home by race winner and runner-up, Caoimhe Walsh and Aela Stewart, they swept to an easy team win.
Very good to see local schools travelling to and taking on successfully opposition far from home turf.
Road race, Indoor and Trail run action makes up this weekend’s agenda. The final race in the Sperrin winter League is at Lough Fea on Saturday at 12 noon; the Albertville 5 miler in Belfast has a 2 p.m. start and the final events in the NI/Ulster Juvenile Indoor championships are in Magherafelt on both Saturday and Sunday.
There may also be some local juveniles travelling to Glasgow for the two day weekend Scottish Juvenile Indoors and finally on Sunday, it’s off to Stranorlar for round two of the Finn Valley 5K series, start time 11 a.m.