Emphatic wins for Neil Johnston and Rachel Gibson at North West Cross Country meet in Gransha
The cold, windy and sometimes wet conditions at Saturday’s North West Cross Country meeting in Gransha saw Springwell's Neil Johnston and North Down’s Rachel Gibson deliver emphatic individual wins in the featured Open 6K race.
And promoting club City of Derry Spartans were equally emphatic male and female team race winners, bagging the Bobby Farren Snr and Brendan Duddy Snr Perpetual Cups respectively.
The North Down athlete, Gibson currently teaching in the city’s Thornhill College was always in command and finished 42 seconds clear of clubmate Katie Moore with Armagh AC’s Natalie Hall a further 21 seconds in arrears in third.
Despite that impressive start it was the local Spartans quartet of Angeline McShane 4th, Cara Laverty 5th, Amy Jackson 6th and Jackie McMonagle 9th , who raced to an easy team victory ahead of North Belfast Harriers, North Down and Armagh AC.
Johnston was always prominent in a leading five strong group, with defending champion North Belfast’s Mark McKinstry, Craig McMeechan of North Down and local duo Declan Reed and Allan Bogle.
Bogle and then Reed dropped off the pace as Johnston and McKinstry upped the tempo before Johnston made the winning move on the final lap to grind out a 21 second win from McKinstry who just held off the fast finishing McMeechan.
The Spartans packed well in the 6 to score team race, Reed 4th, Bogle 5th, Sean Melarkey 11th, Emmett McGinty 12th, Noel Logan 17th and 15 year old Daniel Devenney scoring on his first senior team 28th, to seal the deal comfortably clear of Foyle Valley, led home in 7th by Marty Gallagher, North Down, Willowfield and Springwell.