A competitive bunch at 4-mile
SPECTATORS in Dunleer on Sunday afternoon were treated to the biggest and most fiercely-contested Dunleer AC 4-mile Road Race in the history of the event.
In all, 430 athletes gathered at the start line and a group of five quickly broke free from the field, comprising Dunleer's Carl Dunne and Darragh Greene, Star of the Sea's Mark Hoey, Raheny Shamrocks' Simon Ryan and Tommy Evans of Gowran.
Half-way through the race Greene had to pull up due to injury, leaving the quartet to battle through the third mile. Approaching the final mile, former Dunleer man Hoey drifted off the pace, leaving Dunne, Ryan and Evans turning into the main street stride for stride.
However, it was the local lad Dunne, who is home on holiday from scholarship in Florida, who pulled away to win in a time of 20:02. Drogheda native Ryan was two seconds adrift, with Evans a further second behind.
This was a remarkable race in the warm conditions and matched anything seen in the locality for many years. Dunleer won the team event, with Dunne, Jack Boylan, Paul Butler and Aonghus Rooney the scoring athletes, with North East Runners finishing second.
The ladies race was also a close affair, with Dunleer athlete Karen Costello powering home to win in a time of 26:05. Rosie Lamb (Carrick) was second in 26:18 and Kana Akimoto (North East Runners) third. The team result was reversed from the men's event, with North East Runners pipping Dunleer by two points. The Senior Men's and Ladies winners were presented with the Ollie Brennan and Sean Carrie perpetual memorial cups.
Jack Boylan scooped a third individual title for the host club when winning the junior race in a fast time of 22:35, with Aaron McGuigan (Glenmore) in the runners-up position. First junior lady was Emily Doyle, the first wheelchair athlete to complete the course was Turlough Cotter and the first Special Olympian athlete was Ray Torris.
The race organisers are indebted to sponsors Centra, Pat's Gift Shop and Larry Hand for their support, and they would also like to thank the Carrie and Brennan families, Peter Grogan transport and the local gardai.
Meanwhile, at the Morton International Games in Santry (Dublin) on Friday night there were no fewer than four Dunleer athletes competing.
Garry Campbell and Jack Boylan ran the Junior Mile and the former started off at a blistering pace, stringing out the field, and kept it going for the entire race. However, on the last lap he had to give way to National Junior Cross-Country champion Kevin Mulcaire (Clare).
Campbell was rewarded for his brave front-running performance with a fabulous time of four minutes 14 seconds and Jack Boylan also dug deep to finish ninth in 4:42.
Darragh Greene competed in the A 800m, running strongly from the start and finishing in 1:55.
International athlete Tomás Cotter was on pace-making duties, taking the 3,000m international athletes through the first mile in 4:08. This was good preparation for his 3,000m steeplechase race in Lausanne, Switzerland, this week.
Elsewhere, a trio of young athletes contested the National Track & Field Finals on Sunday in Tullamore. First up was Erin Orr in the Girls Under-14 Long Jump. She performed well to qualify out of the rounds into the final eight athletes, finishing in a creditable seventh place.
Emma Cheshire contested the high jump competition in the Under-15 age group, finishing just out of the medals in fourth place. Liam Connaughton (Boys Under-15) contested the javelin competition and had a fine series of throws to finish in an excellent second position, with a best throw of more than 42 metres. In fact it took a championship-best performance by James Kelly (Finn Valley AC) to beat the Dunleer youngster.
On Saturday last, Dunleer quartet Finn Reilly, Ciara Matthews, Danny O'Brien and Jessica Welsh competed in the National Development Championships. O'Brien took silver in the Boys Under-14 800m, running a personal best in the process, and Welsh finished an agonising fourth in the high jump competition in the Girls U-13 section.