Tuesday 23 October 2018

D&D punch above weight in Nationals

Athletics: round-up from the local clubs

When it comes to the sharp end of athletics, every distance runner wants to win a National Cross-Country Championship.

This really is the blue riband event of distance running and marks out the winner as someone who possesses not only huge strength but also tactical awareness and plenty of speed, as this is the hardest race to win in Irish Athletics.

For the first time in its short history, Drogheda & District AC had a team entered in the Junior Men's race.

This 6K event, run over four 1500m laps, is not for the faint-hearted as the first half-mile is always run at a ferocious pace, but the D&D team of Sam O'Neill, Robbie Caffrey, James Nolan and Cormac Canning really did their club proud on this occasion.

Right from the gun, the lads got stuck in and mixed it with the best Junior runners that Ireland has to offer.

The initial charge to obtain a good position as the leading pack heads for the first corner has to be seen to be believed, such is the pace involved, and the D&D quartet weren't found wanting as they worked hard from very early on.

At the end O'Neill was the first of the four to cross the line, followed by Nolan, and not far behind and running well were Canning and Caffrey who finished in that order.

The experience gained by these four fine young athletes will surely stand to them and the future looks bright for D&D with this kind of talent on board.

Running in the Boys U-16 race, which was run over 4k, was young Tadgh Donnelly, a real find for the club, who put the work in and had a terrific run to finish 18th overall against the best in the land.

When the going gets tough, there really is no tougher than Donnelly and he's recently given up a promising boxing career to concentrate on his running.

Elsewhere, Brian Martin certainly made the short trip to Clontarf worth his while when he won the 5-mile event at last Saturday's road races.

Martin, who's really starting to flourish as a runner, raced away from the opposition to record an easy win, coming home over a minute clear of his nearest rival in 29:14.

Also making the journey to Clontarf was David O'Neill who was taking part in the Half Marathon run in conjunction with the 5-mile race. O'Neill ran an even-paced race, which is so important when taking on the challenge of running 13 miles, and was rewarded for his efforts with a new PB time of 1:44:54.

With only a week to go to the Louth Masters Cross-Country Championships, some potential medal winners were using the Oldbridge Parkrun to sharpen up and gauge their fitness over this challenging 5k cross-country course.

Showing good form after coming back from injury were Paul Smith and Eric Clinton. Right from the gun these two forced the pace as they both needed to get some tough miles into their legs, and there's nothing better than racing for that.

Smith, who's getting stronger by the week, was a comfortable winner, with Clinton second, and both looked like things are going well for them in training. Stephen Duggan ran a really solid race to finish fourth in 19:14, with clubmate John Hough sixth in 19:40.

Also running were Martin Woods, who was 42nd in 26:57, and David Thornton who was 58th in 29:37. The club's first lady finisher was Theresa Woods who was 70th in 33:57, with Audrey Corcoran 76th in 40:45.

The running scene really is awash with mid-week races at the moment and D&D members ran in four different venues over the past week.

At the Gingerbread Run 10K in Portarlington, Jacqueline Kirwan ran 1:13:02 to finish 519th overall, with Donna Carolan and Valerie Campbell running in together to finish in 1:17:16. Carmel Bergin was 560th in 1:20:16 and Geraldine Reilly 561st in the same time.

Marathon specialist Gerard Fay took part in the sixth and final week of the Raheny Shamrocks 2-Mile Race Series which is run over a mostly flat but concrete surface. He recorded 15:17.

Closer to home, Navan-based member Suzanne McCabe literally only had to cross the road to take part in the 3,000m track race held at Claremont Stadium. Thankfully this fine facility has been saved from being sold off to the highest bidder and Dunshaughlin AC are now holding weekly track races there.

McCabe ran 13:48 for the 3K on a bitterly cold night and will run quite a bit faster with some more races in her legs.

Taking part in the Run in the Dark 10K were Austin Collins and Helen McGuire Molloy. Collins ran a new PB of 54:55, with Molloy also setting a new best when running 1:03:26.

Drogheda Independent