Wednesday 21 March 2018

Drogheda take step forward

Some of Drogheda & District AC's participants on the steps of St Peter’s Church before taking part in this year's Boyne 10K.
Some of Drogheda & District AC's participants on the steps of St Peter’s Church before taking part in this year's Boyne 10K.

WITHOUT doubt Drogheda & District AC have had their most successful year to date.

With the popularity of running continuing apace, the club is at the heart of the running revolution in this locality, boasting more than 400 members.

In 2013 individual goals were realised, new personal bests achieved and - most importantly - there was plenty of silverware for the club. Indeed, D&D AC has left its mark at county, national and European level, with highlights for the club across road races, cross-country events and the track.

The indoor track season proved to be very successful for Drogheda & District. The new state-of-the-art facility in Athlone in February saw the Leinster Indoors Senior and Masters Championships in which Robert Maher ran excellently to take gold in the 800m and Pat O'Grady broke the Leinster Indoor Championship record in his category in the 3,000m.

The National Inter Club Cross Country Championships took place in Tullamore in February and against very stiff competition the Drogheda ladies team came third in their category. Marion Doherty, Pamela Howard, Mary Leech and Yasmin Canning made up the team.

March saw Drogheda & District athletes compete on a European level. Paul Smith, Pat O'Grady, Robert Maher and Michael Maher competed excellently in the European Masters Indoors in Spain, while Robert Maher and Pat O'Grady competed in the British Masters Indoors.

In the Dunboyne 4-miler the ladies won second team prize, with Marion Doherty, Maureen Harbison, Maria Kieran and Yasmin Canning made up the team.

April saw seven quality Drogheda & District teams hold their own in the National Road Relays in Raheny, while ladies captain Pamela Howard took third in the Patsy Kelly 5km.

May was the climax, with the much-anticipated Boyne 10km race which the club are proud to call their own. It was a huge success, with the carnival atmosphere attracting 1,800 participants. The DDAC men's team - comprising Paul Smith, Pat O'Grady and Robbie Maher - took third team prize, while the ladies trio of Mary Leech, Maureen Harbison and Marion Doherty were outright winners.

In June the club put on a top-quality event in the Longest Day 5km race, one that hopefully will be added to the local calendar.

Elsewhere, the Bohermeen 5km race saw the Drogheda ladies pick up more silverware, with Maureen Harbison, Yasmin Canning, Mags Nugent and Bernadette Matthews claiming team gold. And at the AAI Masters Track event Jim McEvoy set the tune by winning double gold in the 400m and 800m.

July saw Lourdes Stadium host the Athletics Louth Junior, Senior and Masters Track & Field in soaring temperatures. There were so many great performances, but Orla O'Connor, Niall Donnelly and Conor Cooney stood out and are seen as rising track stars of the future. The 'Fit for Life' mile was also a huge success.

The marathon groups all performed excellently in the Frank Duffy 10-miler in the Phoenix Park in August, while the Masters Track & Field Championships in Tullamore were also a huge success, with three National champions - Maureen Harbison, Yasmin Canning and Jim McEvoy.

On top of all that, the Duleek 10km race saw a double heist for the club, with both the men and ladies winning first team prize.

As part of the marathon series, the Dublin half-marathon took place in September in Phoenix Park and under the watchful eye of marathon coach Fran Egan there were stellar displays from those preparing for the big one.

October saw the cross-country season begin, with gold for Mary Leech in the Louth Intermediate Cross-Country at DkIT, while the Drogheda & District men took the first three places.

The Leinster Cross Country Championships were staged in very wet conditions in Dunboyne, but still the DDAC ladies masters took third place and the men finished second.

The Dublin City Marathon saw a 61-strong Drogheda & District team take part in the ultimate distance challenge and the culmination of six months' hard work was realised with great results all round, boosted by the exceptional backing from supporters around the course.

November saw the Louth Senior Cross-Country Championships taking place in Oldbridge where victory went to Mary Leech and clubmate Yasmin Canning took second place. Drogheda & District ladies took first and third team places, while the men took the second team prize on the day.

The Louth Masters Cross-Country took place in Termonfeckin earlier this month and Mary Leech continued her winning streak, with Yasmin Canning in third. The ladies also picked up first and third team prizes, while Paul Smith claimed an individual bronze in the men's race.

•Drogheda & District AC train at Meadowview and the Lourdes track on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7pm - all welcome.

Drogheda Independent