Tuesday 21 November 2017

Masterclass in London

Drogheda AC's Pat O'Grady
Drogheda AC's Pat O'Grady
Drogheda AC's Mark O'Shea and Niall Donnelly.

LAST Saturday and Sunday six of Drogheda & District's top masters travelled to London to take part in the British Masters Indoor Championships.

The venue was the magnificent Lee Valley Athletics centre in North London and for the Drogheda men it was a much-needed competition as part of their preparation for the World Indoor Masters which take place in Budapest in late March.

On day 1 first in action was Pat O'Grady and Michael Maher in the Master (50) 1500m event. For O'Grady it was dropping down a distance to try and develop a little extra leg speed which could help him run a faster 3,000m in the world championships.

The race was run at a good pace, but like most championships it got tactical and it was only in the final 30m that O'Grady managed to create an opening for himself in the bunch and squeezed through to finish fourth with a season's best of 5min 31sec. For Maher it was his last race before the world event and he had a good run when finishing in eighth place.

Next up for Drogheda and medal contenders in the M40 1500m category were Niall Donnelly and Mark O'Shea who went into this event looking for a good performance after missing four weeks of vital training.

From the start Donnelly went straight to the front of the field and ran the pace required to make an impact in Budapest. As the race progressed Donnelly started to feel the strain of the pace because of a lack of racing and O'Shea then stepped in to help his training partner. They were followed by Christopher Symond of England.

At the Bell it was O'Shea, Symond and Donnelly, but going down the back straight with 130m to go Symond put in a blistering kick and went on to win, with O'Shea finishing second in a season's best of 4min 14sec and Donnelly finishing strong to take the bronze medal in third place.

It was a welcome return to form for both men and with three weeks training left before they head to Budapest it looks like they could make the world 1500m final.

On Sunday Paul Smith took part in the M35 3,000m and managed to finish strong to take the silver medal in a time of 9min 49sec, while O'Grady, taking part in his second and more favoured race of the weekend, finished fourth in the M50 3,000m in a season's best time of 9min 38sec.

Back home in Ireland, further down the country, two of DDAC athletes ran a 10-mile race in the famous coastal village of Ballycotton, Cork. The sea air had a positive effect on Nuala Reilly who hastily crossed the line in 74:22, while Jim Leonard was placed ninth in his category in 1:55:29.

Drogheda Independent

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