| 9°C Dublin

Connolly reigns as king of Raheny 5

TALLAGHT'S Seán Connolly charged into an early lead at the AXA Raheny 5 last Sunday, and, although he slowed down a bit later, he held on for victory over Mick Clohisey and Mark Kirwan from host club Raheny Shamrock.

Connolly was a surprise winner of the race last year, when he was returning to competitive running after a long lay-off with sciatic nerve problems. These days he's coached by Dick Hooper and trains with the Raheny lads every Wednesday.

He was slightly disappointed with his time of 24 minutes 13 seconds -- much the same as a year earlier.

"I'm running 110 miles a week at the moment, so I think I went too fast for the first few miles -- four minutes 32 for the first mile and then 9 mins 20 seconds at the second. I could really feel it as the race went on," says Connolly who is aiming for fast times over 5,000m and 10,000m on the track this summer. "My aim would be to make the European championships standard."

Before that comes the Ballycotton 10, where he will be one of the favourites.


Winning the women's race was Linda Byrne of DSD. She battled it out with Slí Cualann's Fionnuala Britton in the early stages of the race before pulling away to win in 26.31. Britton was not far behind in 26.41, with course record holder Maria McCambridge, who is in full marathon training, third ahead of Raheny's Annette Kealy.

"I'm going to concentrate on the roads for a bit. I'd like to get some good times -- I've never even run a 10k," says Byrne, who is studying for a masters at DCU.

Like Connolly, she has her sights set on the European Track and Field Championships, although she will return to her cross-country roots for the Interclub Championships in the Phoenix Park on March 7.

A record field of more than 2,100 runners and walkers completed the race, with Raheny athletes very much to the fore. Both men and women's teams were victorious, and in the women's race, the first three teams all came from the Shamrocks.

A great day and a great race.

Here's to next year!