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Hoey wins half battle in dublin

From all over the country they came -- more than 6,000 runners, fast and slow, dedicated and casual, for the National Lottery Half Marathon in the Phoenix Park.

Seamus Power from Co Clare, many times Irish cross-country champion, made the early pace but how long would his 40-year-old legs hold out? The answer came at seven miles, when a severe stitch saw him slow to a crawl.

He recovered enough to finish sixth overall, but it left the way open for Mark Hoey (pictured), a 24-year-old landscape gardener from Co Meath, to take victory in 68 minutes 58 seconds. Half a minute behind was Martin Conway from Sligo, while a close third was Monaghan man Patrick Cassidy. These were club-standard athletes all breaking 70 minutes on a supposedly "tough" course.

A day later, a large group from the Marathon Mission, the elite group supported by the National Lottery Dublin Marathon, ran the Great North Run. It left many scratching their heads. If this group is financed by the Dublin marathon organisation, then surely they should turn out for races organised under its banner, such as the half marathon?

One who stayed at home was Siobhan O'Doherty of Borrisokane. She got her reward when she won the women's race in a new personal best of 76:25. Also sticking to home territory was Raheny's Lorraine Manning who looked slightly off form, but finished third behind her veteran clubmate Annette Kealy.

Bantry's Alan O'Shea won the inaugural Charleville Half Marathon in 66:58. Raheny's Vinnie Mulvey was second in 67:33 with Gary O'Hanlon of Clonliffe third in 67:59; all good times that didn't require a flight abroad.

First woman was Angela McCann from Clonmel in 82 minutes. McCann had finished fourth in Dublin a day earlier and finished third in the Women's Mini Marathon that afternoon in Clonmel.

The Athlone Three Quarter Marathon takes place on Sunday October 2. Register at www.athlone3quarter.com.