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Sweeney storms Raheny in style

WHEN it comes to road races, the savvy runner knows that nothing beats a long-established event organised by experienced members of the running community. Such a race is the AXA Raheny 5, which attracted around 2,000 runners of all ages last Sunday.

Helping greatly on the day were the perfect conditions -- cold but still.

First off were the juveniles with medals for the first three boys and girls, and goodies for all 325 taking part.

Then came the main event, with Joe Sweeney of DSD repeating his 2007 win when he led from the start to finish in 23 minutes 23 seconds -- a personal best time. Tallaght's Sean Connolly did his best to hang on for a third consecutive victory and was rewarded with second place in 23.54 seconds -- also a personal best.

Third was Paddy Hamilton from Annadale Strikers in 24.24, with Rathfarnham's Seán Hehir a close fourth. Leading the host club Raheny Shamrock to team victory was Daire Birmingham in fifth place, while Kevin Dooney took the junior prize for the club when he finished a magnificent 10th in 25:16.

Deirdre Byrne of Slí Cualann won the women's race comfortably in 26.45, showing the benefit of a few weeks' warm-weather training in South Africa. Like Sweeney, she will now concentrate on cross-country.

Raheny's much-improved Aoife Talty took second with a huge personal best time of 27:38.

Catherine Conway of Mayo was third with previous winner Annette Kealy of Raheny fourth and first over-40.

Behind them came a magnificent total of 1,707 finishers, including 132 walkers -- a record for the event.

Every single one of them was well looked after with Raheny making the most of the cluster of clubs and halls available to them along All Saints' Road.

One is used for post-race tea and chat, another for the registration and prize-giving and a third as back-up.

Such attention to detail doesn't come cheap and that's down to Raheny.