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UCD have legs on dcu in relay win

A thrilling men's race proved the highlight of the annual Irish Universities Road Relay Championship hosted by NUI Maynooth -- an event that traditionally opens the season for hundreds of student athletes from colleges all over the country.

For the past eight years or so, DCU, with its well-organised athletics scholarship programme, has understandably dominated college athletics.

In the mid-1990s, under the supervision of the late Noel Carroll, UCD became the college to beat, nurturing a stream of top-class athletes -- including high jumper Deirdre Ryan, who received her athlete of the year award last Saturday.

Now, with ex-Olympian James Nolan, a former UCD pupil, installed as coach, the aim is to bring back the glory days.

DCU, aiming for a fifth consecutive title, were the clear pre-race favourites, with Irish international athletes of the calibre of John Coghlan, Mark English and Paul Robinson to call on.

On the day, the UCD captain Richard Owen made a great start, running 4 mins 23 seconds for the opening mile and finishing just a second behind DCU's Joe Warne. Dan King took over the baton for the first of the two-mile legs, with Darren McBrearty falling back to fourth for DCU.

Next off was Irish cross-country champion Joe Sweeney on the three-mile leg.

He soon moved into the lead, with Coghlan doing well to move back into second place but with DCU now over half a minute adrift.

Although they fought hard to catch up, Cian O'Reilly and finally Timothee Francony held on to give UCD its first victory in the race since 2006.

In the women's race, DCU beat UCD for an eighth consecutive win, with great legs from Ciara Durkan and Deirdre Doyle. They will have to look to their laurels next year, when UCD expects to have Ciara Mageean (currently injured) and Ciara Everard available.