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Sergiu best in Ballycotton

A week after finishing third in the national cross-country, Clonliffe athlete Sergiu Ciobanu made up for a his disappointment by not only winning the Ballycotton '10' for a fourth time, but also improving his personal best to 48 mins 58 seconds.

It was the first time he had broken 49 minutes and bodes well for the Rotterdam Marathon next month, where Ciobanu hopes to go under the European Championships qualifying mark of 2 hours 17 minutes.

Coached by Jerry Kiernan, he ran the marathon for his native Moldova in last year's World Championships, but after eight years living here, has applied for Irish citizenship. Even if that comes through soon though, he could still miss the Europeans under the two-year "cool-off" rule.

PERFECT

Three miles into the Ballycotton '10', Ciobanu was on his own on a perfect day for road running. Bantry's Alan O'Shea, the 2007 winner and third behind Ciobanu in 2011, finished over two minutes adrift, just holding off the fast-finishing Tim O'Donoghue of host club East Cork. Another East Cork athlete, James McCarthy finished fourth.

For Siobhán O'Doherty of Borrisokane, who won the Flora Women's Mini Marathon for the first time last year, it was third time lucky. She had finished second in 2010 and again last year behind course record holder Maria McCambridge. Her time of 57:32 was off her best of 56:56 set last year, but was enough for a comfortable victory over former hockey international Jill Hodgins.

Fastest of the master men was Colm Burke of St Abbán's, who was also first M45, in 53:55. Less than a minute behind was Cathal O'Connell of St Finbarr's, who was first M50.

On a good day for road running, three women broke 35 minutes at the Fit Magazine 10km in Dublin's Phoenix Park.

Leading them home on what was clearly a fast course was the 44-year-old Catherina McKiernan, who finished fifth in 34:28 and was closely followed by DSD's Sarah Mulligan and Claire Gibbons of MSB in sixth and seventh places.

Overall winner of the race was Seán Hehir of Rathfarnham WSAF in 30:40, another athlete chasing European Championships qualification in a spring marathon.


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