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Donegal board to investigate bust-up in cross-country race

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Irish athletics is about to make a useful new signing as Katie Kirk (pictured - centre) a former Great Britain junior international, who won the Irish 800m title last summer, has applied for a transfer to run for Ireland. Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Irish athletics is about to make a useful new signing as Katie Kirk (pictured - centre) a former Great Britain junior international, who won the Irish 800m title last summer, has applied for a transfer to run for Ireland. Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Irish athletics is about to make a useful new signing as Katie Kirk (pictured - centre) a former Great Britain junior international, who won the Irish 800m title last summer, has applied for a transfer to run for Ireland. Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Donegal's county athletics board will investigate unseemly incidents during last weekend's senior cross-country championships when the men's senior race featured some unprecedented ugly scenes.

There was pushing and shoving during the early stages of the race in Stranorlar which allegedly culminated in one athlete grabbing an opponent in a headlock and another throwing a punch.

One athlete, from host club Finn Valley, was subsequently disqualified, reportedly because he was seen 'pushing' by the race director.

But it appears he was not the only one involved in the argy-bargy and there have also been disturbing reports that athletes were subjected to verbal abuse from spectators during the course of the race.

There is huge rivalry locally between neighbouring clubs Letterkenny and Finn Valley.

Things settled down as the race unfolded and those involved traded handshakes afterwards.

The local board will investigate exactly what happened at a meeting next Monday night.

"It is a real shame that this is taking from what was actually a great race and a showpiece for our sport with so many accomplished international athletes taking part," Donegal chairman Brendan O'Donnell said.

He said that pictures which have been posted on social media since have only "inflamed the situation".

"We will listen to all sides at our meeting next Monday and hope we can resolve this amicably and that it is just a storm in a teacup," O'Donnell said.

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The reality is that bust-ups are so rare in athletics that there is no disciplinary committee in Donegal to deal with it.

Retire

Letterkenny's Ruairi Finnegan looked to be in control of the race but fell and had to retire with two laps left.

That left a three-way tussle for the title, which was won by City of Derry's Conor Bradley, ahead of Inishowen's Pauric McKinney (who'd completed a 2:33 marathon only six days earlier) and Letterkenny's Ciaran Doherty.

Elsewhere, Irish athletics is about to make a useful new signing as Katie Kirk (21) a former Great Britain junior international, who won the Irish 800m title last summer, has applied for a transfer to run for Ireland.

Kirk, left, only switched to 800m in the last few years, has a 2:02.6 and last ran for Britain in a 4x400m team that won European junior gold in 2011.


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