Kealy overcomes controversy and rival Curley to secure Irish title
A CLASSIC tussle between two great domestic rivals was marred by some controversy as Raheny's Annette Kealy edged out her great Tullamore rival Pauline Curley to take her second AAI Irish marathon title, run in conjunction with yesterday's Dublin Marathon.
The elite women's race was won, after a lengthy three-way battle, by Ukraine's Kateryna Stetsenko in 2:32.45, ahead of Namibia's Helalia Johannes (2:33.26) and Ethiopia's Tiki Gelana (2:33.49).
But the top three Irish women home also finished in the top 10, led by Kealy in 2:45.43, ahead of Curley (2:46.13), three minutes clear of Cork's Claire Gibbons-McCarthy (St Finbarrs) who is coached by husband Martin, a former Irish cross-country champion.
The two veterans battled valiantly to try to break each other's spirit while racing side-by-side from the 10th mile mark and it was only in the 24th mile that Kealy got away.
But they had both, earlier, received two warnings apiece for 'coaching' -- a third would have seen them disqualified -- and Kealy admitted afterwards that she was shocked and upset by the accusation.
"There were people coming in and out (on bikes) along the course but they weren't pacing us, they were just supporting us, coming along and going back out," said the 41-year-old national champion.
"I wasn't being paced and I didn't see anyone pacing Pauline," Kealy insisted. "I just heard someone roaring 'official warning'.
"It knocked me off my stride a bit and it was a bit upsetting because I just didn't know what they meant."
Yet nothing could take away from her delight at winning the title she also won back in 2003.
"We ran nearly half of the race together, locked in combat, and that really made this marathon, it was magnificent running together, I loved it. Mind you, at 20 miles, I thought Pauline was going to take me."
The 41-year-old barrister and mother-of-four famously manages to fit in her training by running to her work in the Four Courts daily, quipping that "it's a bit of peace out on the road and anyway, I'm as quick as I would be commuting and I've no patience for commuting."