MOIRA Demesne was the venue for last weekend’s cross country races and apart from a passing shower or two and the occasional gust of wind conditions were good, and certainly fast underfoot if legs above were capable of moving them, writes Joe Quinn.
The Moira event is somewhat of an enigma on the running calendar in that while it produces relatively small fields they are invariably of a high quality. Saturday was no exception with the ladies featuring Gladys Ganiel O’Neill, Abbey, Breeege Connolly, North Belfast, Julie Turley, Dromore and Patricia O’Hagan, St Peter’s at the head of affairs and finishing in that order with Anne Sandford giving no quarter as she again won her category while finishing 9th overall.
The men’s race too had a high class foursome at the front with Paddy Hamilton, Annadale, winning from Paul Pollock, Abbey followed by 2 more from Annadale, Mark Wright and Paul Carroll. Just behind were Owen Carlton, Abbey and Connor Magill, North Belfast and a welcome re-appearance by Brendan Teer who was best of the East Down quintet. Regular Liam Keenan was 28th and Stephen Shannon 32nd in what was a rare outing for him on grass. An even rarer appearance was that of Peter Morgan as he builds his strength for the new season on the roads while I was tailed off after a brief encounter of the soft kind after just 4 metres. But I was if only briefly, alongside the eventual prizewinners later, albeit when they went past almost 2 miles ahead on the 4 lap circuit.
But numbers were again disappointingly low, with only 55 in the Men’s race compared with 79 last year and only 25 in the Ladies. Our representation increased by 2 from last week while Anne Sandford was again the sole Newcastle representative. However with the host club City of Lisburn fielding only 5 runners in the two senior races it is difficult to be overly critical of other clubs. It will be interesting to see the turnout at the International Cross Country at Greenmount next weekend.
Best performance of the day came in the Primary school Girls race where Aoife Cochrane ran her heart out to take 4th place, only being pipped for 2nd spot on the run in by 2 stronger finishing Lisburn girls. There was better representation in the Boys event, with Johnny Erskine and Matthew McGrattan fighting a personal due for seventh and eighth places while Andrew McGrattan took 15th place ahead of debutants Lawrie Kempton and Jack Martin.
In the Year 8 race, with Boys and Girls running together, Ellen Erskine ran a controlled race over the 1 mile distance, recording 6.34 and picking up the medal for 5th finisher. Amy Godfrey also stuck to her task and can be well pleased with her 7.30 timing and as ever a smile at the end. In the competitive Boys race Matthew Martin did well to clock 6.44 and will benefit from the experience.
Preparations are under way for the next local event, the Rollercoaster races at Downpatrick racecourse on 29th January around the course perimeter road.
This is the ideal opportunity for novice runners to get a first taste of running an achievable distance. The senior race over an accurate 5K distance, 3.1 miles ( about 25 furlongs in horse racing parlance) will be at 2.00pm and has already attracted widespread interest – a large turnout is anticipated. An U/20 race will also be held in conjunction with this race.
There will also be races for P4/5 and P6/P7 Colts and Fillies, commencing at 12.00 noon, with special shields for the Best Boys and Girls P6/7 Primary School Teams (first 4 finishers to count) over a 1,000 metres distance as well as at U/13 (1.5K), U/15 (2K) and U/17 (2.5K) age group levels in both categories.
All local schools are invited to come along – it will be ideal preparation for the upcoming schools cross country races.